Pennsylvania-based Aquion Energy has secured $36.8 million in funding. This latest addition is its round E. Round D was closed in January of 2014 for $55 million. Some of its investors are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bill Gates, Bright Capital, Foundation Capital and a number of others.
Aquion has developed a sodium-ion battery technology with a price target of $250 per kilowatt-hour. The startup says its batteries have a ten-year lifespan with energy efficiency of 85%. 1.5-kilowatt-hour S10 Battery Stack units are being produced currently, as is a 18-kilowatt-hour system. Stem and Greensmith are already using some its products in pilot projects in California and Hawaii. A 14-kilowatt-hour system will be used in a DOE demonstration project to supply grid support.
Aquion is also providing batteries for testing to Siemens in Germany. “With its novel Aqueous Hybrid Ion technology, Aquion has emerged with an exciting new energy storage solution. We want to explore the Aqueous Hybrid Ion technology proposed by Aquion, validate its capabilities and potential for offering cost effective grid-scale deployments and energy efficient Microgrid and Renewables support functions,” said Dr. Razvan Panati, from Siemens Industry.
Carnegie Mellon University professor Jay Whitacre developed the battery chemistry. A carbon anode and sodium and magnesium oxide cathode with a water-based electrolyte are used. These materials are cheaper than those utilized by lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, they are non-toxic and not flammable.
Intended applications are microgrids, island grid systems, emergency backup systems, storage for peak demand support and more.
The non-toxic, non-flammable and low cost attributes of Aquion batteries might seem to lend themselves to usage as EV batteries, but they were designed for stationary energy storage. Grid storage is a fascinating concept because it seems to disrupt the economics of a closed system, meaning that utilities are investing in new technology to become more energy efficient not to be ‘green’ but because it can help their bottom lines.