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Swatch banks on batteries of the future

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The Swiss Swatch group has joined the race to build the next generation of batteries. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

CEO Nick Hayek says little progress has been made in developing batteries over the past 30 years, but Swatch wants to change this. His company has been carrying out research and investing in finding better materials that are not scarce or dangerous.

Another Swiss company that has already introduced changes in battery design is Leclanché. Their Lithium-ion batteries use titanate instead of the traditional graphite, which helps battery storage systems to charge and discharge at high speed.

The systems can be used to stabilise power generated by solar panels or wind turbines, where there are weather-related energy surges, before sending it on to a grid. A system of this kind is stationed on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

The Swiss are in competition with the American luxury electric car giant Tesla, which aims to build 500,000 electric vehicles per year by 2020. Tesla has invested $5 billion in what is billed as the biggest lithium-ion battery factory in the world in the Nevada desert, in a bid to sink battery prices through mass production.