Nickel-hydrogen battery storage boost

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California storage start-up EnerVenue has raised $100 million to advance the development and production of its nickel-hydrogen battery technology.

The Series A funding round led by Schlumberger New Energy and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures is intended to accelerate R&D activities and to build a gigafactory for battery production in the US.

The agreement with Schlumberger also will see the technology taken to market in Europe and the Middle East, among other locations.

Jorg Heinemann, CEO of EnerVenue, says that with its durability, flexibility, reliability and safety, the company is delivering a “unique and future-proof solution” for grid-scale energy storage.

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“We have proven the advantages that our next-generation nickel-hydrogen battery delivers and are excited to accelerate our journey forward with Series A backing and our agreement with Schlumberger.”

Nickel-hydrogen technology is not new and emerged over fifty years ago for satellite applications. Subsequently, it has undergone development by NASA and has been widely used in space applications, including the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station.

Notably, the batteries on the Hubble telescope had a design life of seven years but were still operating, albeit with some loss of capacity due to ageing, when they were replaced more than 18 years into the mission.

This longevity was attributed in part to the manufacture but also to the management with close monitoring of the current flow into the batteries and their temperatures during the charging cycles.

The nickel-hydrogen batteries are comprised of a nickel hydroxide cathode and hydrogen anode.

Features include a high level of durability with operation across a wide range from -40°C to 60°C ambient temperatures, projected 30,000+ cycling capability and a broad range of fast and slow charge capabilities.

The technology also is based on low-cost materials and does not present a fire or thermal runaway hazard.

EnerVenue state that the batteries are applicable for use cases from grid-scale down to residential storage and for example, for electric vehicle charging stations, particularly in remote locations to ensure round the clock availability for users.

Previously, EnerVenue sealed a deal to supply its storage systems to the Hong Kong public utility Towngas, which also will distribute the technology in Hong Kong and China.