LOT Member Profile: Gridtential Energy

Founded in 2011 in Santa Clara, California

It’s safe to say that lead-acid batteries have been a part of your life for as long as you’ve been alive: they are the standard battery in most cars and other vehicles. Like most people in the developed world, you probably rely on lead-acid batteries every day without ever thinking about them.

And that’s because there’s nothing sexy, cutting-edge, or dangerous about your car battery. Invented in 1859, lead-acid batteries have not changed much in the past century. Unlike newer battery types, such as the lithium-ion batteries that likely power your phone and computer and occasionally set themselves on fire, you never hear about them. Lead-acid batteries are simply, reliably there.

LOT Network member Gridtential Energy has developed technology that could open lead-acid batteries up to a whole series of new markets and practical applications.

Making the Old New Again

While traditional lead-acid batteries are reliable, safe, and inexpensive to manufacture, they do suffer from drawbacks that limit their practical use beyond automobiles. First, they’re big and heavy. That battery in your car isn’t light; the battery in your boat will break your back. Second, if you completely drain a lead-acid battery’s power only two or three times, you’ve essentially made it useless. It will never charge properly again. And finally, lead-acid batteries charge and discharge too slowly to make them effective in higher-speed environments such as grid power storage.

Gridtential’s technology overcomes these obstacles, allowing lead-acid batteries to become a very viable option for modern storage uses.

The technology was introduced by Gridtential’s two founders: Peter Borden and Michele Klein. A traditional lead-acid battery relies on lead grids and heavy lead straps that are welded into the interior of the battery. Each lead grid is either positively or negatively charged. Gridtential’s technology – called Silicon Joule technology – replaces these lead grids with silicon wafers, each of which are both positively and negatively charged. This makes the batteries more efficient, allowing them to perform faster and for longer periods of time. It also makes them lighter. Because of this, Gridtential claims that their technology can make lead-acid batteries last up to five times longer, weigh significantly less, while doubling their discharge speed, overall energy and their lifecycle.

Starting with Solar

Gridtential has no plans to manufacture its own batteries. They will license their technology to existing battery manufacturers and firms with the capabilities to manufacture the silicon wafers, and are already in the process of beta testing their technology with some select partners.

Rather than start with car batteries, they’re currently focusing on the solar power industry. With the higher storage performance now possible through their Silicon Joule technology, they’re making silicon-lead batteries a leading option to better store solar-generated energy at the household level, giving solar-powered homeowners more control of the energy they generate every time the sun comes out.

And because they plan to use their IP to help their partners reach markets that they can’t reach today, they have decided to join LOT Network to protect not just themselves but primarily their business partners.

“We first do the technical work, and then invest in developing the supply chain and even the production tools for our partners,” said Ed Schummer, Gridtential’s Chief Licensing Officer. “Joining LOT Network is a part of that. We want our partners to feel safe with our IP, opening up silicon-lead batteries to new markets.”