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New battery technologies getting venture investors charged up

As more and more vehicles become electrified, the need for new energy storage solutions will continue to grow. And with the energy revolution adding larger amounts of renewable energy to the electrical grid, it doubles the need for reliable, cost effective energy storage batteries.

According to data from cleantech investment and advisory services firm Mercom Capital, battery companies have raised $480 million in the first half of 2017. the major portion of that capital was raised by Texas-based Microvast Power Systems (MPS), a subsidiary of HUZHOU, China-based Microvast.

Microvast Power Systems of Stafford, Texas
In April this year, MPS received $400 million in a funding round led by CITIC Securities. Additional investors included CDH Investment, National Venture Capital, and others. MPS is a developer and manufacturer of advanced Electric Vehicle Power System solutions, based on the company’s innovative fast charging, long-life, and non-flammable Lithium-ion battery systems.

There are 110 12-meter all-electric buses equipped with Microvast fast charge batteries “ready to ...

There are 110 12-meter all-electric buses equipped with Microvast fast charge batteries “ready to go” in Lianyungang, China. Three “fast” combined: “Fast Traffic Track + fast charge + fast charging stations.
Microvast / media

“The ‘fast charging’ approach is becoming an industry trend,” said the director of this investment from CITIC Securities, according to Techcrunch. “Microvast is committed to a high level of investment in R&D to maintain its advantage in advanced battery technologies. The company is also accelerating the commercialization of those technologies, which makes us very confident in its potential.”

Microvast was founded in 2006 with the primary business goal of addressing current constraints in electric vehicle development and redesigning power systems to drive mass adoption of electric vehicles. The company already lays claim to  15,000 hybrid and fully electric buses with battery systems, operating in more than 140 cities across six countries with over one billion kilometers (621.4 billion miles).

Gridtential Energy, Inc’s Silicon Joule battery 
Santa Clara, California-based Gridtential Energy, Inc. has come up with a new design for lead-acid batteries. that integrates silicon into traditional lead chemistry, Gridtential’s Silicon Joule Technology. The company has developed a smaller, more energy- dense lead acid battery for use in hybrid vehicles, capable of storing energy from the power grid and creating backup power supplies.

In the Silicon Joule battery  silicon wafers are used as current collectors. These wafers replace th...

In the Silicon Joule battery, silicon wafers are used as current collectors. These wafers replace the lead grids used in traditional lead-acid monoblocs.

“What’s unique about the battery is two things. One is the use of silicon. It’s built as a stack of cells in series rather than a group of cells in parallel. The silicon plates are used as current collectors — they are really very thin pieces of wire that connect one cell to the next,” explains chief executive Chris Beekhuis. “It creates a density of current and uniform temperature across the plate, both of which prevent sulfation.”

Founded in 2010, the company focuses on developing Silicon Joule battery technology for personal mobility applications, such as wheelchairs, e-bikes, scooters, etc.; portable power equipment; and stationary backup solutions, which include uninterruptible power supplies, cell towers, and more.

Romeo Power is focusing on power management
Only one-year-old, the Los Angeles, California-based battery company, Romeo Power is focusing on novel technologies for lithium ion battery packs and not the chemistry itself.

Romeo co-founder Mike Patterson told Techcrunch, “The [battery] cells are a commodity, it’s true. But of the hundreds of cells [available to buy], you have to know which is the best for a particular application. Then you have to get as many cells as you can into the smallest space possible, to create volumetric density. Then,” he says, “to keep the cells from getting too hot, you need to put them in the right container and connect them using the right materials and methods.”

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Chris McGuire  from Philadelphia  tests the battery of an electric fo...

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Chris McGuire, from Philadelphia, tests the battery of an electric forklift during routine maintenance in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Kevin Murphy

In July this year, Romeo Power introduced the THUNDER PACK-C, the first lithium-ion battery pack designed to be adapted for any electric forklift make or model. The new Thunder Pack-C is not only safer, but non-toxic and far more energy efficient with significantly longer cycle life than lead acid batteries that still dominate the global forklift market.

The company claims that with a variety of talent, materials, and techniques, they have been able to achieve, at a minimum, 25 percent more energy density, and occasionally upwards of 200 percent more energy density. The company also has some well-seasoned veterans of the tech industry, including ex-employees of SpaceX, Samsung, Tesla, and Amazon.

Romeo is also fueled by capital, to the tune of $30 million in seed funding, all of it from the management team, unnamed family offices, and past shareholders who’ve invested in Patterson’s other startups. When asked about venture capitalists, and why he hadn’t used them, Patterson says, “I’m not saying we won’t raise venture in the future, but not now.”

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