NAATBatt International President Davion Hill and I recently had a long talk about what we can do to make NAATBatt more relevant and more valuable to its members.  One of the ideas we discussed was the possibility of having NAATBatt organize and administer a pre-competitive research fund for the benefit of its members.  The concept is that interested members would make a capital contribution to the fund in exchange for a seat on its steering committee.  NAATBatt would seek to match the member contributions with federal and state grant moneys.  Davion and I are very confident that a neutral, industry-led research fund working on pre-competitive issues important to the advanced battery industry would be virtual magnet for government support.

There is, of course, plenty of precedent for industry organizations organizing research funds and doing pretty much exactly what Davion and I envision.  USABC, EPRI and ALABC all sponsor member-funded, pre-competitive research programs and in many cases successfully leverage those funds with government grants.  NAATBatt would do well to learn from the experience of these other industry programs.  It must also avoid duplicating their efforts.

There are many areas where NAATBatt members share pre-competitive business interests that are not already the subject of other organizations’ research efforts.  Three such areas, which seem to cry out for attention, are the safe transportation of advanced batteries, the safe containment and fire-suppression of advanced batteries once installed in stationary ESS system, and the cost-effective recycling of advanced batteries at the end of their useful lives.  The non-resolution of each of these issues imposes a uniform cost on all companies operating in the advanced battery business.  A uniform effort to address these issues is fully warranted.

NAATBatt International plans to host a general meeting later this year of companies that might be interested in participating in a fund and shaping its structure and direction.  This will be a great opportunity to make meaningful progress on some of the issues that promise to limit the upside potential of the entire industry.  Please keep an eye out for future announcements and give serious consideration to participating.