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A123

A123 founder aims to revolutionise Li-ion industry with new start-up

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 09:39 -- Paul Crompton
A123 founder aims to revolutionise Li-ion industry with new start-up

The founder of A123 is aiming to overturn the lithium-ion battery industry with the launch of his latest venture - 24M.

MIT-based scientist Yet-Ming Chiang unveiled his latest start-up with the announcement 24M has invented the ‘semisolid’ lithium-ion battery after five years of research and development.

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Johnson Matthey buys Swiss battery materials business

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 16:52 -- Laura Varriale
Clariant facility in Quebec, Canada

UK-based specialty chemicals company Johnson Matthey has taken over the battery material business of Swiss chemicals company Clariant for $75m.

Clariant supplies lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode material to the lithium-ion battery sector for automotive and non-automotive applications.

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A123 sells cathode material manufacturing assets to Johnson Matthey

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 11:13 -- Laura Varriale
A123 Systems LLC

Michigan-headquartered lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems has sold its Chinese cathode materials manufacturing facility to chemicals company Johnson Matthey.

A123 Systems retained the ownership of its intellectual property and will maintain its research and development capability of battery materials and to further develop improvements of its lithium iron phosphate (LFP) formulation.

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A123 hires former Johnson Controls executive

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 13:05 -- Laura Varriale
A123 Systems LLC

Lithium battery manufacturer A123 Systems LLC (A123) has appointed Patrick Hurley as chief technology officer.

Hurley previously worked for power management company Johnson Controls’s power solutions business unit and was the industrial contact between Johnson Controls and the US Department of Energy’s research partnership, the Joint Center for Energy Storage.

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CLNR installs li-ion batteries for smart grid project across North England

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:41 -- Laura Varriale
CLNR energy storage

Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) has deployed six energy storage devices across live electricity networks in North East England and Yorkshire.

The lithium-ion batteries, manufactured by A123 Systems, have capacities of 5MWh, 200kWh and 100kWh. The energy storage systems are integrated with other network technologies such as voltage control, real time thermal rating and customer solutions of demand response.

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NEC acquires A123 Energy Solutions

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 13:06 -- Ruth Williams

Just when you thought all the acquisitions and buyouts of A123 were old news, Japan's NEC Corporation has acquired A123 Energy Solutions from Wanxiang Group for around $100m.

The acquisition relates to the portion of former A123 Systems that supplies grid-level lithium-ion energy storage systems based on A123’s lithium iron nanophospate technology.

A123 Energy Solutions will be integrated into the NEC Group of companies and, under the working name NEC Energy Solutions, will begin operation in June 2014 under the direction of NEC. The company will continue to work in the grid-connected energy storage space with plans to also look into behind-the-meter energy storage.

 
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A123 deploys 500kW ESS for Chinese machinery maker

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 12:31 -- Ruth Williams
The 500kW 125kWh grid-connected energy storage system is for Dongfang Electric Machinery in Hangzhou, China.

A123 Energy Solutions has commissioned a 500kW 125kWh grid-connected energy storage system for Dongfang Electric Machinery in Hangzhou, China.

The lithium iron-phosphate system is housed in an existing on-site building rather than being in a stand-alone container. The system is co-located with PV and wind generation sources to integrate renewable energy resources for the machinery company.

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A123 sale complete to Chinese automaker

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The sale of A123’s automotive assets to Wanxiang Corporation has closed for US$256.6 million. An assurance has been made that Wanxiang America will continue to operate A123 as a wholly owned subsidiary, focussing upon making micro-hybrid batteries. 

Wanxiang America President Pin Ni, said:  “A123 is a company with exceptional talent and potential, Wanxiang America is committed to the long-term success and the continuance of its US operations.”

The US Department of Energy gave A123 a grant of US$249 million to build new plants in Michigan and create 3000 new jobs. Up until bankruptcy proceedings it had only spent $132 million and created 1300 jobs. This loan will only be repaid if A123 cannot fulfill the initial promises. 

Amid fears of US-taxpayer funded development going into the hands of a foreign company, federal approval for the sale had to be obtained. The defence and security contracts were sold to a small US-based pack maker called Navitas for US$2.2 million. By ensuring these contracts remained within the US reduced fears of security breaches if technology developed for US military was in the hands of a non-allied nation.

Navitas’s founder and COO Alan ElShafei said: "I don't want to say we're a savior on the government side, but that's kind of our role. There are some unique technologies we're acquiring that Wanxiang will not have access to."

The Chief Executive of A123, David Vieau, has left the company to “pursue other interests.”

 

A123 Update

Wed, 10/31/2012 - 17:02 -- Ruth Williams

A123 is in deals with Wanxiang Group Corporation for a US$50 million emergency loan to fund its bankruptcy case.

After filing for bankruptcy earlier in October, A123 was to be lent money by Johnson Controls Inc as the ‘debtor in possession’ but now the Chinese auto parts maker will replace JCI with a lower interest rate on the loan. This is the initial offer for a bidding war that is sure to gain momentum as the two firms strive to gain possession of assets from the lithium-ion battery maker.

JCI still intends to bid for A123’s automotive assets but felt the value of the company would be further damaged by a lengthy bidding war with Wanxiang Corp.

Bankruptcy for A123

Wed, 10/17/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

A123 Systems has filed for bankruptcy following a turbulent year. The Massachusetts-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer that employs 2 500 has been struggling to keep its head above water following disappointing sales of electric vehicles and a costly recall back in March 2012.

Johnson Controls Incorporated will buy the automotive business assets from A123 in a deal worth US$125 million. This will provide the finance for the company during bankruptcy. The factory in Michigan is to remain open for the time being.

This latest news puts halt to the discussions for a rescue buy-out by Wanxiang Group Corporation in August. The US$465 million deal would have meant the Chinese corporation held an 80% share in A123 and four of the nine board seats. However certain conditions, including A123's liquidity falling below operational levels, were not met so only $22.5 million of the loan amount has been funded. These complications prompted the deal with Johnson Controls. The talks had sparked political debate because A123 had received a substantial amount of public funding from the Obama administration to boost the advanced battery industry in the USA and there was unrest about the company then falling to non-American ownership.  

A123 Systems has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 16 October 2012 due to its mounting financial problems. There will be a bankruptcy auction for assets. Johnson Controls has provided A123 with US$72.5 million in debtor-in-possession financing to fund the bankruptcy case.

The Michigan-based battery maker has suffered because the EV market has failed to take off as quickly as hoped, only accounting for 3% of US car sales last year. For the first half of 2012 it reported losses of US$ 208 million, this vulnerable position led to the talks with Wanxiang Corp.

The mounting financial problems came despite a cash injection of US$249 million in the form of federal grants from the Obama administration in 2009. 

The bankruptcy will add fuel to the US presidential debate as another example of an unsuccessful ‘green’ investment by the Obama administration. Following EnerDel, A123 is the second of the 30 battery and electric drive companies that received government funding to go bankrupt. Excess of US$1.2 billion has been provided for battery makers, including A123 and Johnson Controls, over the past three years to boost the hybrid and electric vehicle market. Of the money A123 received in federal grants, US$132 million has been spent on building a factory in Michigan.

A123 has suffered losses of US$857 million since the company began and was at risk of being delisted from the stock market because of consistently low stock value.

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