Aquion Energy

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

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

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.[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 bids for them began starting with a stalking horse offer of $2.8 million from an Austrian battery firm, BlueSky Energy[20]


The battery materials are non-toxic.[21] As of early 2014, the cathode used manganese oxide and relies on intercalation reactions. The anode was a titanium phosphate (NaTi2(PO4)3).[22] The electrolyte was <5M NaClO4.[23] A synthetic cotton separator was reported.[24] The electrode layers were unusually thick (>2 mm), which reduces power density. The device used Siemens power inverter technology.[25]


The company set up manufacturing facilities at a former Sony television assembly plant in East Huntingdon, Pennsylvania[26] initially proposing a capacity of 500 megawatt-hours per year in 2013 and 2014.[27] In March 2014 they announced that commercial shipments of batteries would begin in mid-2014,[28] and in May 2014 announced they had shipped 100 units.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Grid Energy Storage Management Team". Aquion Energy. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  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. ^ "Reinterpreting the Process of Innovation: Jay Whitacre at TEDxCMU 2012". TED. Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ "A new power grid battery emerges with a deal from Siemens — Tech". 
  26. ^ "Aquion chooses Sony site for battery plant". 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  27. ^ "Aquion Energy’s Disruptive Battery Tech Picks Up $35M in VC". Greentech Media. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  28. ^ Doom, Justin (2014-03-19). "Aquion to Begin Commercial Battery Shipments This Year, CEO Says". Businessweek. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  29. ^ "Aquion gearing up for battery production". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

External links[edit]