Reef HQ Aquarium Townsville – Commercial Case Study using SoNick batteries

Reef HQ aquarium was looking to add energy storage batteries to their recently upgraded PV system. One requirement of the battery storage was for it to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Reef HQ, near the Great Barrier Reef is a large saltwater aquarium with a strong sustainability ethos. The Aquarium is the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium and has many impressive exhibits, showcasing rare and extraordinary features of the Great Barrier Reef .

One requirement of the battery technology was that it was still safe if the batteries got salt water on them if there was an accident. The aquarium is in Townsville and high tides and flooding are common occurrences in the area. The aquarium couldn’t afford to install batteries that could cause further problems if an accident occurred. The SoNick battery is a sealed unit and isn’t affected by water like other battery technologies can be. Indeed, the SoNick battery chemistry is currently the only battery chemistry UL9540A certified for safety from thermal runaway,

Another requirement was that the batteries shouldn’t be affected by heat. The average temperature in Townsville is 24°C and 40°C days are not uncommon. The SoNick batteries operate with no temperature effects and no degradation from -20°C to +60°C A common problem with battery installation in hot areas is the degradation and shortened lifetime of battery installations in areas with higher temperatures, many installations failing after only a couple of years usage.

Recyclability was another feature taken into account. Due to Reef HQ’s efforts to make sure that their impact on the environment is kept to a minimum this was an important feature in their consideration of any energy storage batteries used. Many batteries today don’t have recycling at end of life taken into account. Some companies say they will introduce recycling programs when x no of batteries need recycling or at some point in the future. Other companies are charging quite large amounts of money to take away failed energy storage batteries. The “Battery Stewardship Council” is a not-for-profit company established in Australia in 2018 to bring together players from across the battery supply chain to ensure that a robust and well-designed battery recycling service is put in place for consumers in metropolitan and regional areas of Australia. Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet cover energy storage batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries weren’t considered suitable due to their fire risk and lack of current recyclability options. Also due to possible ingress of salt water in an emergency situation it was felt the risk of explosion was too great.

Lead acid batteries weren’t suitable due to the heat of the environment. Even in an airconditioned room it is sometimes difficult to keep the temperature at 25°C. On average for every increase in temperature of 8.3°C a battery life is cut in half.

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 at the aquarium. As the SoNick batteries operate with no temperature effects and no degradation from -20°C to +60°C there are no issues if the battery storage room gets hot and the batteries don’t require air conditioning to keep them cool.

Application – Aquarium to provide backup supply
System Objective – Provide sustainable backup power supply to supplement alternative power during occasional blackouts.

Commissioned – December, 2020
Nominal battery storage – 115 kWh
Useable battery storage – 90 kWh
Batteries used – 12 x 48TL200 SoNick molten salt batteries
Inverters used – 6 x Victron Multiplus-II 5kVA inverters
Designed and installed by – Stowe Australia in Brisbane.

If you would like to know more about getting safe, reliable, recyclable, SoNick (molten salt) battery storage used in this aquarium in your own home, business or micro-grid application visit us at

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