EnerG2, a Seattle-based company focused on introducing advanced nano-structured materials for next-generation energy storage breakthroughs, today announced an effort designed to help broaden the ultracapacitor market in Japan.
The company’s commitment to Japan caps what has been a very productive year. Over the past 12 months, EnerG2 has raised a total of $11 million in financing from established cleantech investors – including OVP Venture Partners, Firelake Capital Management, Yaletown Venture Partners and WRF Capital. And earlier this month, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) awarded EnerG2 $21.3 million in Federal stimulus funds allocated for makers of advanced automotive batteries and energy storage technologies.
EnerG2 was one of just two venture-backed energy storage companies to receive DOE funding; the other company was A123 Systems. EnerG2 will use the DOE funds to help build a facility in the U.S. Pacific Northwest that will be the first in the world dedicated to the commercial-scale production of nano-engineered synthetic high-performance carbon electrode material. This material is the most important ingredient in ultracapacitor energy storage devices, which are used in next generation green cars.
Japanese Demand for State-of-the-Art Energy Storage
Japan is focused on energy storage solutions for the green car market, but it is also aggressively pursuing cutting-edge energy storage in the industrial sector, including forklifts, cranes, power shovels, rail and uninterruptible power supplies.
The Japanese demand for fresh approaches to energy storage follows an urgent request last year by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that more research and more science be poured into revolutionary energy storage technologies with completely new ideas and materials.
One of the reasons for the urgency surrounding energy storage is the Japanese commitment to reduce greenhouse gases. A number of Japanese companies are already doing their part. For example, Komatsu’s PC200-8 Hybrid power shovel uses ultracapacitor modules to store the energy generated by the decelerations of its rotation. Komatsu has calculated that if all the power shovels in Japan were replaced by the PC200-8 Hybrid, carbon emissions would be reduced by 370,000 tons annually.
EnerG2, which conservatively estimates that the ultracapacitor market in Japan could exceed $700 million by 2012, will travel to Japan at the end of August to visit customers and device manufacturers as well as scientists. The company is working to establish a long-term customer support presence in the country.
“The new energy economy is accelerating, and it’s clearly global in scale,” said Rick Luebbe, CEO of EnerG2. “We’re building a facility in Oregon designed to serve a global commercial network that will extend to the industrial hubs of Japan and beyond. Looking forward, we’re committed to helping the next wave of clean technology. For example, we will help clean transportation become a reality on every continent, and we’re confident that our materials will improve these vehicles’ efficiency, range and affordability.”
High-Performance Materials Will Further Expand the Definition of Energy Storage
The focus of EnerG2 and DOE on ultracapacitors shows a growing movement to expand the definition of energy storage.
Professor Youichi Hori, professor of the University of Tokyo, IEEE Fellow, head of Industry Applications of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan, and chairman of Capacitors Forum, agrees, stating: “Japan has bet on lithium ion batteries as a nation. However, that bet might be wrong. I urge them to reconsider it by seeing this movement."
A number of global players in the new energy economy are already reconsidering the future of energy storage, and they’re including a variety of technologies like ultracapacitors in their thinking. Ultracapacitors store and release more energy faster than conventional batteries. The size and make-up of the electrodes’ surface area helps ultracapacitors store and supply large amount of energy more quickly; the materials also effectively enable limitless cycle life for the device.
EnerG2’s state-of-the-art electrode can enhance energy and power density in ultracapacitors. Through a precise control of the materials’ structure, EnerG2 can customize its products to maximize performance. For example, the demand for power performance in energy storage for the automotive sector can be met with a tailored carbon electrode material from EnerG2.
In the not-too-distant future, ultracapacitors containing EnerG2 materials will be increasingly embraced by the global automotive industry for next-generation green vehicles; by electronics manufacturers around the world for enhancing the life and usability of consumer goods; and by a variety of industrial customers.