This is the World News section of the June 1999 issue of BD

News is grouped by topics and alphabetically within topics

World News


Awards and Contributions

General Motors Corporation honored Delphi Energy with a Supplier of the Year award. Wal-Mart recently also recognized Delphi batteries with an Aftermarket Award for the batteries provided through ACDelco for their private label.

Frost and Sullivan present awards to battery manufacturers. The 1998 Market Engineering Competitive Strategy Award was given to Sanyo Electric Company Ltd. Matsushita Battery Industrial Company, Inc./Panasonic was awarded the Sales Strategy Award and the Marketing Strategy Fulfillment Award.

Frost & Sullivans 1998 Market Engineering Leadership Award has been given to Abiomed, Inc. for its exhibition of world-class leadership through strategic action in the organ transplant marketplace. Abiomed, Inc.s BVS-5000 temporary artificial heart device is designed to provide a patient with full circulatory assistance for the treatment of patients with reversible heart failure. The companys battery-powered totally-implantable heart replacement device is currently under development, and clinical trials will be in the year 2000.

GNB Technologies is named Vendor of the Year by Advance Auto Parts. GNB was recognized for its outstanding product and service quality in 1998.

Alkaline

FDK Corporation will double its production of C and D-size alklaine batteries. Although AA and AA-sizes have accounted for the growth of overall battery sales, there are some forecasts for higher demand for the larger size cells. 2

Business News

Exide expands its agreement with Pep Boys, an automotive aftermarket retail and service chain, to include its western stores. Last year Pep Boys sold 1.3 million Exide batteries through its eastern stores. Exide estimates additional automotive battery sales through the western outlet of 1.4 million batteries per year.

Exide has also named Ronald J. Gardhouse, a former executive with DaimlerChrysler, as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Exide Holdings Europe. Exide began acquiring a European presence in 1994 with the purchase of BIG and Tudor. Today, Exide is the largest producer of Lead-acid batteries on the continent.

   At the BCI Convention, Anton Schwelz of Battery ELBAK Machines said his company is the only company to offer a full machine range of very small plates ( from letter-size paper to the wallet-size business card). All the machines are using patented vacuum separator transport. This guarantees mechanical stress free handling or processing.

Frost and Sullivan report that total revenues for the total Mobile Communications Markets reached over $1.5 billion in 1998. Analyst Dora Fong said, Manufacturers are faced with the challenge of deciding in which battery chemistries and cells to invest time and fund to maintain the highest profit margin possible. This is difficult for manufacturers in the rechargeable battery industry due to the changing demands set by OEMs and end users.

Motorola Inc., Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyj develop new technologies for the mobile phone users whose numbers are expected to triple in the next six years. These top three companies control 60 percent of the worldwide market which is worth about $40 billion. Unveiled in March was Motorolas worlds smallest dual-band phone based on the most popular cellular system, the global system for mobile telecommunications (GMS).

Although most of the phone updates have been in style, color and size in the past, the new technology will allow media phones to browse the Internet. The next generation products may look more like computer screens. By 2002, a fourth of the traffic on cellular networks is expected to be data rather than voice.

Rayovac filed a patent infringement suit against Duracell which alleges that Duracell has infringed two Rayovac patents pertaining to Zinc-air battery technology. Duracells position is that they are not infringing on Rayovacs patents. Rayovac currently holds a 58 percent market share for hearing aid batteries utilizing Zinc-air technology.

Rayovac reported a sixth consecutive quarter of record sales and earnings. Sales were up 16 percent. The 16 percent increase in sales to $111.0 million for the second fiscal quarter of 1999 over the same period last year was driven by increases in Alkaline and hearing aid batteries. Alkaline battery sales for this period grew 27 percent while sales of hearing aid batteries increased 14 percent.

Sanyo Electric plans to cut 11 percent of it workforce in three years to regain profits. Sanyo has been hard hit by the overall depressed Asian economy since 70 percent of its overall product sales are in the Japanese and the Far Eastern markets. By April 2002, Sanyo hopes to cut 6,000 jobs worldwide from its 55,000 workforce. Most cuts will come through attrition.

Sears, Roebuck & Company faces another lawsuit. Filed in Texas, the suit claims that Sears wrongfully calculates the warranties life span from the date batteries are shipped to stores and not when they are purchased by the customer.

The Weather Channel will sponsor a research team to climb Mt. Everest to place advanced telemetry weather probes around its peak. The team climbing the mountain will be from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If successfully placed, satellite uplinks in the four battery-powered probes will continuously relay information about weather conditions on the mountain to a ground station, offering for the first time a year-round look at the weather of this gigantic mountain. (Editors note: If the Weather Channel were to think more like NASA, they might be able to robotically place such sensors more economically and without human danger. )

In the World Trade Organization article on page 38-7 of Issue #38, May 1999 of BD, please note the following correction and clarification. The batteries affected by the 100% duties resulting from the banana dispute are all Lead-acid battery imports from the European Union except for batteries used to start piston engines (SLI) and Electric Vehicle batteries. U.S. Lead-acid battery imports from Denmark and the Netherlands are exempt from this duty since these countries have supported changing the EUs banana regime. (Thank you to Mr. Dave Larrabee from the Metals Division in the Department of Commerce for providing this information.)

Cobalt

The Cobalt Development Institute says cobalt output jumped by 19 percent in 1998. Although cobalt is mainly used to make super-alloys for gas and turbine aircraft engines, applications for use in the rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries have also provided a strong market. In Japan, for example, batteries account for 30 to 40 percent of their total demand for cobalt. Australia was the biggest cobalt exporter to Japan in 1998, supplying 1,250 tonnes or 18.6 percent of Japans total imports of 6,708 tonnes. 1

Prices of cobalt, however, have been volatile and companies such as Sony and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd have explored the possibilities of using manganese or nickel instead of cobalt as electrodes in their Lithium-ion batteries. ( Ed. Note: Safety issues may also be a factor in looking at other chemistries. See BD 38-16, Battery Safety Presentations.)

 

Electric Vehicles

Energy Conversion Devices, EV Global Motors Company and Unique Mobility, Inc. form a joint venture to manufacture electric and hybrid-electric vehicles in Germany. The new venture, Unique Mobility Europa, GmbH will manufacturer an all new, purpose-built minivan using a composite body structure. An Ovonic advanced Nickel-metal-hydride battery will power the electric drivetrain. Vehicle design was done in cooperation with Storz Design of Zell am See, Austria, and the body and chassis engineering is being done in cooperation with Concept Engineering of Bosau, Germany.

The Freedonia Groups new marketing study shows that the electric vehicle industry will be growing at an annual rate of 60 percent up to the year 2007. At that time EVs are expected to become a substantial market generating approximately US $24.2 billion in annual commerce. Freedonias World Electric Vehicles Study states that 4 million EVs will be operating worldwide with EV sales reaching one million annually.

Hybrid electric vehicles are predicted to account for 10 percent of the market in 2007 and fuel cells about 3 percent.

Honda Motor Company ends production of its EV Plus electric-powered car. This fifth largest automaker in the United States will concentrate on building a hybrid electric-gasoline vehicle. In November, Honda plans to begin selling its electric-gasoline car, the VV, in the United States.

Toyota meets 1998 target for sales of zero-emission vehicles in California. They sold 359 RAV4-EVs, which is 37 more vehicles than their initial goal.

Electronics

Cadex Electronics releases new software package for battery maintenance. The key features of the Battery Shop include: Database of 2000+ battery models with preprogrammed test algorithms, 5-second Ohm Test to identify bad batteries, batch servicing mode to handle large numbers of same-model batteries, user-customizable service reports, scanner support for data entry and battery selection, bar-coded battery labels for fleet management, and a modular system: Network 120 C7000 Analyzers to service 480 batteries simultaneously.

Mitsumi Electric Company develops a compact current amplifier to determine the residual power of rechargeable batteries used in notebook computers and personal digital assistants. The device measures 3.1 x 4.4 x 1.25 mm. Production of 500,000 units per month is slated to being in July.

Environment

The Smelting, Refining, and Manufacturing of Lead Pipes Company in Shoubra-el-Kheima, a section of Cairo, Egypt, will move three of its smelters to a new industrial site outside of Cairo within two years. Currently, lead pollution in Shoubra el-Kheima exceeds the World Health Organizations specifications for safe air. This is an important relocation since the Smelting, Refining and Manufacturing of Lead Pipes Company is Egypts largest lead smelting company. At the present time, the three smelters produce between 40 to 60 percent of the lead pollution in the area.

Toxco recycles over a million pounds of Lithium batteries annually at their Lithium Recovery Facility in British Columbia, Canada. Products range from small Lithium-ion phone batteries up to 570 pound Military batteries. Lithium waste is converted to lithium salts, which are sold to primary manufacturers where they are refined and returned to the market as battery cores, concrete additives and industrial greases. Lithium compounds are also manufactured for the grease and battery industries at its 90,000 square foot facility in Baltimore, Ohio. These compounds include electrolytes for advanced battery chemistries.

Fuel Cells

Ford Motor Company, Ballard Power Systems, DaimlerChrysler, ARCO, Shell, Texaco, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission work together to place hydrogen fuel cell-powered passenger cars on the road for long-term testing. Under the program, DailmerChrysler and Ford will each put five fuel-cell vehicles on California roads beginning in 2001 and about 45 fuel cell powered cars and buses between 2000 and 2003.

Ford said their P2000 fuel cell car which will appear on the roadways is a direct hydrogen-fueled, zero emission electric vehicle. However, in the later phase of the California project in 2002 and 2003, on-board reformers will likely fuel their vehicles. Methanol is the leading fuel candidate for those vehicles, although Ford is involved in developing both methanol and gasoline fuel cell reformers.

Lead

The International Lead and Zinc Study Group report that demand for lead, mainly used to make rechargeable batteries, will increase 2.3 percent to 6.12 million tons in 1999. A 9.8 percent rise in Korea is anticipated. European growth is predicted just under 2 percent, but a decline of 4.6 percent is seen in Japan. U.S. growth is slowing down, and only a 1.7 percent growth is anticipated.

Refined lead output will rise 3.3 percent to 6.16 million tons. Approximately 60 percent of refined lead is recycled from scrap.

Lithium

Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems is developing a Lithium-polymer battery. This battery addresses higher voltage systems with half the mass of current Lead-acid batteries for the same power output. An advantage of this battery includes its flexibility in size, shape and configuration.

Ultralife Batteries, Inc. is awarded a $1.7 million U.S. Army Lithium battery production contract. Ultralife has produced this battery previously for the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM). The battery ordered by CECOM is designated BA-X373/U, a 6 Volt cylindrical battery consisting of two Lithium-manganese dioxide cells connected in series and provides a capacity of more than 460 milliAmpere-hours. These non-rechargeable disposable batteries are primarily used to provide the necessary memory back-up power for the most widely used military Singars radio.

Medical Applications

Medtronic, Inc. receives approval from the FDA for its SynchroMed EL infusion system. The implantable drug infusion system delivers medication directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord from outside the body. Like the original SynchroMed system, the SynchroMed EL is surgically placed beneath the skin of the abdomen and delivers drugs via a catheter directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. With SynchroMed EL, advancements in technology will add about three years of battery life, expanding the average time between surgeries to seven years from four years, based on flow rates.

 

Nickel-cadmium

On April 15, the European Commissions Environment Directorate (DG XI) released the second (but largely unchanged) version of the draft Directive on Batteries and Accumulators and began inter-service consultations with the Nickel-cadmium batteries, but the producers of cordless power tools and appliances, medical devices, emergency lighting, safety stand-by power in aircraft, and electric vehicles as well. The comment period on the second draft of this proposed directive ended on April 30, 1999, but it is possible that the directive will not move forward until new commissioners replace the current care-taker commissioners.3

Ultracapacitors

Maxwell Technologies and L-3 Communications will demonstrate an independent power supply to provide backup power for Black Box flight data recorders. The demonstration will be conducted as part of a National Transportation Safety Board- (NTSB) sponsored international symposium on transportation recorders. Using the L-3 Communications black box voice and data recorders, Maxwell will add their PowerCache ultracapacitors to provide backup power to continue recording for at least 10 minutes if aircraft power systems fail. According to NTSB testimony & capacitors are the preferred energy option for independent power supplies. They offer long life and high reliability, even compared to rechargeable batteries.

Zinc

The International Lead and Zinc Study Group reports that Zinc output is expected to increase by 2.1 percent to 8.2 million tons. Most of the rise in output will be seen in Korea, Japan, Thailand, Iran, Kazakhstan and Australia. Demand is likely to equal output with a rise of 2.2 percent to 8.05 million metric tones. Zinc prices have dropped 20 percent in the last year and half. Most of this drop was due to the weak demand in Asia.
BD

REFERENCES
1. Reuters, Aya Takada, 4/20/99
2. Nikkei English News, 4/27/99
3. US Dept. of Commerce, Dave Larrabee, 5/4/99

 

Attending BCI are Ranier Schmidt (left) and Dagfinn Sivertsen of Batterie Fullungs System, GmBH. With a smile on his face, Dagfinn remarked that they have the most wonderful single point watering system in the world.

Pictured at BCI are Jamie Navarrete and Rand Hanschu. In discussing new products, at their booth, they remarked, We are launching the DAGA Equipment Division of Darmic and are highlighting the new enveloping machine for polyethelyne envelopes.

BCIs Counsel, David Weinberg, Esq. of Howrey and Simon, summarized his remarks at the BCI Conference by emphasizing the enormous strides the high tech Lead-acid manufacturers and their suppliers had made in the last 10 years. While production has increased in this industry, plant emissions have been reduced substantially. (Between 1989 and 1995, the lead battery industry slashed lead emissions by 40 percent while increasing shipments of batteries 17 percent, with 21 fewer manufacturing plants operating across the country.) Battery lead has the best recycling record in North American and probably the world.

Although the battery industry has increased shipments and uses about 80 percent of the lead in the U.S., its plant emissions in 1995 accounted for less than one percent of EPAs total estimated national lead emissions. other Commission Directorates. This directive, if enacted, would, among other things, ban the marketing, but not production for export, of Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries and products containing these batteries in the EU as of January 1, 2008. This ban would affect not only the producers of cadmium and