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21 November 2005


New "flow battery" technology project to showcase Lotus Engineering's non-automotive engineering skills

Lotus Engineering is widely known for its automotive engineering excellence, but a new "flow battery" project brings to light the diverse skills base that has been nurtured and refined at its headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk.

ITI Energy is investing £9.3 million to develop a novel "flow battery" capable of delivering high power capacity for an extended period of time at low-cost. The R&D project and associated commercial development, which will be based in Scotland, involves a collaboration of Applied Intellectual Capital (AIC), Electrochemical Design Associates (EDA) and Lotus Engineering.

Lotus Engineering will act as the engineering consultancy that will support the realisation of the product by providing key skills to support the project from prototype design through to product realisation. Plurion Systems Inc., will contribute all of its background IP and know how to the project to form Plurion Ltd. a new Scottish company to lead the commercialisation of the technology.

Ian McDonald, Chief Electrical Engineer at Lotus Engineering, commented: "This is a challenging and exciting project for Lotus Engineering to be involved with. We will be bringing a number of skills to the project that we have obtained from both the automotive and non-automotive engineering fields together to support the production and commercialisation of alternative energy technologies."

The resulting technology is expected to have a range of key applications, including large scale power storage for use with renewable power generation. The R&D project will focus on producing large scale 250kW modules capable of offering up to 8 - 10 hours of continuous high capacity discharge.

Existing applications of large scale power storage are limited due to the lack of low-cost, commercially proven technology alternatives to pumped hydro and compressed air systems. Novel flow battery technology, such as that being developed in this current programme, is key to improving power supply-demand quality, reliability and efficiency.

David Thomas, Chief Engineer Chassis System Design, commented: "Lotus Engineering has worked on a number of non-automotive projects in the past and this serves to strengthen our profile within the non-automotive sector. Our extensive knowledge not only assists with product concepts and development, but also with the commercialisation of the products."

Steve Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, AIC and Director of Plurion Ltd, said: "We are looking forward to working with ITI Energy, Scottish Researchers and the many Scottish companies that can help develop and benefit from the introduction of this technology. We look forward to growing Plurion Ltd into a world class Scottish-based global enterprise."

Tony Amor, Chief Executive Officer, ITI Energy, said: "The successful development and commercialisation of this game-changing technology will have enormous implications for capturing the full potential of Scotland's renewable resources, at the same time as offering Scotland the opportunity to sell a unique product around the world."

Lotus Engineering is planning to have an engineering presence within Plurion's Scottish engineering facility. It will also assist with the training of local personnel and technology transfer into the country that is only an hour's flight away from Lotus' headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, UK.