Aquion Energy, A Low-Cost, Safe, and Clean Battery System


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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I want to make sure that you are all aware of this particular technology before moving on to another topic, for Aquion Energy has a saltwater electrolytes-based technology that provides a low cost and safe way to store large amounts of energy (e.g. for an electricity grid) through thousands of battery cycles and a non-HAZMAT end product. It operates safely and reliably in a wide range of temperatures and environments. It is also the only one that is cradle-to-cradle certifiedAquion Energy is a Pittsburgh-based company that manufactures sodium ion batteries and energy storage systems.

Below, is a bit of history and background about the company (from wikipedia):

The company was founded in 2008 by Professor Jay Whitacre, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and Ted Wiley, setting up research and development offices in Lawrenceville, where it produced pilot-stage batteries. The company claims to have raised funding from Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital, Bill Gates, Nick and Jobey Pritzker, Bright Capital, and Advanced Technology Ventures, among others. The company was the corporate winner in the energy category at the 2011 World Technology Awards. In 2015, the company announced that it would supply batteries for a Hawaii microgrid to serve as backup for a 176-kilowatt solar panel array. The system will store 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Below, I want to share with you a presentation by Professor Jay Whitacre at TEDxCMU2012, to have a better understanding of the make-up behind this energy storage technology ( recommended):

The ambient-temperature battery is designed for storage for wind and solar power. According to the company, it will be 85 percent efficient. The battery uses non-toxic materials. The cathode uses manganese oxide and relies on intercalation reactions. In its earlier days, Aquion used an anode made of carbon which relies mostly on pseudocapacitance to store charge resulting in a low energy-density and a tilted voltage-charge slope. Later, Aquion switched to a titanium phosphate (NaTi2(PO4)3 )  anode which is a true intercalation material with a large specific charge (Ah/kg) and a flat voltage-charge slope. In many ways, titanium phosphate is similar to iron phosphate used in A123 batteries, but with a low (anodic) electrode potential. The electrolyte disclosed in earlier patent applications was an aqueous sodium sulphate solution, in later a more soluble <5M NaClO4 has been used. A synthetic cotton separator was reported. It is worth noting that Aquion targets stationary electric energy storage markets with long runtimes (such as peak shift and renewable energy storage) which requires the use of unusually thick (>2 mm) battery electrode layers, which leads to a trade off in power density. An individual battery stack will store 1.5 kWh, a pallet-sized unit 180 and a shipping-container-size box holds 2.88 MWh. The battery cannot overheat. Aquion has yet to divulge precise functional details.

The company expects its products to last for more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles while retaining 80% of starting capacity, twice as long as lead-acid batteries but with a lower power density than other technologies. Costs are expected to be about the same as with lead-acid. In October 2013 they announced a memorandum of understanding with Siemens to adopt their power inverter technology. In October 2014 they announced the new generation of their battery that has a 40 percent increase in energy density (whilst staying the same size), a stack of the battery stores 2.4 kWh and a module (several stacks joined together) 25.5 kWh

What I’ve learned from the video above: true cost driver of Aquion battery is the separator; it’s helpful to use a prop (such as a t-shirt) at fundraising demo. Below, is another video on more details of this grid energy storage, beyond batteries, of Aquion Energy, presented at VLAB, examining the technology and economics behind this product (much worthwhile advices), starting from 17:00:

~have a bright and sunny day~
Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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