Volt lights up the global battery market

The BOOST FP is the world’s first truly intelligent, high capacity rechargeable battery.

An innovative Auckland company, Volt Technology, is preparing to shake up the global marketplace with its advanced AA and AAA rechargeable battery.

Volt’s chief executive Andrew Wigney says its 1.5v BOOST FP provides full power output for a longer period than any other disposable or rechargeable AA and AA battery presently on the market.

"It’s the world’s first truly intelligent, high capacity rechargeable battery. Our BOOST FP (full power) can be recharged up to 1000 times. This means if you recharge the battery every week, it will still have good capacity after about 20 years,’’ he says.

Supported by a series of grants facilitated by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Volt spent two years on research and development. Volt’s final step before launching onto the market is to reduce the circuit board in the battery to a chip size, and make BOOST FP saleable.

It all began when Andrew was having trouble powering his garden sprinkler in his backyard at Devonport. ``I was putting normal 1.2v disposable batteries in the tap timer and they wouldn’t last more than a week. There wasn’t enough power to drive the solenoids which opened and closed the water flow. The tap timer got confused and thought the batteries were going flat.

"The 1.5v Energiser Ultimate Lithium disposable battery, which lasted three months, worked fine but you pay for that. I thought `why couldn’t we have a rechargeable battery that has the same power as the Energiser Ultimate Lithium’,’’ says Andrew.

He drew up a design, and worked with Auckland electronic engineers, Electronic Partners, to create a prototype and demonstrate proof of concept. The BOOST FP battery is powered by a high energy density (3.7v) lithium iron core.

"The circuit is the intelligence that keeps the battery going longer at full power. The advanced electronics makes the battery compatible with any device – a torch, camera and flash, remote control, electric toothbrush … anything.

Andrew Wigney: "Why couldn’t we have a rechargeable battery that has the same power as the Energiser Ultimate Lithium?’’

"Part of the problem with all other AA and AAA batteries is that they lose voltage and output power as they discharge leading to a less than optimal user experience,’’ says Andrew. `You can see this when your flashlight starts to dim or your remote controlled-toy slows down.

This means you need to recharge the regular battery when it has only half discharged or discard your single-use battery when it still has power available.’’

Tests have shown the BOOST FP battery allows a flashlight to shine at full brightness five times longer than the Alkaline disposable and two times longer than NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) rechargeable batteries.

Volt has had the backing of nearly $40,000 worth of capability, and research and development grants from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation under the Regional Business Partner Network programme.

Early in 2016 Volt raised additional capital to complete the research and development work and it now has shareholders based in Australia, United States and New Zealand – while Andrew and his wife Therese still have a majority ownership.

One of Callaghan’s grants helped Volt exhibit its exciting product at the world Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016 at Las Vegas. ``We made contact with ATEED in late December and they told us about the innovation mission Callaghan was leading to the trade show. The next thing we are part of the delegation and we obtained late funding,’’ says Andrew.

``ATEED’s connection helped us out to a huge extent. Attending the trade show was a great success. Over the three days we had 1000 visitors and finished up with 250 business cards and 100 worthwhile contacts.

"Two major battery manufacturers came and saw us, we had countless resellers from around the world wanting to take our product once it was on the market, and other product manufacturers using AA and AAA batteries wanted to talk about having our’s in their devices.’

Volt has signed up to Callaghan’s Innovation IP programme designed to give the business a greater understanding and confidence to manage and protect its own intellectual property and assets.

Instead of committing to manufacturing, Volt is looking to license the BOOST FP battery and selling the rights. "We want to be negotiating by the end of 2016 and get significant shareholder returns in 2017,’’ says Andrew.