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MGX Renewables has high hopes for its zinc-air flow battery in a changing energy landscape


The company has developed zinc-air flow batteries as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries to be used in applications that require 'long duration, high-capacity' storage.

MGX Renewables -

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  • Unique zinc-air flow battery technology, which can be scaled up

  • Experienced management team

  • Extensive patents already issued

What does MGX Renewables do?

MGX Renewables (CSE:MGXR) is a spin-out from MGX Minerals Inc (CSE:XMG) (OTCMKTS:MGXMF) where it was previously known as ZincNyx Energy Solutions -  a subsidiary of MGX. It recently began trading on July 22 this year under the ticker MGXR on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

The  tech company has developed zinc-air flow batteries as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries to be used in applications that require 'long duration, high-capacity' storage. The mission is to: "Provide longest duration, low cost energy storage for markets in renewables, peak power shaving, and diesel generator replacement for backup power."

Its batteries are said to meet a need in both renewables storage and in industry and grid scale opportunities in power acquisition and distribution. They are also a cleaner and steadier way of providing and acquiring power.

Potential uses:

 - Storing current from renewable energy sources such as wind or solar

 - Commercial, industrial backup to replace diesel generators

 - Industrial scale, on-demand power for peak shaving services to save grid costs

 - Grid scale energy storage for energy trading

How it works:

To try and put it simply, the regeneration component of the system requires the passing of electric current across the opposing electrodes - cathode and anode - of each regeneration cell.

Particles of zinc are "grown" on the cathode, while oxygen comes off the anode.  Zinc particles are periodically washed off the cathode using the same electrolyte in which they were produced and stored in the fuel tank. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere.

When the system is delivering power, zinc particles are combined with oxygen drawn from the surrounding air, but when the system is recharging, zinc particles are regenerated, and oxygen is returned to the surrounding air.

The technology, which has 20 issued US patents with six more under way, can be used in a wide-range of ways, including in renewable sources such as wind and solar, but also to replace diesel generators and for grid-scale storage. The system is designed to deliver power in the range of between 20kW and 50MW and energy storage in the range of between 120kWh and 1GWh over extended periods.

How it is doing:

To underline potential advantages, compared to a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery system, MGX Renewables says the cost per additional kilowatt hour is US$10 for the MGX system compared to around US$400  for Li-ion.

Energy in the MGX system is also stored in electrolytes, which is limited only by the size of the tank and the amount of fuel provided, whereas in lithium batteries, storage within electrodes is limited by the size and number of electrodes. The MGXR system has no fire hazard but the lithium-ion one does.

On July 29 this year, the group said it had hired highly experienced energy executive Fabio Fontana as director of its European operations. The former British Gas employee, will supervise the upgrading and certification of the zinc battery to EU Standards and negotiate manufacturing, distribution and capital relationships within the bloc.

What the CEO says:

Jared Lazerson told Proactive in an interview last month that the MGXR system was ideal for utility-scale applications, or for energy storage to be used in the Grid.

"Right now, specifically we're looking at 5MW installations and we think we can probably get to 50MW or 100MW without major redesign of the fuel cells themselves,"  he said.

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