Thais urge US lithium-ion maker to set up local plant
- June 20, 2012
Published: 19/06/2012 at 01:57 AM
Bangkok Post / Newspaper section: Business
Thailand is trying to convince the developer of the latest lithium-ion battery to manufacture it here using technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Thaweesak Koanantakool, president of the National Science and Technology Development Agency, on Thursday said it is enthusiastic about advancements in the “compact high-density low-cost revolutionary battery” technology being developed at an MIT laboratory and sent a Thai researcher to take part in the project.
Chiang Yet-ming, a Kyocera professor of ceramics in MIT’s materials science and engineering department, has travelled to Thailand several times.
During his latest visit last week, he met with executives of PTT Plc and subsidiaries IRPC and Thai Oil as well as the Energy Ministry to discuss business potential of the new battery technology here in Thailand.
Having been in the research and development stage for two years at MIT, a pilot plant of the lithium-ion battery is expected to be set up in the US next year.
“We’re inviting PTT and other petrochemical companies in Thailand to be investment partners in the manufacturing plant. as they are potential customers and suppliers of raw materials,” said Dr Thaweesak.
The battery technology is critical for Thailand’s electricity supply in the future.
An efficient large-scale battery can help store unused energy and regenerate electricity when it is needed, without the need for investment in a huge power plant or worry about brown-outs during peak hours, said Dr Thaweesak.
He said for hybrid and electrical vehicles, this lithium-based battery has two or three times the efficiency of a conventional battery.
“The Thai government has a project called One Megawatt per Tambon, and there are 7,000 tambons in the country. This offers a huge business potential for the battery manufacturing project,” said Dr Thaweesak.
Prof Chiang said the new battery technology could be an ideal application for the more than 900 Thai islands.
It has a lifespan of 10 years and energy efficiency of 90%.
Development of this technology has received US$7 million in support from two US government agencies _ the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency and the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy _ plus another $10 million worth of private funding.
This new project is undertaken by 24M Technologies, which Prof Chiang co-founded in 2008.