WattJoule Licenses Exclusive Rights to Tennessee Energy Storage Technology

December 17, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

WattJoule Corporation has entered into an exclusive, worldwide intellectual property licensing agreement with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. This agreement allows the full commercialization of patent pending, breakthrough energy storage technology developed over the last three years and funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, under the program leadership of Dr. Imre Gyuk; the Office of Naval Research; and the National Science Foundation. The latter two funding sources have focused on various fundamental aspects of the technology. The DOE funding, in particular, has focused on more applied development which has led to significant performance improvements. "The aim of our research is to provide industry with proven, cost-effective new technology," said Dr. Gyuk, "we are setting the stage for widespread deployment of Energy Storage."

One of the major barriers preventing the widespread adoption of large-scale energy storage has been cost. WattJoule is engineering a new product platform based on the flow battery concept where electricity is stored in a liquid. WattJoule's liquid is mostly water and is inexpensive to make in large quantities. Flow battery systems today suffer from a number of limitations that have been hard to solve until several recent breakthroughs in the field. WattJoule is both licensing and developing a portfolio of critical patent-pending technology that, in combination, will dramatically lower energy storage cost to $150 per kilowatt hour in its first generation product.

"This technology allows us to practice high-power, high-efficiency operation that enables low-cost energy storage across a number of chemistries," said Greg Cipriano, VP Business Development and Founder of WattJoule. "The heart of our new redox flow battery is a greatly improved electrochemical cell, where we can produce 10 times more power, for the same volume, over commercial flow battery systems. This high-power operation significantly reduces the amount of expensive material needed and this dramatically reduces cost. It also enables greater dynamic power range, which opens up a large spectrum of applications for one product platform that no other company can provide."

"A key barrier has always been cost, which can be greatly reduced with this technology," said Dr. Matthew Mench, University of Tennessee (UT) Knoxville Professor & Condra Chair of Excellence in Mechanical Engineering, and Joint Faculty at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). "I am happy to be working with the experienced team assembled to push this technology forward to commercialization."

"We set out to bring a different perspective to improving the performance of these devices and that has paid major dividends," said Dr. Tom Zawodzinski, UT Knoxville Professor & UT-ORNL Governor's Chair in Electrical Energy Storage and Conversion Systems. "We are systematically improving all aspects of performance at the cell and material level and building a thorough understanding of the foundations of the technology at the same time."

"Our excitement about this agreement is two-fold," said Dr. H. Frank Gibbard, CEO and Founder of WattJoule. "First, we are confident that the high-power technology embodied in this license will provide a solid basis for the scale-up of novel redox flow batteries to commercial products in the near term. Secondly, we look forward to a productive, long-term collaboration with Professors Zawodzinski and Mench and their research teams. Our joint development programs, combined with the opportunity to spin-out key people and the capabilities of our existing, highly-experienced engineers, will allow us to tackle any technical problems that arise in our commercialization of redox flow batteries."