Correction: BlueSky Energy has placed a stalking horse bid of $2.8 million for the assets of Aquion -- but the company has not been sold.
According to Bloomberg, "If the debtor receives at least one qualified bid from a qualified bidder other than the stalking horse purchaser prior to the bid deadline, then the debtor shall conduct an auction one business day prior to the sale hearing. The debtor has requested that the sale hearing occur on June 21, 2017."
With the help of Google Translate (and with the disclaimer that mein Deutsche ist sehr schlecht), here are some of the details.
A bid was place by Austria's BlueSky Energy for Aquion's assets.
The CEO of BlueSky, Helmut Mayer, notes that the firm has been working with Aquion's batteries "for years" and sees "a future market for electricity storage in salt water technology." The CEO noted the environmental friendliness and low maintenance requirements of the battery. Mayer claimed the battery was suited for "homes and small and medium-sized companies."
Aquion's sodium-ion battery was designed for multi-hour applications. The startup had claimed that its batteries could deliver a round-trip efficiency of 85 percent and perform 5,000 cycles.
Aquion declared bankruptcy in March after raising a total of $190 million in venture capital and debt from investors including Bill Gates, Gentry Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Bright Capital, Advanced Technology Ventures, Trinity Capital Investment and CapX Partners, Yung’s Enterprise, and Nick and Joby Pritzker.
Aquion's then-CEO Scott Pearson had this to say at the time of the bankruptcy: "Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time-consuming, and very capital-intensive. Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern."
Lithium-ion battery costs have dropped over 50 percent in the last three years, according to GTM Research. That means cost roadmaps for new battery technologies just don't hold up. And certainly not without the vast amounts of capital needed to scale like Elon Musk.
David Snydacker, a battery expert at Dosima Research, told GTM: "Aquion's size/weight per kilowatt-hour was approximately 15 times greater than lithium-ion. Like other competitors to lithium-ion, Aquion tried to emphasize that size/weight doesn't matter for grid storage. But all that extra material has an associated cost. The bankruptcy was probably foretold by the bill of materials."
Nevertheless, Aquion did deploy its batteries in a number of pilots and demonstrations. BlueSky Energy's website features some examples of the Aquion battery being deployed in residential installs. The technology lives on in a small way, but not one envisioned by its founders or investors.