Industry news

New Advanced Polymer Battery Lab


New Advanced Polymer Battery Lab to Work in Conjunction with the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)

Advanced lithium battery pack R&D center, Rechargeable Power Energy (RPE) North America, is expanding its facility to include new performance cell and pack testing center, as well as a brand new polymer battery cell prototype lab, a first for Southern Nevada.

Las Vegas, NV (PRWEB) February 10, 2014


Working under a new MOU, the RPE facility and the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at UNLV will band together on the development of advanced chemistry flat pouch and “Hard Polymer” rechargeable battery cells in a clean room setting. Engineering students at the university will have unique access to learn and participate firsthand in the steps and assembly of some of today’s most advanced rechargeable batteries in the world.

Industry surveys indicate that in 2012, the lithium battery market was worth $11.7 billion annually, and is expected to grow to $22.5 billion by 2016. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, the demand for industrial use lithium rechargeable cells is expected to grow 37% annually through 2016.

According to RPE’s chairman, Ms. Gao Ping, “With 99.9% of the world’s lithium rechargeable batteries being made in either China, South Korea, or Japan, very few U.S.-based engineering students or professors have this amazing chance to work first hand with industry leaders.”

Ms. Gao knows something about battery production, as she is the co-Chairman and CEO of Shenzhen B&K Rechargeable Battery, the fifth largest polymer cell manufacturer in China. Her main technology campus produces as many as 15 million cells each month.

According to the College of Engineering Interim Dean Rama Venkat, “We are thrilled and eager to be working with the RPE lab facility, where our students will get real world experience building batteries, while at the same time, we will be able to share some of our own lab facilities to design, develop, and test advanced rechargeable batteries that can be used in many different devices, including those in our new UAV program.” Zachary Miles, Executive Director of UNLV’s new Technology Transfer agrees. “We are excited about the impact that could come from this collaboration,” Miles says. “From student involvement to research opportunities to commercialization, this is a great example of academics and industry working together.”

Ray Verhelst, CEO of RPE, says, “The new prototype lab will be the primer for a new cell production facility that will follow the team’s successful formulation of some proven chemistry in the next 18-24 months. The focus of our line of batteries will be designed to deliver high and low temperature performing cells, as well as high density and power discharge specifically for light electric vehicles. This semi-automated production line will eventually have the flexibility to produce a wide range of battery cells for commercial, industrial, and even government applications.”

According to Dr. Ralph Brodd, President of Broddarp of Nevada, Inc., who is consulting to both RPE and UNLV, “This will become the only advanced flat polymer cell manufacturing facility in the state of Nevada, and one of only a handful within the entire country, when completed.” Dr. Brodd has more than 40 years in the rechargeable battery industry, and is a resident of Henderson, Nevada.

Joining Dr. Brodd will be Dr. Tim Chin, who received his PhD from MIT in Materials Science and spent extensive time in testing rechargeable battery chemistries at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Chin will be helping to establish testing benchmarks and developing new cell platforms for the RPE assembly line.

RPE currently produces advanced battery packs for a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications and consumer products, such as the company’s own line of power-assisted electric bicycles, which are assembled in Las Vegas.

The company has been building its workforce from the wide variety of electrical engineers in the valley, including shining star graduates from UNLV. According to Mike Horan, CTO, “We have been pleasantly surprised at the energy and quality of the workforce, and are excited to be a growing company that adds diversity to the manufacturing base here in Southern Nevada.”

About Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at the University of Nevada Las Vegas 
The Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering offers bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degrees to more than 1,600 students in five departments and programs. With 63 faculty members, the college has created a well-rounded curriculum by combining practical and empirical knowledge with mathematical and scientific fundamentals and principles, which provides a solid foundation for a successful career in engineering and computer science.

About Rechargeable Power Energy North America, LLC – This is a Las Vegas-based battery pack research and development firm specializing in rechargeable energy sources for energy storage, commercial, industrial, and medical devices. The company also designs and builds an advanced line of power-assisted electric bicycles for dealer distribution throughout North America.