Aquion Energy set to start large-scale production of batteries
By Renatta Signorini
Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A Pittsburgh company that invented a unique battery is changing the way we store energy.
With a plant slated to open in Westmoreland County this year, Aquion Energy is preparing for large-scale production of its batteries that use saltwater instead of lithium to conduct electricity.
This makes them safe, long-lasting and environmentally friendly.
“It's pretty exciting to see something go from literally nothing to something like this in a handful of years,” said Jay Whitacre, founder and chief technology officer. “I don't think we can officially call ourselves a start-up anymore.”
Aquion Energy selected Westmoreland County in early 2012 as the site for its first mass manufacturing plant. Production is expected to begin in the second half of this year.
The East Huntingdon space once occupied by Sony will permit Aquion to expand. Its headquarters will remain in Lawrenceville.
“To make the products, you need a large-scale facility,” said CEO Scott Pearson.
In 2011, Pennsylvania provided $10 million from its Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to convert the vacant Sony plant into a multi-tenant facility.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Tyler Courtney said Aquion's decision to locate there shows the transformed plant can attract small, local companies.
“It's great to have a company like Aquion coming. That proves that that method can work,” he said.
Aquion's cinder block-sized batteries are less toxic because they are saltwater-based. The batteries can become stationary energy storage systems for electricity generated by renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar.
In the past few years Aquion's workforce has quadrupled, and the company expanded in Lawrenceville. There, it developed and tested batteries to show potential clients that the product works, Whitacre said.
“The whole goal of this place was to prove we had something that was real,” he said.
Now, it is starting a “really aggressive execution phase” and hiring hundreds of people.
“It's absolutely necessary. It's the next step,” Whitacre said.
Whitacre started the research project in 2007 with Carnegie Mellon University's assistance. After promising results, he applied for a patent and founded 44 Tech Inc. with two others.
Renamed Aquion Energy in January 2010, the company moved to the Lawrenceville space. Investors, grants and loans have paid for the venture.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wages have soared in Pittsburgh, but economy appears to have stalled
- Programs help to nudge unemployment among veterans downward
- Emboldened by Italy move, QVC to expand into France
- Secret Service close to understanding Target data breach
- Consol Energy transitions as leadership changes hands
- Facebook feature lets users locate nearby pals
- PPG shareholders vote against proposals; sales, profit see double-digit increases
- Former BP employee settles insider-trading charges
- Target expands subscription service tenfold
- Applications for jobless aid edge up
- Wal-Mart rolls out money transfer service