EnerG2 Takes Energy Storage Innovation From UW Lab to Factory

3/5/13Follow @bromano

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the opportunity to apply this platform to multiple end markets. Other carbon suppliers tend to be focused on a single application, Luebbe says.

“We’re taking an R&D platform and turning it into a manufacturing capacity really we don’t see anywhere else in the world,” says co-founder and chief operating officer Chris Wheaton.

The scale-up has presented challenges Wheaton says are normal for manufacturers. But in one key respect, the process has been a positive surprise.

“You might expect to see a degradation in quality from the lab to manufacturing environment,” Wheaton says. “We’ve seen, at the very least, an equivalent performance in migrating from lab to plant. We can count on lessons learned in the lab to be true in the plant itself.”

That’s important as the company looks to its next phase of growth.

EnerG2 is moving into materials for other electrochemical storage systems that Luebbe says offer significant performance and cost improvements. Carbon anodes used in place of graphite in lithium ion batteries offer 50 percent higher capacity, faster charging rates, and longer life, Wheaton says.

Carbon is an ingredient in other battery chemistries including lithium sulfur and lithium air.

And with the North American natural gas boom, EnerG2 is again exploring this potential market.

“We get a call a week from somebody, some company, looking at absorbed natural gas systems for all kinds of different applications,” Luebbe says. “We think we have a differentiated material there that allows us to optimize specifically for storage of methane molecules.”

Absorbed natural gas (ANG) offers several advantages over compressed natural gas, Luebbe says, including safety and cost because ANG can achieve liquid-like storage densities at much lower pressure.

“We’re waiting for the industry to develop tank systems to hold carbons and integrate with vehicles,” he says, noting that Brookhaven National Laboratory demonstrated such systems a decade ago, but no one has commercialized the concept.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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