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Bill Gates invests in battery energy storage start-up Aquion Energy

Thu, 04/04/2013 - 18:36 -- Editor

Software tycoon Bill Gates has invested in US battery manufacturer Aquion Energy in his third bet on an energy storage startup since 2011.

Based in Pittsburgh and founded in 2008, Aquion Power is developing batteries that can store power for stationary applications. The batteries use saltwater, not acid or alkaline, to conduct electricity and are “environmentally benign,” according to the company’s website. The technology is based on research by a Carnegie Mellon University professor.

The company completed the first closing for a $35 million Series D financing round that included Gates as a new investor, reported Bloomberg. Aquion Energy CEO Scott Pearson declined to say how much Gates invested.

“These batteries are not flammable, they’re not explosive and they’re not corrosive,” Pearson said in a phone interview today. Aquion expects to begin commercial production in the fourth quarter at its factory east of Pittsburgh that will make batteries totaling at least 500 MWh of storage capacity a year, he said.

Gates has also invested in energy storage startups LightSail Energy and Ambri formerly Liquid Metal Battery Corporation.