ZAF Energy Systems has received a contract for $2.5 million to develop and produce prototype scaled-up nickel-zinc battery cells for marine applications.

The Joplin company made the announcement Tuesday.

The subcontract from ACI Technologies was awarded under a prime contract from the Office of Naval Research, with funding coming from the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology program. ACI Technologies Inc. is a scientific research corporation that operates the U.S. Navy's Center of Excellence in Electronics Manufacturing.

Doug Crawford, ACI’s program manager, said in a statement: “This is a key project to increase potential marine battery capacity using safe and cost-effective technology. The current lead-acid cell provides less than half the capacity that the nickel-zinc will provide in the same space. As marine electrical systems expand and evolve, there is an ever-greater need for more power.”

ZAF said in a statement that demand for its nickel-zinc battery as a replacement for lead-acid, nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion batteries is growing.

Randy Moore, president and CEO of ZAF Energy Systems, said in a statement, “ZAF’s business plan has always been to license our nickel-zinc technology to the world’s battery manufacturers as a green alternative to other environmentally unfriendly battery chemistries. As we approach this licensing milestone, we will dedicate the low-rate manufacturing capacity we’ve built in Joplin to specialty markets such as aerospace and defense. This contract award represents a significant step in that journey.”

Joplin-based ZAF Energy Systems this spring announced the completion of a $22 million capital raising campaign, with funding from several investors, to help "accelerate the commercialization and adoption" and meet demand for its nickel-zinc battery chemistry, as well as expand manufacturing.

ZAF has a plant in Joplin's Crossroads Center Business and Distribution Park. The company said there is demand for its batteries from large-scale data storage, telecommunications, health care and commercial trucking. The company also said it also is working with different segments of the U.S. Department of the Defense using nickel-zinc battery chemistry.

ZAF officials also said it hopes to double its workforce from 50 to 100 within a year and bring that workforce to 150 at some point in 2022, Moore said.

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