Sodium-ion batteries manufacturer Aquion Energy, which recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, has declined to comment on reports that it is quitting its base in Pennsylvania and moving operations to China.
Aquion, now known as AEI Winddown, was acquired in a bankruptcy auction earlier this year by “a majority-American joint venture”, said to be linked to Chinese investment holding company China Titans Energy Technology Group.
Aquion founder Dr Jay Whitacre said in the summer that the new backers of the company would be investing “tens of millions of dollars to put the company back on track, re-establishing the supply chain and setting up manufacturing over the course of at least the next six months.”
However, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (TRIB) and Chinese media have since reported that Aquion/AEI Winddown is leaving the state. TRIB quoted the president of Pittsburgh’s Regional Industrial Development Corp., Donald Smith, as saying batteries previously produced at Aquion’s 330,000-square-foot plant in East Huntingdon are also being shipped to China.
According to TRIB, Pennsylvania had given the battery firm about $17 million in the form of loans and grants before it entered bankruptcy.
Aquion/AEI Winddown did not respond to requests for comment by BBB.
Aquion introduced its low-cost seawater electrolyte battery— the Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI)— in 2008. However, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in March this year. The move came as a surprise, after Global Cleantech handed Aquion a North American Company of the Year Award. The firm slashed its workforce by around 80% and left only a core R&D team. The company also halted all factory operations and ceased marketing and sales.
Aquion’s then CEO Scott Pearson said creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale had been “extremely complex, time-consuming and very capital intensive”.