The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 29, 2012

EP helping write ‘new chapter in story’ of energy

JOPLIN, Mo. — Capturing wind and solar energy to create electricity is a key element in the national goal of becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.

But what happens when clouds obscure the sun or the wind is not strong enough to blow out a candle? How can the peaks and valleys of variable output be controlled to create a steady stream of reliable energy?

EaglePicher Technologies, a Joplin-based manufacturer of batteries for space, military and medical applications, has come up with a possible answer to those questions.

On Friday, during a press conference at the manufacturing plant, the company unveiled the PowerPyramid — a hybrid battery that combines old and new technologies to form a cell that fits inside a portable cargo container.

“We are here to acknowledge and participate in the start of a new chapter in the story of the energy industry in the United States and quite possibly the world,’’ said Randy Moore, president of EaglePicher Technologies.

“The ability to store electricity on a mass scale solves a number of problems for our energy future,’’ he said. “For the problem of alternative energy stabilization, when the wind stops blowing or clouds pass across the sky, mass storage fills in the gaps caused by the intermittency or unreliability of alternative energy.’’

Instead of your standard ribbon-cutting ceremony, the system was commissioned with the throwing of a giant switch. After that, Moore offered a champagne toast to the future of Joplin and the jobs that are expected to be created by the new product.

After the commissioning of the battery, Gary Burton, who works as a lobbyist for EaglePicher in Jefferson City, said the potential of the PowerPyramid could be enormous.

“I know that industry is interested in this project,” he said. “They’re interested in anything that can save them money and help them manage their power costs.’’

In addition to creating a steady stream of power from unsteady sources, Moore said the giant batteries can be used to lower the cost of electrical power for an industrial user. Power purchased during daylight hours — the hours of peak demand — can be four to five times more expensive in some areas of the country when compared with the power purchased at night when demand for electrical energy falls.

Said Moore: “For the problem of peak-energy-differential cost, mass electricity storage can store inexpensive energy at night and utilize that energy in the daytime, when it is more expensive because demand is so high relative to generating capacity.’’

Moore said the PowerPyramid is not a product of a startup company. It comes from a company with a long tradition of producing reliable and long-lived batteries. He said the company’s medical implant batteries can last for 10 years. Its batteries for weapon systems can last 20 years.

“EaglePicher batteries powered the Hubble Telescope for 19 years on a spec anticipated to last five to seven years,’’ he said, noting that EP batteries power the International Space Station and more than 400 orbiting satellites.

Said Moore: “Reliability is pretty important when you’re talking about equipment hooked up to the grid.’’

Ron Nowlin, vice president and general manager of EP Technologies, said the PowerPyramid involves three chemistries to optimize the life of the battery. One layer is lithium ion, a newer and more expensive technology. Three layers are of tubular lead acid and six layers are of lead acid, one of the least expensive and oldest battery chemistries on the market today.

Nowlin said the components for the battery are put through strict quality-control tests at the company’s manufacturing site in the Crossroads Business and Distribution Park. The components are produced in controlled environments that eliminate the potential for contamination. With some of the components, robotic stackers are used to assemble the batteries. X-rays are used to verify that the battery welds are solid.

To test the battery’s operating platform and controls, EaglePicher is using one 10-kilowatt wind turbine and 20 kilowatts of solar generating capacity at its plant.

Nowlin said the platform gives potential buyers of the system an opportunity to observe a functioning unit. A selling feature for the battery will be its flexibility in that it can be designed to deliver varying levels of power in 100-kilowatt building blocks.

The unit at the plant can deliver one megawatt of power for up to two hours. That would be enough energy to operate the Crossroads plant for three to four hours, a company spokesman said. Smaller portable versions of the battery could be developed for military applications. Several cells could be linked together to create a battery as large as a football field.

Patent pending

A patent for the EaglePicher battery is pending.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Gov. Nixon signs measure extending Missouri Rx program

    Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Thursday sponsored by Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, that will extend Missouri’s prescription drug assistance program for another three years.

    July 11, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Accent pillows overwhelm bedroom

    I’m surrounded by mush. Not fried mush, which I think is one of the greatest breakfast foods ever invented as long as it’s prepared correctly.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wally Kennedy MUG72.jpg Wally Kennedy: Lumpy’s takes BBQ on the road

    You don’t have to travel too far to find a barbecue place. They’re spread out. If you want barbecue in the north part of Joplin, you can visit Woody’s Smokehouse in the village of Airport Drive. If you want something downtown, there’s Sawmill BBQ in the 600 block of South Main Street. Near Seventh Street and Range Line Road is Billy Sims Barbecue.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Globe Alerts contest winners announced

    Congratulation to Bill Harvey and Michelle Ramriez!

    They won tickets to see the Cardinals play on Friday, July 18 in St. Louis.

    They won just for being registered to receive text and email Joplin Globe Alerts.

    You can Win too. Just register and wait for our contest announcements.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071114 Mustang1_72.jpg Mustangs roll into Joplin for Mother Road Weekend

    Amanda Massey, of Joplin, gasped when she saw the 1968 fastback Mustang. “This is gorgeous — simply gorgeous,’’ she said. “I have always wanted an old Mustang.’’ With family members in tow, Massey had an opportunity Friday to examine a herd of wild and colorful Mustangs that muscled its way onto Main Street in downtown Joplin for the Mustang Mother Road Weekend.

    July 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Local libraries target early childhood literacy with state program

    Local libraries are reporting great success so far this summer with the Racing to Read program, an early childhood literacy initiative from the state. The program, established by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, is designed to help strengthen and expand the quality and availability of library services to address early literacy needs in Missouri.

    July 11, 2014

  • Joplin High School construction ‘fast, furious’ in homestretch

    Will Joplin High School be ready for classes next month? It’s a question that is being asked of Superintendent C.J. Huff almost daily now, and he said Friday that the project is still tracking for an Aug. 25 opening. “I’m over there almost every day, and the transformation is remarkable,” he said.

    July 11, 2014

  • Four State Farm Show gearing for 40th year

    The annual Four State Farm Show, which brings thousands of farmers and ranchers to the area, has grown into a mall of agriculture over the past 40 years.

    July 11, 2014

  • Carver Day activities planned at monument

    Nearly 1,000 people will descend on George Washington Carver National Monument Saturday for the 71st annual Carver Day ceremony.

    July 11, 2014

  • Camper dies from copperhead snake bite in Missouri

    A St. Charles man is dead after being bitten by a copperhead snake while camping with his family in southeast Missouri.

    July 11, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A study, to be reported on in Sunday’s Globe, recently reviewed the market conditions across the region. Do you think this is a good time to start a business?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter