Aquion Energy’s Saltwater Batteries
As alternative energy sources such as wind and solar become more widely adopted, the problem of energy storage has become a hot topic since the power being provided is intermittent as is the energy being consumed. Typically, wind and solar farms are backed up by natural gas plants that can provide a level of stability in the energy output. This has created the need for a grid battery that can store many hours’ worth of energy from solar and wind power at a very low cost. According to an article by the MIT Technology Review, 99 percent of grid storage takes the form of “pumped hydro” in which water is pumped uphill to a reservoir and released to turn a generator when energy is needed. This method provides less than 1 percent of the power capacity in the United States on any given day. One startup looking to address this problem is Aquion Energy.
Founded in 2008, Pittsburgh based Aquion Energy is a Carnegie Mellon University startup which has secured $65 million in private capital from the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Bill Gates, and grants from the US Department of Energy. Bright Capital, a fast-growing Russian venture capital firm led the latest round of funding for Aquion and has big plans for Aquion’s entry into Eastern Europe. Aquion is producing a revolutionary battery based on novel ambient-temperature sodium-ion technology with commercial manufacturing to begin this year with the Company bringing online a 350,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania.
The makeup of Aquion’s battery technology is ultra low cost using only base oxide, carbon, cotton, and saltwater. The smallest battery configuration offered is the S10 battery stack seen below:
The S10 battery stack is made up of 7 B10 batteries, each of which can undergo greater than 3,000 cycles, operate at temperatures of -4 to 40 degrees Celsius, and self-discharge at less than 2% per month. These batteries are unique in that they do not need to be immediately charged once they have been discharged and because they are non-toxic, non-corrosive, and contain no heavy metals, can be disposed of as ordinary trash. The extremely long cycle life, deep depth of discharge and extensive fault tolerance make these batteries an ideal choice for stationary, deep cycle, long-duration applications such as energy storage for wind and solar farms.
Last month Aquion announced that Siemens purchased a shipment of its grid batteries and it will be testing those batteries with Siemen’s power inverter technology. The idea is that if Siemens deems the batteries to work as advertised, they may eventually bundle the batteries with their power grid infrastructure and sell it to customers like solar farm developers. With strong backing and interest shown from the likes of Siemens, Aquion is a company to watch going forward.
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