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WA company targets EV market with Australian-invented battery technology


WA company VSUN Energy has completed the first phase of a trial of battery technology that could deliver a truly green charging network for electric vehicles.

The trial involves the use of a small 5kW-30kWh Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) powered by solar energy. The project opens the way for standalone EV charging stations anywhere in Australia.

VSUN Energy’s Business Development Manager Zamien Sumich said VRFBs were the “missing piece of the renewable energy jigsaw”.

They can handle all the requirements of EV charging but can also be scaled up to suit a wide range of projects, from residential through to large grid-scale industrial and agricultural needs.

“The VRFB is well suited to the capture and storage of large quantities of renewable energy, enabling stable power output,” Mr Sumich said.

“Vanadium electrolyte doesn’t degrade, meaning that thousands of EV batteries can be charged from the one station.

“The VRFB’s long life, exceeding 20 years, makes it one of the most sustainable and long-lasting ways of storing renewable energy. At the end of the battery’s mechanical life, the vanadium electrolyte can be reused indefinitely.”

VRFBs can handle high temperatures without the risk of explosion.

Even the most remote EV charging point can be powered using renewable energy - enabling remote EV charging anywhere in Australia. 

VSUN Energy, the renewable energy generation and storage subsidiary of Perth-based Australian Vanadium Limited, is collaborating with its Singaporean partner V-Flow Tech and EV specialists Gemtek on the project.

ASX-listed AVL is developing the Australian Vanadium Project south of Meekatharra. The Australian Vanadium Project is more than a vanadium mine, comprising a value chain spanning mining, manufacturing and downstream processing. 

AVL Managing Director Vincent Algar said the initiative is part of the company’s strategy to further develop the market for the battery storage technology in Australia.

“The intent is for Australian Vanadium to not just sell vanadium into the metals sector internationally, but to be fully vertically integrated onshore here in Australia. In doing so, we are able to reduce the cost of these batteries while adding local value, content and job creation,” said Mr Algar.

“While we are still in the development phase of the mining project, we are building a vanadium electrolyte manufacturing facility near Kwinana, which is expected to be in production by mid-2022 with an annual production of 33MWh. 

“Once completed, AVL will be able to supply battery ready vanadium from its mine, into the electrolyte plant and into a battery, all in Australia with no offshore processing.” 

AVL will use VRFBs to power its mine site and processing facilities.

Tesla owner and Federal Member for Perth Patrick Gorman was on hand to support VSUN Energy in its trial of the EV charging station.

“Australia lags well behind the rest of the world when it comes to the uptake of electric cars,” Mr Gorman said.

“This trial is significant in that it removes one of the barriers to take-up of electric vehicles in Australia – the distance between and availability of charging stations.

“Having a stable renewable energy charging system for electric vehicles will be a big boost for the Australia electric car market.”

VSUN Energy has partnered with Electric Vehicle charging hardware and software provider Gemtek Goup for the trial. 

Gemtek Group commercial manager Florian Popp said Gemtek has tested a wide variety of power systems with its EV charging technologies. 

“Developing expertise in integrated renewable energy EV charging solutions to suit Australian requirements for mining, agricultural and regional applications has been a key focus,” he said. 

“The VSUN Energy storage system’s unique capabilities and operating life provide a substantial advantage in high temperature and remote environments.”

Vanadium is classified as a critical mineral and as the world seeks to achieve net zero carbon emissions, increased vanadium consumption in the steel market and use in VRFBs are becoming major global drivers in emission reduction. 

The VSUN Energy vanadium green powered EV charging station trial comes hot on the heels of Australian Vanadium Limited’s announcement last week to install a standalone power system based on VRFB energy storage technology at IGO’s nickel operation in Western Australia’s remote Fraser Range region.

Around the world VRFBs have been used in EV charging stations for car manufacturers such as Volkswagen at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany by Austrian VRFB manufacturer CellCube.

VRFBs store energy in a non-flammable, liquid electrolyte and the batteries can be cycled tens of thousands of times with virtually no degradation in capacity. Vanadium electrolyte has a lifespan exceeding 20 years, it is fully recyclable, safe, non-flammable and it suited to large energy storage. VRFB technology has longevity that matches renewable energy generation sources such as solar PV and wind turbines. 

VSUN Energy is currently installing VRFBs into agricultural, mining, commercial and rural residential sites and is working to develop an urban residential battery for construction in Australia.

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