US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin has acquired assets from flow battery energy storage firm Sun Catalytix.
Sun Catalytix, an MIT spinout startup, will become a wholly-owned subsidiary and operate under the name of Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage in the future. 25 employees along with patents and the company’s business plan will become part of Lockheed Martin. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Sun Catalytix was founded in 2008 and funded with $4m by the US Departement of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2010 and won more than $10m in funding from Polaris, Tata and others.
One of the company’s major interests was to produce flow batteries for grid-scale and commercial-scale storage after switching from its initial interest, the development of an artificial form of photosynthesis to harvest hydrogen from solar energy.
Unlike vanadium redox or other established flow batteries, Sun Catalyst’s electrolytes are made from metals combined with ligands, which are molecules that bind to metal atoms. The company says using metal-ligand compounds allows this active material to be dissolved in a near-neutral aqueous solution – rather than a strong acid – which is safe in the case of a spillage and is not corrosive to pumps and valves.
According to Sun Catalytix, its developed storage system can deliver 1MW of power for up to four to six hours using a battery roughly the size of a shipping container at a cost lower than the current long-lasting batteries used in public power grids.