Microgrids, which typically combine renewable energy, batteries, and conventional diesel generators to provide electricity around the clock, are bringing power to remote villages around the world that don’t have access to the conventional grid. But they’re limited by the high cost and short lifetimes of batteries. Aquion, a startup based in Pittsburgh, is developing a battery that could be just as cheap as lead-acid batteries—the cheapest available now—but last two or three times as long, greatly lowering the lifetime cost of microgrids.
Aquion is building test versions of its batteries at a small pilot-scale factory. It will start shipping these batteries—which will be essentially the same as the final version of the battery—to customers next month. Technology Review got a look inside the factory to see how the new batteries are made. (For Technology Review’s initial coverage of Aquion, and more detail about the technology, see “Battery to Take on Diesel and Natural Gas.”)
Kevin BullisMy reporting as MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for materials has taken me, among other places, to the oil-rich deserts of the Middle East and to China, where mountains are being carved away to build the looming cities.
Growing up, I lived for a time in the Philippines, where I knew people who lit their tiny homes with single lantern batteries or struggled to breathe through the dense diesel fumes of Manila, so I have a feel for the pressing need around the world for both cheap energy and clean energy.