Business Chinese investor plugs into significant Czech battery invention

11-03-2016 17:20 | Chris Johnstone

Electricity storage is a massive missing link in today’s energy sector, but a Chinese investor is now willing to invest hundreds of millions of crowns in a Czech battery invention which some say could overcome this major hurdle for the development of renewables and clean transport.

Photo: HE3DAPhoto: HE3DA Chines investor plugs into significant Czech battery invention A Czech invention that has been heralded as a potential revolution in the energy sector has landed a substantial Chinese investment to help it onto the market.

Chinese multi-millionaire Chu Juan Pin has agreed, according to Friday’s edition of the business daily Hospodářské Noviny, to pay 50 million euros for a 49 percent stake in the company created around Czech inventor and researcher Jan Procházky with the pledge of a further 50 million euros next year for research costs and development.

Jan Procházka, photo: HE3DAJan Procházka, photo: HE3DA Jan Procházka is at the centre of a new so-called 3D battery which offers much faster charging times and much greater amounts of stored energy than even the most advanced current lithium batteries now on offer. Experts familiar with the battery design say it could well be the sort of Holy Grail for the current major problem that electricity from renewable energy sources cannot be easily stored and must be used immediately. The capacity of the new battery is said to be, in certain respects, 20 times those of its current equivalents.

The company HE3DA, photo: Google Street ViewThe company HE3DA, photo: Google Street View It could also, they say, pave the way for a mass market in electric cars. The biggest drawbacks of such cars at the moment is the relative weakness of the batteries, which mean they often have a range of a few hundred kilometres before they have to be re-charged, and the relatively high costs linked in part to the small and developing market.

Procházka, together with North Moravian businessmen Radomír Prus and Vladimír Jirka, who together got together to found the company HE3DA, were approached by several major businesses, including Taiwanese based multinational Foxconn, as well as German and Slovak investors before opting for the offer from the Chinese millionaire. He has a record of investing in innovative projects and already has a portfolio of energy and other investments with a turnover of around 315 billion crowns.

Photo: HE3DAPhoto: HE3DA HE3DA has so far been based in Prague’s Letňany district but the first factory to build the new batteries should take shape this year in North Moravia, more specifically at Horní Suchá. The production lines will be developed there but mass production will in all likelihood be relocated around the world. Future technology development and research should, however, remain in the Czech Republic.

Jan Procházka has previously worked in both Germany and the United States but returned to the Czech Republic in 2005. He has participated in some patents focused on nano-technology and contributed to the patents on which the current line of electric buses produced by Škoda Plzeň are based.

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