In 2017, ZAF Energy Systems, a developer of next-generation battery technology, announced the opening of a new production facility in Joplin, Missouri. The facility is dedicated to manufacturing the company’s rechargeable nickel zinc (NiZn) batteries and created more than 100 new jobs in the region when it opened.
ZAF’s NiZn batteries have potential uses in a wide range of applications including automotive, heavy trucking, remote telecom, renewable energy, and marine. It wasn’t long after the Missouri facility opened that ZAF began seeing a return on their investment.
In early 2019, ZAF and Wirtz Manufacturing, an equipment designer and technology expert for the lead-acid battery market, announced that Wirtz had made a strategic investment in ZAF Energy Systems to expand ZAF’s manufacturing capacity from hundreds of batteries per month to thousands of batteries.
“The investment from Wirtz, a respected leader and innovator in the battery industry, offers further validation of the company’s NiZn battery technology,” said ZAF Energy Systems President and CEO Randy Moore at the time. “As ZAF continues to commercialize our technology it is vital to have a partner like Wirtz.”
The energy solutions company continued its growth in Missouri. In October 2019, ZAF was awarded a $1.4 million contract for a nickel-zinc battery system to support the U.S. Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ground facility. The project resulted in a prototype energy storage system capable of powering the silo’s systems in the event of a power outage until standby generators can be started.
Then, in August 2020, ZAF was awarded a $2.5 million contract from the Office of Naval Research to develop and produce prototype scaled-up nickel-zinc battery cells. The funding was part of a subcontract from ACI Technologies, Inc. that sought to scale up ZAF’s Group 31 batteries for potential marine applications.
“ZAF’s business plan has always been to license our nickel-zinc technology to the world’s battery manufacturers as a green alternative to other environmentally unfriendly battery chemistries,” said Moore at the time. “As we approach this licensing milestone, we will dedicate the low-rate manufacturing capacity we’ve built in Joplin, Missouri, to specialty markets such as aerospace and defense. This contract award represents a significant step in that journey.”
ZAF’s success story is common for companies operating in Missouri thanks to the state’s leadership in the energy solutions industry. Our next-generation battery manufacturers can take advantage of our location and extensive logistics infrastructure, making it simple and efficient to ship energy-related products around the world. And Missouri’s low cost of energy, combined with its competitive cost of living and doing business, positions Missouri as a prime location for manufacturers across the energy sector.