Port Huron’s Wirtz invests in Missouri battery firm

PORT HURON — Wirtz Manufacturing Co. Inc., the Port Huron-based battery technology firm, has made a strategic investment in Joplin, Mo.-based ZAF Energy Systems Inc.

ZAF officials said the investment would allow it to expand its rechargeable nickel-zinc battery technology, growing manufacturing capacity from hundreds of batteries per month to thousands of batteries per month.

This investment in a full production line will allow licensing and joint venture partners to validate the quality and throughput of the technology for commercially-scaled factories that are expected to begin buildouts in 2019.

“We became very excited in partnering with ZAF when we experimented with the ZAF electrodes and found that we could produce plates at similar production rates as lead-acid technology after seeing the performance improvements and cost savings being delivered by nickel-zinc battery technologies,” said John Wirtz, CEO of Wirtz Manufacturing.

Added ZAF President and CEO Randy Moore: “The investment from Wirtz, a respected leader and innovator in the battery industry, offers further validation of the company’s NiZn battery technology. As ZAF continues to commercialize our technology it is vital to have a partner like Wirtz.”

ZAF’s batteries are helping to meet customer demands for powerful, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly battery solutions.

“We’re seeing our technology perform well in rigorous battery performance testing by major commercial trucking, telecommunications, and large-scale data storage companies,” Moore said. “Customers are ready to place orders as soon as our manufacturing capacity is available, and this investment will help us do that. We believe our partnership with Wirtz provides ZAF with best in class manufacturing equipment lines to ensure our quality is both excellent and consistent worldwide.”

The investment by Wirtz follows a $600,000 investment commitment ZAF received last year from Missouri’s Department of Economic Development Fund. These investments are being used by the company to hire employees, expand production, and forge strategic partnerships. This additional production capability will further enable ZAF to accelerate licensing and joint venture negotiations and commercialize its NiZn batteries on a global scale.

ZAF’s NiZn batteries have potential uses in a wide range of applications, including automotive, heavy trucking, remote telecom, and renewable energy. NiZn batteries are poised to disrupt the $50 billion conventional lead-acid battery market with its ability to provide twice the storage capacity and three times the power of legacy lead-acid batteries in a smaller, lighter package. More at www.zafsys.com.

Wirtz Manufacturing is a global leader in equipment design and technology for the lead-acid battery market. Since John Wirtz started in 1932 through today, the fourth generation of the Wirtz family continues managing the company focused on high quality products, continuous improvement of existing technologies, and the development of new technologies. Wirtz has battery manufacturing operations in the United States, China, and India. More at www.wirtzusa.com.

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