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Better Lead Acid Batteries Built with Hard Drive Tech

Gridtential's high capacity lead acid battery
Gridtential’s high capacity lead acid battery

Over the past three years, Gridtential has been slowly developing a better lead acid battery by using chip and hard-disk drive manufacturing processes.

Gridtential used a grant from the California Energy Commission to demonstrate that its lead acid battery is far better than standard lead acid batteries. The company’s  batteries have two times the energy density and cost between 50% and 90% less when used in a battery bank.

Basically, Gridtential’s technology is replacing the thick active plating of the lead with one that’s deposited using techniques borrowed from the IT industry, namely that which makes hard drives and computer chips. These lead plating techniques are by far superior to the old ones, where the active layer can detach from the lead and compromise the battery.

High performance lead acid batteries are currently used in golf carts, wheelchairs, and even forklifts. Gridtential’s CEO, Christian Beekhuis, intends to start with this market.

Ultimately, the startup wants to sell its batteries to power grid operators for applications such as storage for a solar panel system.

This success inspired that the Berkeley investment company Roda Group to provide money for a seed round so that Gridtential can move closer to commercialization. The company will use this money to build, install, and test alpha units of its batteries under real word conditions.

When its batteries are deployed commercially, Gridtential will work with IT manufacturers on production. Scaling up the technology will be less expensive than dealing with its own machines. For this purpose, the company has been working with Intevac, a major supplier of hard disk drive surfaces in order to produce battery plates.

Gridtential does not expect commercial deployments until 2016.

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About the author

Leigh is a Senior Technical Communicator working in the energy sector in Dallas, Texas. Prior to her work in the energy industry, Leigh spent years specializing in life saving engineering projects for the US Department of Defense. In her spare time, Leigh pursues her passions of environmental awareness, vegan baking, dog rescue, and defending the place of art, literature, and music in a world that values science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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