Firefly's Composite Foam-Based Battery Technology
Firefly’s technology is an innovative material science that removes almost all limitations of current lead-acid battery products. The materials also hold the promise of major simplification for manufacturing of lead-acid batteries and will potentially deliver more flexible form factors or configurations, which may be the catalyst to change the entire distribution and profitability models of the battery industry.
As he began his research into lead acid battery chemistry and structure, Kurt Kelley discovered that much of the lead in the grid structure of conventional batteries can be replaced by a totally new type of grid material. Of course, once the basic material was determined to have the requisite physical and chemical properties, much subsequent research and testing was required to determine the optimum configuration and “architecture” within the battery itself. These results are confirmed in recently granted U.S. Patents.
In the advanced battery architectures that Firefly has perfected, the MicrocellTM composite foam “grids” are impregnated with a slurry of lead oxides which are then formed up to the sponge lead and lead dioxide in the normal fashion. Because of the foam structure, the resultant negative and positive plates have enormous surface-area advantages over conventional lead acid grid structures. This results in much-improved active material utilization levels (i.e. from the historical 20-50% up into the range of 70-90%) as well as enhanced fast-recharge capability and greater high-rate / low-temperature discharge times.
The signal advantage of Firefly’s Microcell Technology™ is that it fundamentally changes the performance of active materials within the lead acid cell due to its unique architecture. Overall, the Firefly foam electrode structure results in a redistribution of most of the electrolyte (the biggest “resistor” in a lead acid battery) into the pores of the foam plate, in closer proximity to the lead chemistry. This is in contrast to a traditional lead acid battery, where most of the electrolyte is in the separator, more distant from the plate’s chemistry. Each foam wafer contains hundreds or thousands of spherical microcells (depending on the foam pore diameters). This leads to enhanced active-material utilization levels because each microcell has its full complement of sponge lead or lead dioxide and sulfuric acid electrolyte. Liquid diffusion distances are reduced from the traditional levels of millimeters over linear paths (the conventional “2D” diffusion mechanism) to the level of microns in the three-dimensional space within the discrete microcells that collectively comprise a totally new type of electrode structure (what Firefly calls a “3D” electrode). Such a structure results in much higher power and energy delivery and rapid recharge capabilities relative to conventional lead acid products. These foam electrodes can be used in either flooded or VRLA battery designs.
Firefly Advanced Battery Technologies: Introduction
Firefly Energy has developed two significant technologies that will deliver advanced battery performance for an entire spectrum of uses served by lead acid, nickel, and lithium based chemistries. The two technologies, 3D and 3D2, involve the use of a porous three dimensional material in either flooded or VRLA (valve-regulated lead acid) battery designs. Implementation of this technology successively does away with the corrodible lead grids found in conventional lead acid battery design, and allows delivery of the full power potential of lead acid chemistry for energy storage. This breakthrough delivers a formidable jump in specific power, energy, and cycle life. The resulting products possess performance parameters comparable to advanced materials (Lithium and Nickel-based) batteries, but at costs far below these high performance batteries.