What happens when you mix saltwater, cotton, dirt and carbon? Pittsburgh's fast-growing Aquion Energy
has performed that alchemy to create its Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) batteries, a new way of storing energy. With $35 million in venture capital (from investors including Bill Gates), the young company is gearing up to start manufacturing later this year.
Aquion's technology addresses what CEO Scott Pearson calls the "fundamental mismatch" between energy generation and storage. Think of a simple solar system: daytime sunshine generates power, which must be stored for delivery at night. Aquion's AHI batteries can be configured to do just that for an array of applications, everything from a single, solar-powered house to large utility grids. And the batteries, Aquion says, are safe, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
The company rented 300,000 square feet in the former Sony plant in Mt. Pleasant and expects to start building its first AHI batteries at the plant at the end of the year, with full production and commercial launch in 2014.
Pearson wouldn't discuss hiring plans, but did say that the company current employs more than 100 and that, eventually, it expects to hit 1,000.
The company was established in 2008 at Carnegie Mellon when Dr. Jay Whitacre produced the first functioning AHI battery with long-term-cycle stability. The following year, the company outgrew the CMU labs and located to the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, where it is still headquartered.
Source: Scott Pearson, Aquion Energy
Writer: Elise Vider