A Tale of Two Battery Companies

John Petersen The last few weeks have offered a fascinating object lesson for believers in Benjamin Graham's theory that "In the short run the market acts like a voting machine, but in the long run it acts like a weighing machine." Since January 4th I've watched in awe as Exide Technologies (XIDE) lost roughly 30% of its market value and Ener1 (HEV) lost closer to 40%. The difference is that Exide took a voting machine beat down because it lost a well-known but financially immaterial customer while Ener1 seems to be caught in the early stages of a...

Hydrogenics Awarded Contract to Supply Hydrogen Generators to China’s Largest Energy Companies

Hydrogenics Corp (HYGS) announced that it has received orders to supply electrolysis-based hydrogen generator plants to two of China's largest energy companies. China Electric Power Energy Group and China National Power have each purchased a HySTAT-A Hydrogen Plant, capable of producing 10 Nm3/h of high purity hydrogen at a pressure of 25 bar. In both cases, the hydrogen produced will be used to cool the generators in a coal-fired power plant. Delivery of both orders is expected to take place in 2006.

A123 Systems, An Object Lesson In Toxic Financing

John Petersen July has been a ghastly month for stockholders of A123 Systems (AONE) who've watched in horror as the stock price collapsed from $1.30 on July 5th to $0.49 at Friday's close. While there was unfavorable news of a director resignation yesterday, all the other news over the last month has been positive, at least at first blush. In my view the market activity was both predictable and directly attributable to recent toxic financing transactions that will have A123 printing stock faster than Ben Bernanke is printing dollars for the foreseeable future. I'd love to be able...
Nemaska's Whabouchi site

Nemaska: A Lithium Bargain

Nemaska Lithium (NMKEF:  OTC/PK, NMX:  TO) is a newcomer to the lithium industry.  The company recently came to the market with battery-grade lithium from spodumene rock carved out of its Whabouchi mine in northern Quebec, Canada and converted in a proprietary electrochemical process to battery-grade lithium material at an in-house facility in Shawinigan to the south.  The company filled its first orders in Summer 2018. The company expected to produce over 200,000 metric tons of lithium-bearing spodumene concentrate from its Whabouchi mine with an average 6.25% lithium oxide content.  The mine is expected to remain productive for over three decades at that extraction rate.  The processing plant in...

What I Sold: VRB Power (VRBPF.PK, VRB.V)

VRB Power is the only public vendor of a flow battery chemistry, the Vanadium Redox Battery. I bought the company when I first realized that in order to get a large proportion of intermittent wind and solar energy onto the grid, long term electricity storage would be essential.  Of the available technologies, flow batteries are some of most technically elegant.  Since VRB is one of only two publicly traded vendors of large scale batteries, I bought some.   Lessons Learned I was not being discriminating.  Even with the belief that large scale storage will soon be needed to integrate...

Are Investors Right To Panic About Exide Technologies?

Tom Konrad CFA Thursday Afternoon Panic On Thursday, April 4th, battery manufacturer and recycler Exide Technologies’ (NASD:XIDE) stock plunged, starting around 2pm.  There was no press release or SEC filing from the company, or stories on the public newswires.  Likely short sellers were stoking rumors on the chat boards that the company had filed for bankruptcy, and that the story was on Reuters. Electric Storage Battery Company advertisement for Exide batteries in the journal Horseless Age, January 15, 1918 Intraday, panicked shareholders dumped their shares for as little as $1.16,...

Shares in Altair Nanotechnologies Purchased

I purchased shares in Altair Nanomaterials (ALTI) this morning for both my personal portfolio and also the mutual fund. ALTI is a holding company that specializes in nanomaterials and also contains a life sciences division. The materials company has research in high performance batteries, fuel cells, and photovoltaics. Altair announced earnings today and the stock is up on the morning trading. Revenue Increases 68 Percent for Third Quarter and 230 Percent for Nine-Month Period "An increase in revenue of 230 percent for the first three quarters of 2005 is representative of the significant progress Altair has...

Arotech Zinc-Air Battery Named One of the US Army’s ‘Great Inventions of the Year’

Arotech Corporation (ARTX) announced today that the BA-8180 Zinc Air battery developed by Arotech's Battery and Power Systems Division - has been designated as one of the "Greatest Army Inventions" of the past year. The ten winning teams will be recognized June 23 by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Arotech is primarily a defense contractor. However, they are a lead contractor for the Military looking at Alternative Energy resources.

Ultralife Batteries, Inc. Awarded $7.4 Million Battery Contract by U.S. Defense Department

Ultralife Batteries Inc (ULBI) has been awarded a new production contract for its BA-5390/U battery valued at approximately $7.4 million, by the U.S. Defense Department. This contract is independent of the Next Gen II, Phase IV five-year battery contract for the BA-5390 and four other rectangular military batteries, which the company was awarded in December 2004. Deliveries under this $7.4 million contract are required to be completed by May 14.

Electric Vehicles Will Increase China’s Air Pollution

John Petersen Last week the American Chemical Society published a white paper in Environmental Science & Technology from a team of researchers at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Argonne National Laboratory Center for Transportation Research titled "Environmental Implication of Electric Vehicles in China." This white paper concludes that: Implementing electric vehicles in China will increase national CO2, SO2 and NOX emissions; and Gasoline HEVs are more environmentally friendly, more commercially mature, and less cost-intensive. The following graph comes from page 4 of the white paper and compares the relative fleet wide CO2 emissions for gasoline ICEs,...

Battery Cost Forecasts and The Origin of Specious*

*with humble apologies to Charles Darwin John Petersen The Oxford Dictionary defines the adjective 'specious' as: Superficially plausible, but actually wrong; Misleading in appearance, especially misleadingly attractive. The Wiktionary offers a broader definition as: Seemingly well-reasoned or factual, but actually fallacious or insincere; strongly held but false; Having an attractive appearance intended to generate a favorable response; deceptively attractive. Over the last two years I've patiently analyzed the evolving price and performance forecasts of electric vehicle advocates and lithium-ion battery developers. In the process I've shown them to be possible, but unlikely, and...

War With Iran? Buy Alternative Energy Stocks.

September is starting out as the month of speculation about a massive three day air strike on Iran.  Is Bush ready to attack Iran while our troops are still trying to stabilize both Afghanistan and Iraq?  In February, administration officials were denying it.   The preparations now going on could simply be the stick part of a negotiating strategy; the bad cop to Russia's good cop.  But Bush's chances of successful cooperation with Putin could be better. What if? If Bush does launch a massive three day air strike on Iran, what will that mean for alternative energy stocks?  I...

Beacon Power Receives Contract from Bechtel Bettis, Inc. to Demonstrate Advanced Flywheel-Based Power System

Beacon Power Corp (BCON) has announced that it has been awarded a contract from Bechtel Bettis, Inc., to design and deliver an advanced flywheel-based power system demonstration unit. Bill Capp, Beacon Power president and CEO says "...Although this contract is not considered material from a revenue standpoint, these types of projects are significant because they extend our technology portfolio, help defray operating expenses, and can lead to other business opportunities."

The Rocky Road to Lithium Ion Battery Commercialization

by Debra Fiakas CFA A bit of history… Schematic of a Lithium Ion Battery by Materialsgrp, via Wikimedia Commons Lithium ion batteries are a relatively recent innovation.  Scientists and engineers first began working with lithium applications in the 1970s.  A number of companies and laboratories worked through the next decade to perfect lithium ion batteries, using various materials for the business ends of a battery  -  the anode and the cathode.  It was not until the mid 1980s that developers settled on cobalt as...

Hydrogen is a long-term story… and that’s exactly why I like QuestAir Tech

Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP or TSE:BLD) was arguably the first high-profile alternative energy story to hit North American markets since the oil shock of the 1970s, at a time when investors knew much less about the promises and pitfalls of fuel cells and the so-called “hydrogen economy��? than they do today. It was also an era of general euphoria about anything tech and Ballard got caught into it all. But today I will not focus on Ballard - I’m only giving this example to highlight the fact that the idea of hydrogen powering our whole economy cleanly and renewably...

Battery Manufacturers, Burger Joints and Secret Sauce

John Petersen In September I received an e-mail from France Innovation Scientifique & Transfert SA advertising their new IP Overview of Lithium Metal Phosphate Batteries - 2010/04. While I don't usually pay attention to e-mail pitches for costly reports, the FIST solicitation caught my eye because the abstract explained that roughly 1,100 patent applications have been filed for lithium metal phosphate chemistry since Dr. Goodenough's key patent issued in 1996. It's enough to give a guy a whole new perspective on this T-shirt from EV World. It also raises a couple critical issues that many...