First lithium battery module firm launched


TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a bid to develop a total solution to the rising demand for high-power, eco-friendly batteries, Taiwan has launched the world’s first company specializing in the manufacture of lithium battery modules, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) announced yesterday.

“With the soaring applications of high efficiency batteries used in vehicles such as electric bikes and cars, a unified, standardized battery module system is urgently needed, “ said Liu Jong-min, director of Material & Chemical Research Laboratories under the ITRI, which is the founder of the new battery company.

Liu said lithium batteries offer more powerful and eco-friendly energy than the lead batteries used in most light electric vehicles (LEVs). “But at present, the lithium batteries available on the global market lack a standardized module system,” he added.

Although neither the ITRI nor the just-launched company has yet developed complete, ready-to-sell lithium battery modules, Liu expressed optimism, saying the advanced battery technology the ITRI possesses will help Taiwan take the lead in the emerging lithium battery market, which is estimated to reach US$820 million this year.

Liu referred to the successful launch of a test menu for standardized lithium batteries in March, which is the result of a joint effort by ITRI and the Germany-based Extra Energy Foundation.

He said the technology used in the standardized battery module is the brainchild of the Battery Safety Organization (BATSO), initiated by the ITRI and Extra Energy.

“The new battery module will provide more safety for LEV drivers, while helping to establish a unified system for a stream of related industries, including e-bike manufacturers and battery charger makers,” Liu said.

Led by a team of ITRI experts, the new company, named the HiTech Energy Company, will be a subsidiary of local battery manufacturer, Welldone Co., which is the sole investor in the new company.

Welldone Chairman Paul Chen said the launch of iTech Energy is in line with a recent wave of alternative energy solutions.

He said HighTech Energy, along with ITRI, will present their latest achievements in June at a summit in the German city of Stuttgart, which has been established as a “Green City” because of the wide use of electric bikes among its citizens.

“We are also seeking cooperation with the Taipei city government to promote LEV and lithium batteries,” Chen added.

Yang Mo hua, an ITRI battery expert who will be leading the lab research in the new company, said the Stuttgart summit will be a great opportunity to show the world Taiwan’s achievements in lithium battery development and generate business.

Following the invention of the first lithium battery by Japan’s Sony Corp. in 1991, they have been mostly applied to small 3C products such as notebooks and PDAs.

But the batterymodule HiTech Energy Companyis set to manufacture will focus on larger, heavier batteries for larger products including electric vehicles and even airplanes.