NEW ZEALAND – Pushing the wheel of sustainability forward in the dairy industry, Fonterra has announced the start of trialing of an organic polymer industrial-scale battery in partnership with an MIT spin-off that could lead to a sustainable fast electricity charging source for a milk tanker fleet.

The battery has been at a Fonterra farm at Waikato’s Te Rapa where it has supported dairy shed operations for 10 months.

Claimed to be a world-first, the long-life battery made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology associate PolyJoule, from electrically-conductive polymers, an organic compound that acts like a metal.

The technology involves alternating carbon-to-carbon single and double bonds connected to form a conductive backbone like a metal, letting electrons flow along the polymer chain.

PolyJoule chief executive Eli Paster said the batteries did not rely on lithium, nickel, or lead, materials for it were easier to source, and they were safer and easier to manufacture anywhere in the world, including New Zealand.

PolyJoule which describes itself as a Boston-based energy storage company pioneering conductive polymer battery technology said a great opportunity for growth existed in New Zealand both as a supporter of energy security and job creation in the manufacturing and technology sectors.

The company bosted to have re-invented what a 21st-century grid battery should be: Ultra-Safe, Sustainable, Long-Life, and Low-Cost.

This could be a significant step for Fonterra which was a significant electricity user, at about 2.5 percent of the national grid, and needed a sustainable and secure electricity supply to ensure the smooth running of sales and exports.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray said the battery has been moved to the company’s Waitoa UHT production site, which can be hit by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Whineray added that the battery installation was the third decarbonization project Fonterra’s Waitoa site had recently adopted.

He noted: “The PolyJoule battery has a remarkable discharge rate, which may ultimately link with the ultra-fast charging of our fleet, including Milk-E, our electric milk tanker.”

When you look at where the grid is heading and the number of batteries needed for the region, building a manufacturing base in New Zealand could create hundreds of new jobs and a new green energy hub.”

During the launch of Milk-E, New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Fonterra said the electric pump on the driver’s side has reduced the pipework on the truck by 3.4 meters, reducing tare weight.

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