Below is a summary of some of the differences between the SoNick battery and other battery technologies.
SoNick will not catch fire
The SoNick battery cannot catch fire or explode. It is the only chemistry UL9540A certified for safety from thermal runaway. This means no risk of fire or explosion, even in the presence of external fire.
All lithium-ion batteries have the potential to catch fire. Depending on the particular lithium-ion technology and safety features included with the battery, the ignition point may change, i.e. the ignition point for lithium ion phosphate is higher than that for lithium manganese cobalt.
If a battery installation is situated next to a building and the battery catches fire it is quite possible for the whole building to be burnt as a result of the difficulties associated with extinguishing lithium-ion fires. Also, when lithium batteries catch fire toxic fumes are given off.
SoNick capacity doesn’t degrade over service life
The SoNick battery doesn’t degrade over its service life. After 10 years you should still be operating at your original capacity.
During summer, when you have an energy storage system on your house, as long as it is sized correctly and you have enough solar PV, you should always be able to fill your batteries to full capacity on a daily basis. You will probably generate excess electricity and export it to the grid, although you will rarely be paid enough to justify this as a useful use of your green energy production system.
In summer, you can generally just ignore your energy storage system and it will cover as much of your power needs as you have designed the system to provide.
However, in winter the situation changes as the hours of solar generation decrease and the sun is lower in the sky, so often produces less PV generation on your solar panels. This is particularly relevant when you have several days in a row of rainy and / or cloudy weather with little to no PV generation. In order to maximise the solar PV available and get the most use from your batteries it may be a good idea to change the way your battery is utilised.
Instead of only filling your battery from solar which is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to fill a household battery you can fill it using off-peak power then using the battery system to provide electricity to your house during peak power usage times, often 3 – 9pm each day. Not as good as charging the battery with the sun but better than paying peak electricity rates.
This domestic installation was designed to run as a grid minimisation installation. Although the grid remains connected it is rarely used.
This is an area with frequent power outages, often for many days so the ability to have power in an off-grid installation when the grid wasn’t available was a major requirement.
Sodium Nickel Chloride (SoNick) batteries were selected as they have the highest energy density of any batteries and are completely safe with no off-gassing or fire risk, meaning there are no safety issues with installing the batteries. As the SoNick batteries operate with no temperature effects and no degradation from -20°C to +60°C there are no issues with either heat or freezing temperatures that are often experienced and the batteries don’t require air conditioning to keep them cool or heaters to heat them enough for them to work.
Lithium-ion batteries weren’t considered due to the difficulty in recycling lithium batteries at end of life and to their inherent fire risk.
Portable commercial office running in off grid situation.
Situated at a crushing plant used to crush concrete blocks for road fill. The portable office is placed near the weighbridge which didn’t have a grid connection to that particular part of site. Connecting to the grid was going to be very expensive and the portable off-grid hut was a perfect solution.
Battery usually discharges to around 50 – 60% capacity each day and is generally fully charged by 12 to 2pm each day.
Installation was easy as batteries could be installed anywhere in the office. As the SoNick battery doesn’t have any gasses given off no special enclosures were needed, unlike lead acid batteries which are what would have been used in this situation previously and would have needed a special room to contain gassing.
Most people that are looking at installing an energy storage system (battery and battery inverter) don’t realise that every installation is different and there is no one size fits all. Installations are very dependent on whether there is already solar PV in place and the current electrical wiring situation at the premises.
When you decide to connect a battery energy storage system to your already installed solar panels there are things that need to be considered that may not become apparent until the actual installation is to take place. These may make installing the battery system much more difficult, costly and time consuming but actually has nothing to do with the actual battery system itself.
When a house is built an electrician will have wired the house and hopefully the wiring meets current electrical standards at the time. However, electrical standards change over time and older houses may not have electrical wiring that meets current standards. Also, particularly with older houses wiring may become damaged or wear out over time.
During bushfires power is often lost to many areas and sometimes is not returned for days or weeks at a time. At these times communities often have to rely on generators, especially if, as in the devastating 2019-2020 Australian bushfires roads are cut off to complete communities for extended periods of time.
Strong winds also tend to bring trees down on power lines, again cutting off your power supply
With the installation of energy
storage systems most people look at the battery and concentrate on that but in
reality the battery inverter is an integral part of any energy storage system
and will dictate much of the energy storage systems operations.
Often when an energy storage
system isn’t working properly the fault lies with the inverter and not the
Inverter power is measured in kVA or volt amps.
The battery inverter takes power
from the solar PV array (solar inverter or MPPT) and battery which can be of
different voltages and converts it to 240V for household of business use.
Solar inverters are designed to
work with solar PV arrays and battery inverters are designed to work with
energy storage batteries. Hybrid inverters are also coming onto the market that
combine both solar PV and battery conversions.
More and more people are recognising that one of the major
issues with energy storage batteries are the dangers with fires and explosions
particularly associated with thermal runaway (self-sustaining fires). This has
become particularly relevant as people are considering installing the many
lithium ion battery technologies in their houses or businesses and are becoming
aware of the possibility of the dangers associated with this.
Standards Australia has been working on new installation
standards “AS-NZ 5139_2019” which will try and address this issue but there is
still a lot of discussion around whether the new installation restrictions are
too strict or are really looking at individual battery characteristics
correctly and fairly.
International Standard “UL9540A” has been developed to independently examine Fire Risk with Battery Cells and Evaluate Thermal Runaway Fire Propagation in Battery Energy Storage Systems.
GridEdge was recently asked to power Melbourne’s 3 day Sustainable Living Festival’s “Off the Grid” tent with our clean energy trailer with its Sodium nickel chloride (SoNick) battery .
This annual festival, is held at Melbourne’s Federation Square and runs along the Yarra river with many stalls showcasing renewable energy, sustainable living practices and gardening and permaculture information.