Saltwater Battery Company Files For Bankruptcy

Categories: Extra, Energy, Tech

The battery technology and manufacturing firm Aquion Energy — well known for its Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) or Salt Water energy storage and battery systems — has filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court of the District of Delaware, according to recent reports.

The firm’s plan is apparently to use the filing to create enough time to, in an orderly way, set up the sale of its assets.  (according to clean Technica)

Previous to the filing, the company reportedly fired around 80% of its workforce (some of whom are now in consulting agreements with the firm relating to the sale of its assets), and ceased all of its manufacturing, sales, and marketing operations.

Company CEO, Scott Pearson, commented: “Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time-consuming, and very capital intensive. Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the Company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern.”

The Virginia-based consulting firm Protiviti is reportedly helping with the bankruptcy filing.

Notably, there are “several” parties that have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Aquion Energy.

Green Car Congress provides more: “In the coming weeks, Aquion will be working to secure a bidder to purchase substantially all of its operating assets. The company then intends to seek approval from the Bankruptcy Court for a competitive bidding and auction process to offer other interested bidders an opportunity to win the right to purchase the assets of the company.”

And a bit of background: “In 2007, with support from Carnegie Mellon University, Dr Jay Whitacre began researching low-cost electrochemical approaches to bulk energy storage. In 2008 he produced the first functioning Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery. Supported by VC funding, Aquion spun out of CMU in 2009. Aquion began low volume production in the summer of 2011 and broke ground on full-scale manufacturing facility in nearby Mt. Pleasant, PA in 2012. Aquion has been shipping commercially since mid-2014.”

We’ve been covering Aquion for years, and it is one of the innovative battery companies that seemed to possess the most promise (for stationary storage), but it is a tough market.  Did they try to scale too quickly?  Maybe.  In the wake of lithium battery storage - lighter, longer lasting, easy to ship, portable, does that outweigh the benefits of a truly green and safe option?  You never know who is going to buy up the goods here, and who might be able to take the tech to the next level.  There is still great promise for the tech in spite of the complications ramping up the industry, but with solar tipping it's costs to below mainstream energy pricing, there is room for the battery industry to explode over the next few years.  I can't wait to see where we go next! 

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