Gates Funded Aquion Energy Shows Off Next Generation Battery For Solar And Grid

Battery startup Aquion Energy has unveiled the second generation of its low-cost battery that the company’s customers can plug into solar systems and the power grid. On Tuesday at the Solar Power International conference in Las Vegas, Aquion announced that its new battery can deliver up to 40 percent more energy for customers’ needs, in the same boxy size and shape.

The seven-year-old company, based in western Pennsylvania, says it made these gains through core battery chemistry and more efficient use of the battery’s active materials. Aquion makes a battery from a combination of nontoxic materials including salt water, carbon and manganese oxide. The original technology was invented by Carnegie Mellon professor Jay Whitacre, Aquion Energy’s founder and CTO, and funded early on by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

Instead of raising money from Venture Capitalists to build out its factory, Aquion turned to family offices and international investors including Tao Invest (the fund of billionaire family the Prizkers, who also own Hyatt hotels), Hong Kong–based fund Yung’s Enterprise and Russian firm Bright Capital, as well as high-profile billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Aquion has raised over $100 million to get its batteries to market.

Aquion’s factory is the first of its kind from a startup at this scale. The energy storage market will potentially be worth tens of billions of dollars in the coming years.

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