Issue: May 2009


A Battery Boost For The Ailing Auto Industry



by Jon Knox

On April 30, 2009, Chrysler became the first major U.S. automaker to declare bankruptcy since Studebaker in 1933. Under the rules of Chapter 11, Chrysler has a chance to shed assets, restructure debt, cancel contracts, and close operations; if the auto giant should fail to successfully reorganize, however, it might face Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which could ultimately mean liquidation. The Chrysler collapse is only the latest sad chapter in Detroit's generations-long unwillingness to embrace fuel efficiency and environmentally sound practices. Attempting to redress that imbalance, included in the recent economic stimulus and recovery package is a $40 billion provision intended for energy efficient and renewable programs, including $2 billion earmarked for advanced battery systems.

“Lighter, more efficient batteries could hold the key to a more economically and environmentally sound future,” says William Robinson, Chairman and CEO of Bellingham-based Integral Technologies, Inc., a development-stage company that may have created a new building block for a better Detroit. “While you can’t change the basics of how batteries works, you can change the materials that are used to create them.”

Integral has done just that, developing a moldable conductive plastic named ElectriPlastÔ, a polymer blend that can be used to conduct electricity. ElectriPlast consists of small single pellets design compounded with metal fibers that, when poured into a molding machine and shaped, may help streamline production of batteries and electronics.

With ElectriPlast replacing lead or stainless steel, batteries could be twenty-to-thirty pounds lighter than traditional ones used today; on average most components would weigh 80% less than standard metal counterparts. Lighter doesn’t only mean faster, it also means greener. Today, decreased vehicle weight translates into lower fuel consumption. Tomorrow, a better, more efficient battery likely holds the key to widespread popularity of hybrid and electric cars, and the nation curbing its dependence on foreign oil.

After spending years perfecting hundreds of formulations and blends of the material, Integral is actively showcasing ElectriPlast to various industries. There are more than 118 patents filed around the product and its use. Along with its official manufacturing partner, Jasper Rubber Products, (www.jasperrubber.com), Integral is currently working to apply their innovations toward the creation of antennas, apparel, appliances, audio & visual devices, automotive products, batteries, cables, computers, electrical and heating systems, and more

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