Fonterra has partnered with US energy storage company, PolyJoule, to trial an industrial-scale organic battery at its Waitoa UHT site in New Zealand.
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Fonterra trials sustainable organic battery at UHT plant
Cow grazing grass with herd behind it

Made from electrically conductive polymers, the battery is an organic-based compound that acts like a metal. Fonterra describes it as a low-cost, sustainable and long-life battery capable of providing energy security and distributed electricity generation in the country.

The battery was first installed last year on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa, where it was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for ten months. With the move to the co-op’s Waitoa UHT site, the battery can be hit by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra COO, Fraser Whineray, said: “As a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the co-operative’s local sales and exports”.

He continued: “At Fonterra, we have a strategy to lead in sustainability, and innovation partnerships are a critical ingredient to achieving this. The PolyJoule battery has a remarkable discharge rate, which may ultimately link with ultra-fast charging our fleet, including Milk-E, our electric milk tanker.”

PolyJoule CEO, Eli Paster, commented that he “sees great opportunity for growth in New Zealand both in terms of supporting energy security and job creation in the manufacturing and technology sectors”.

He continued: “We both have sustainability front and centre of our strategy and understand the importance of a reliable, green supply of electricity for quickly chilling the raw milk on farm, processing and distribution…Since PolyJoule batteries do not rely on lithium, nickel or lead, the materials are easier to source, and the batteries are safer and easier to manufacture anywhere in the world, including New Zealand.”

“When you look at where the grid is heading, and the number of batteries needed for the region, building a manufacturing base in New Zealand could create hundreds of new jobs and a new green energy hub.”

Globally, consumers can’t get enough of the quality and taste of American dairy products. Foreign exports of American dairy are twice the volume of the nation’s domestic dairy consumption. Last year, about 18% of U.S. dairy production was exported, and economists forecast that percentage to grow more than 25% in 2023.

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