Fluidic Energy

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Fluidic Energy
Type Private
Founded Tempe, Arizona 2007
Headquarters Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America
Key people

Lee Scott, Chairman

Chuck Ensign, CEO

Cody Friesen, Founder and President

Fluidic Energy is a for-profit corporation based in Scottsdale, Arizona that focuses on the development of energy storage solutions, based on its proprietary metal-air battery technology and integrated intelligence. The company is distributing its systems worldwide for peak shaving applications and has strong ties throughout the US, Latin America and Asia, especially in Indonesia.[1]

In a DOE produced video presented at the ARPA-e Energy Innovation Summit in March 2013, the company made public for the first time details about the technology and product capabilities, as well as market focus. The company is selling its systems as a replacement for diesel generators or lead acid batteries in markets where the electricity grid is unreliable.[2]

Funding[edit]

Fluidic has received funding from both private sources and two grants from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-e) of the United States Department of Energy. Recently, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group announced its $7 million investment into the company.[3]

Fluidic Energy has received two separate grants through the ARPA-E Office. The first ARPA-e grant of $5,133,150[4] was led by Arizona State University out of the FOA1 program and was focused on ionic-liquid-based metal-air batteries (MAIL batteries).[5] The second ARPA-e grant, of $3 million was led by Fluidic out of the GRIDS program and was focused on an Advanced Multi-functional Energy Storage (AMES) system based on Fluidic's metal-air platform.

In 2013 the firm closed a private funding round of $34.5 million, while in 2011 it raised $33.4 million.[2]

Technology[edit]

Fluidic Energy's fielded commercial products are built around a rechargeable zinc-air battery technology developed initially at Arizona State University, with continued development at the company since its founding in 2007. There are many potential cost, energy density and sustainability advantages of metal-air batteries in general, and the development of a practical and high-cycle life zinc-air battery has long been considered a significant opportunity in the energy storage space.

At a high level, the potential advantages of rechargeable metal-air batteries, and particularly zinc-air batteries, are associated directly with the use of diatomic oxygen from the atmosphere as the source of oxidant in the battery. The absence of a stored solid oxidant within the cell means that, in principle, the energy density of these cells can be quite large.[6] At the same time the absence of solid oxidant at the cathode, the use of low cost and abundant metals, such as zinc, at the anode and the absence of hermetic packaging means that fundamentally the cost of metal-air batteries can be very low.

Historically, issues related to dendrite formation at the anode and the absence of a long-life bifunctional air-cathode have limited the cycle life of zinc-air systems. Solving these two challenges has long been seen as the key to success in these systems.

As of 2014, it appears that Fluidic Energy is the only company selling commercial rechargeable zinc-air battery systems.[7] It also appears that Fluidic Energy has been selling commercial backup solutions for telecom sites in emerging regions[8] for some time, given the apparent significant number of outages covered as reported by the company on their website.[9]

Description of ARPA-e "MAIL" Program

Dendrites forming as a result of crystal deposits in an electrolyte

The development efforts within this program were focused on the use and development of ionic liquids as the electrolyte in metal-air batteries and to overcome some of the known challenges specific to Zinc-air batteries. As typically manufactured, such cells are not recharged due to dendrite buildup during the recharging cycle. This results in the cell shorts and not holding a charge when the dendrites connect the anode with the cathode.

This concept has two significant benefits:

  • Energy density - It is anticipated that this kind of cell can hold over ten times the energy density of a Lithium-ion cell, currently the leader for applications requiring rechargeable batteries.[10]
  • Reduced materials costs - Compared to lithium, which is a very reactive alkali metal and difficult to isolate as a refined metal, zinc is easy to extract and refine, and is in fact the fourth most common metal to be mined and used in the world.[11] This could drive the cost of individual cells of roughly the same size and weight to one-third third of the cost in mass production.[12]

References[edit]

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