Aquion Energy

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Aquion Energy
Industry Electronics
Headquarters Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania
Key people
CEO Philip Juline[1]
Founder Jay Whitacre
Products Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery

Aquion Energy is a Pittsburgh-based company that manufactured sodium ion batteries (salt water batteries) and electricity storage systems.

The company claims to provide a low-cost way to store large amounts of energy (e.g. for an electricity grid) through thousands of battery cycles, and a non-toxic end product made from widely available material inputs and which operates safely and reliably across a wide range of temperatures and operating environments.[2]


The company was founded in 2008 by Jay F. Whitacre, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and Ted Wiley. They set up research and development offices in Lawrenceville, where it produced pilot-stage batteries. Whitacre received a BA in physics from Oberlin College and a PhD in materials science from the University of Michigan. He held positions at California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, studying energy-related topics ranging from fundamental materials function to systems engineering. In 2007 he accepted a professorship at Carnegie Mellon.[3][4]

The company raised funding from Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital, Bill Gates, Nick and Jobey Pritzker, Bright Capital and Advanced Technology Ventures, among others.[5]

In 2011, an individual battery stack was promoted to store 1.5 kWh, a pallet-sized unit 180 kWh.[6] The battery cannot overheat.[7] The company expected its products to last many charge/discharge cycles,[8] twice as long as a lead-acid battery. Costs were claimed to be about the same as with lead-acid.[9][10]

In October 2014 they announced a new generation with a single stack reaching 2.4 kWh and a multi-stack module holding 25.5 kWh.[11][12]

In 2015, the company announced it would supply batteries for a Hawaii microgrid to serve as backup for a 176-kilowatt solar panel array that would store 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.[13] In April 2015 they announced they have been cradle-to-cradle design certified.[14][15] It was also reported they were reducing headcount.[16]

In September 2015, Whitacre won the Lemelson–MIT Prize.[17]

In March 2017, Aquion Energy filed for voluntary bankruptcy under Chapter 11. [18][19]

In June 2017, bidding starting with a stalking horse offer of $2.8 million from an Austrian battery firm, BlueSky Energy.[20] Juline-Titans LLC, an affiliate of the China Titans Energy Technology Group, won the bidding with an offer of $9.16 million.[21][22]

In August 2017, MIT Technology Review claimed the China Titans acquisition would mean that Aquion "will continue operating as an independent entity, with research and development probably remaining in Pittsburgh. But manufacturing may move elsewhere, potentially somewhere in China."[23]

In September 2017 Juline-Titans closed the East Huntingdon Township facility and moved production to China [24]


The battery materials are non-toxic.[25] As of early 2014, the cathode used manganese oxide and relies on intercalation reactions. The anode was a titanium phosphate (NaTi2(PO4)3).[26] The electrolyte was <5M NaClO4.[27] A synthetic cotton separator was reported.[28] The electrode layers were unusually thick (>2 mm), which reduces power density. The device used Siemens power inverter technology.[29]


The company set up manufacturing facilities at a former Sony television assembly plant in East Huntingdon, Pennsylvania[30] initially proposing a capacity of 500 megawatt-hours per year in 2013 and 2014.[31] In March 2014 they announced that commercial shipments of batteries would begin in mid-2014,[32] and in May 2014 announced they had shipped 100 units.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Saltwater battery' maker Aquion Energy back from dead under new ownership". Energy Storage News. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  2. ^ "Technology". Aquion. Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  3. ^ "Dr Jay Whitacre". The Battery Show. Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  4. ^ "Jay Whitacre - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  5. ^ "Aquion Energy Announces $35 Million Financing Round to Support Commercialization and Launch of Novel Energy Storage Systems". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  6. ^ Martin LaMonica (July 22, 2011). "Aquion Energy takes plunge into bulk grid storage". Cnet News. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  7. ^ Bogo, Jennifer; Gertz, Emily (December 2014). "Clean, Cheap Energy Storage". Popular Science. 285 (6): 026. Retrieved 26 December 2014. It’s nontoxic, low-cost, and modular, and it can’t overheat. 
  8. ^ "Aquion Technical Presentation" (PDF). Aquion Energy. Aquion Energy. 2014. Retrieved February 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ Kevin Bullis (18 February 2014). "Storing the Sun". MIT Technology review. 
  10. ^ Kevin Bullis (14 November 2014). "A Battery to Prop Up Renewable Power Hits the Market". MIT Technology review. 
  11. ^ "Aquion Energy Reveals Second-Gen AHI Battery Technology, 40% Increase In Energy". CleanTechnica. 
  12. ^ Katie Fehrenbacher (October 21, 2014). "Startup Aquion Energy shows off the next generation of its battery for solar and the grid". GigaOm. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  13. ^ Kevin Bullis (January 8, 2015). "Grid Batteries for Wind, Solar Find First Customers". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  14. ^ Hanley, Steve. "Aquion Energy Aqueous Hybrid Ion Battery Is Cradle To Cradle Certified". cleantechnica. cleantechnica. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Eco-Business. "WEnergy Global wins bid to light up bicycle track around Bangkok International Airport". Eco-Business. 
  16. ^ Coyne, Justine. "Aquion Energy cuts jobs in Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Business Times. Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Smit, Deb. "CMU's Jay Whitacre wins the Lemelson-MIT Prize for his incredible, edible (nontoxic) battery". next pittsburgh. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Hyped battery maker Aquion Energy files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy". PowerSource: Energy News. In Context. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  19. ^ James Temple (19 June 2017). "Why Bad Things Happen to Clean-Energy Startups". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 24 June 2017. 
  20. ^ "Austrian firm positions itself to buy Aquion Energy at auction for $2.8M". PowerSource: Energy News. In Context. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-06-13. 
  21. ^ "Aquion Energy assets likely to be exiting Pa. after auction". PowerSource: Energy News. In Context. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-06-26. 
  22. ^ Spector, Julian. "Saltwater's Second Wave: Aquion Has Emerged From Bankruptcy Under a New Owner". gtm. Greentech Media. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  23. ^ Temple, James. "Inside the Fall, and Rebirth, of a Bill Gates–Backed Battery Startup". MIT Technology Review. MIT. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  24. ^ "Battery company closes plant, moves operation to China". The Seattle Times. 2017-09-19. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  25. ^ "Reinterpreting the Process of Innovation: Jay Whitacre at TEDxCMU 2012". TED. Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  26. ^ Whitacre, J. F.; Shanbhag, S.; Mohamed, A.; Polonsky, A.; Carlisle, K.; Gulakowski, J.; Wu, W.; Smith, C.; Cooney, L. (2015-01-01). "A Polyionic, Large-Format Energy Storage Device Using an Aqueous Electrolyte and Thick-Format Composite NaTi2(PO4)3/Activated Carbon Negative Electrodes". Energy Technology. 3 (1): 20–31. doi:10.1002/ente.201402127. ISSN 2194-4296. 
  27. ^ Wu, Wei; Shabhag, Sneha; Chang, Jiang; Rutt, Ann; Whitacre, Jay F. (2015). "Relating Electrolyte Concentration to Performance and Stability for NaTi2(PO4)3/Na0.44MnO2 Aqueous Sodium-Ion Batteries" (PDF). Journal of The Electrochemical Society. 162 (6): A803–A808. doi:10.1149/2.0121506jes. 
  28. ^ Whitacre, J.; Shanbhag, S.; Mohamed, A.; Polonsky, A.; Carlisle, K.; Gulakowski, J.; Wu, W.; Smith, C.; Cooney, L.; Blackwood, D. (2015). "A Polyionic, Large-Format Energy Storage Device Using an Aqueous Electrolyte and Thick Format Composite NaTi2(PO4)3 / Activated Carbon Negative Electrodes". Energy Technology. 3: 20–31. 
  29. ^ "A new power grid battery emerges with a deal from Siemens — Tech". 
  30. ^ "Aquion chooses Sony site for battery plant". 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  31. ^ "Aquion Energy's Disruptive Battery Tech Picks Up $35M in VC". Greentech Media. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  32. ^ Doom, Justin (2014-03-19). "Aquion to Begin Commercial Battery Shipments This Year, CEO Says". Businessweek. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  33. ^ "Aquion gearing up for battery production". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

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