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Million-dollar boost for battery researchers

A Massey University research team believes it can develop batteries that are cheaper and more sustainable, and has scored funding to suit

Hands up if you think it's high time someone came up with a battery that's cheaper and more sustainable than the ones you can currently buy?

A research team at Massey University has been awarded nearly $1 million to do just that.

Professor Simon Hall, of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, and his colleagues Dr Mark Waterland and Dr Gareth Rowlands will design a new battery and related technology based on targeted novel chemistries. The new cathodes are expected to result in less expensive, more sustainable long-term commercial products.

If they succeed, it could mean scoring a share in the $4.9 billion global stationary battery market and the global electric vehicle market, worth $30 billion.

Then there are implications for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

The funding has come from the recently formed Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The research team's preliminary work was funded partly by the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

It's shown sufficient promise for Massey University and its commercialisation partner the BioCommerce Centre to form the company Synthodics Ltd. The IP has already been licensed to this company, which Massey believes shows a clear pathway to commercialisation.

The funding was announced today by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

"Our top 10 high-tech companies export $4 billion of product a year but we need more businesses to grow to this size," Mr Joyce said.