|CEO Scott Pearson
CTO Jay Whitacre
|Products||Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery|
The company claimed 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.
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.
In 2011, an individual battery stack was promoted to store 1.5 kWh, a pallet-sized unit 180 kWh. The battery cannot overheat. The company expected its products to last many charge/discharge cycles, twice as long as a lead-acid battery. Costs were claimed to be about the same as with lead-acid.
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. In April 2015 they announced they have been cradle-to-cradle design certified. It was also reported they were reducing headcount.
The battery materials are non-toxic. As of early 2014, the cathode used manganese oxide and relies on intercalation reactions. The anode was a titanium phosphate (NaTi2(PO4)3). The electrolyte was <5M NaClO4. A synthetic cotton separator was reported. The electrode layers were unusually thick (>2 mm), which reduces power density. The device used Siemens power inverter technology.
The company set up manufacturing facilities at a former Sony television assembly plant in East Huntingdon, Pennsylvania initially proposing a capacity of 500 megawatt-hours per year in 2013 and 2014. In March 2014 they announced that commercial shipments of batteries would begin in mid-2014, and in May 2014 announced they had shipped 100 units.
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It’s nontoxic, low-cost, and modular, and it can’t overheat.
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- 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. ISSN 2194-4296. doi:10.1002/ente.201402127.
- 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.
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