|Supercharging Hybrid Batteries |
By Alexandra Berzon
November 26, 2007
An Australian agency invests in Smart Storage, which plans to mix lead-acids and
supercapacitors to make batteries that charge faster and last longer. It's the
latest sign of a growing investor appetite for green battery technologies.
Australia's national science agency would like to put renewable energy in a box.
Advertisement CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation, announced Monday it is taking steps to commercialize what it says
will be the first battery to successfully store energy from renewable sources,
such as wind and solar.
The agency said it invested an undisclosed amount in Smart Storage, a startup
that will commercialize the battery technology that CSIRO developed and already
is testing in hybrid cars.
Several weeks ago, Melbourne-based Cleantech Ventures, also said it was
investing a "significant" undisclosed sum in Smart Storage.
The technology combines a supercapacitor with a lead-acid battery to produce
batteries that investors say are quicker to charge and last longer than
conventional lead-acid batteries.
With further development, Smart Storage expects to be able to manufacture its
batteries in existing lead-acid battery plants at only a "marginal" additional
cost, said Jan Dekker, an investment principal at Cleantech Ventures, in a statement.
"Too often new technologies simply aren't price-competitive and that
significantly retards market uptake," he said.
The news follows a recent burst of interest in funding for commercializing new
battery technology, provoking renewed hope that electric cars and plug-in
hybrids might become cost-effective and logistically feasible.
In October, for example, the Israeli startup Project Better Place scored a hefty
$200 million for a scheme that envisions leasing batteries and building battery
recharge stations around the globe. And earlier that month, the Watertown,
Mass-based A123 Systems grabbed $30 million to increase production of
lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric cars in a fourth round of funding.