Sodium-ion batteries manufacturer Aquion Energy is back in operation – under new ownership and with a new name – after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.
Aquion, now known as AEI Winddown, has been acquired in a bankruptcy auction by “a majority-American joint venture” for what Bloomberg said was $9.16 million.
Aquion founder Dr Jay Whitacre (pictured) told the technical journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the JV behind the deal was Juline-Titans LLC – which is reportedly linked to Chinese investment holding company China Titans Energy Technology Group.
Whitacre told MIT Aquion’s new owner “brings along financial strength, manufacturing expertise, and direct connections to big energy operations in China, addressing crucial challenges Aquion faced trying to go it alone”.
Whitacre added: “The new backers intend to invest tens of millions more 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.”
According to Whitacre, AEI will focus on supplying batteries to “small grid operators and renewable projects, mainly in developing countries”.
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”.
Pearson said despite the company’s efforts it had been “unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern”.