Nontoxic energy storage snags $30 million in funding

Aquion Energy wins venture capital investments for grid-scale storage and has plans for a U.S. factory.

Aquion's electrochemical energy storage device uses sodium-based materials so that its core is nontoxic. Carnegie Mellon

Aquion Energy, a developer of nontoxic batteries, announced today it has raised $30 million in venture capital funding.

Investors in this round of funding include Foundation Capital, TriplePoint Capital, Advanced Technology Ventures, and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.

The company previously was operating on venture funding from Kleiner, as well as a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Pittsburgh, Penn. start-up, which grew from a Carnegie Mellon University research project, has been developing grid-scale energy storage without the use of "hazardous materials, corrosive acids, or noxious fumes," according to Aquion.

Specifically, Aquion Energy has developed a method for producing sodium ion battery-packs .

"The electrochemical couple that has emerged from this process is one that combines a high capacity carbon anode with a sodium intercalation cathode capable of thousands of complete discharge cycles over extended periods of time," according to Aquion.

The batteries can withstand "at least 5,000 cycles" with no sign of capacity degradation, according to the company.

Aquion plans to begin shipping prototypes this fall to partners, with production models available starting in 2013. The company said it plans to establish a manufacturing plant in the U.S. and is looking for a location.

It's no secret why so many big names in investment would be interested in such a start-up.

Smart-grid storage is expected to take off as smart grids themselves become prevalent. The smart-grid storage industry is expected to grow to a $15.8 billion industry by 2015 , with the energy storage market in general growing to $44.4 billion by 2015, according to a recent report from Lux Research.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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