EnerG2 Seeks to Expand Ultracapacitor Market in Japan

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 to a global scale," said Rick Luebbe, CEO of EnerG2. "We’re building a facility in Oregon designed to serve these global needs. Looking forward, we’re committed to helping the next wave of clean technology. For example, we will help clean transportation to become a reality at a global scale, 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.

EnerG2 engineers advanced nano-structured materials for energy storage breakthroughs.

We believe that efficient, reliable and cost-effective clean energy storage will be an essential element of the new energy economy.

EnerG2 approaches the problem with engineered materials solutions; and, from our perspective, it’s the materials that matter in any energy storage device. Rather than accept the limitations of naturally occurring materials, EnerG2 uses materials science to assemble cutting-edge products at the molecular level. Controlling the molecular structure and assembly process of our engineered materials at the earliest stage possible provides flexibility, lowers costs and maximizes performance. As a result, we are delivering new capabilities and creating fresh opportunities in energy storage.

EnerG2 is currently focused on customizing electrode materials to enhance energy and power density in ultracapacitors, one of the essential engines of the new energy economy. Ultracapacitors, which are dependent on the performance of their materials, 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 bursts of energy; the materials also effectively enable limitless cycle life.

Ultracapacitors containing EnerG2 materials will be increasingly embraced by the automotive industry for hybrid electric vehicles, by electronics manufacturers for enhancing the life and usability of consumer goods, and by a variety of industrial customers to deliver an ever-increasing breadth of new ways to improve energy efficiency.

In the future, EnerG2 materials may be used to improve natural gas, methane and hydrogen storage as well as lithium-ion batteries.

The patented and proprietary technology used by EnerG2 is based on nano-structured carbon materials that are finely controlled and offer ultra-high surface areas.

These materials are extremely conductive and are tremendously attractive to energy-storing molecules such as electrolytic ions, methane, natural gas and hydrogen.

The result: maximum energy storage that is exceedingly cost-effective.

Working in collaboration with the University of Washington Department of Materials Science & Engineering, EnerG2 has developed unique sol-gel processing technologies to construct its carbon materials.

Sol-gel processing, which creates optimal structure and purity in the finished carbon product, is a chemical synthesis that gels colloidal suspensions to form solids through heat and catalysts.

EnerG2 has invented a patented ability to control the hydrolysis and condensation reactions within the gelling process, allowing the materials’ surface structures and pore-size distributions to be shaped, molded and customized for a variety of critical energy storage uses.

The EnerG2 approach to energy storage material manufacturing is unique and differentiates us from the competition. Most commercially available materials for energy storage are produced from naturally occurring precursors; therefore much of the performance of these derivative materials is determined by natural physical properties of the selected precursor. As a result, important characteristics such as pore-size distribution and purity are fixed within the natural precursor and are merely exposed by competitors’ various processing approaches.

Innovation at EnerG2 is derived from molecular self-assembly; to put it simply, we build our energy storage materials from scratch, and this leads to greater structural control, improved product purity and an ability to escape today’s energy storage performance limitations.

EnerG2 has developed these processing capabilities with an explicit and aggressive focus on cost control. To avoid the expensive processing typically associated with nanotechnology, the company has leveraged large-scale commercial processing technologies from established industries to design a production approach that is both relatively inexpensive and inherently scalable.

EnerG2 focuses its efforts and attention on three core carbon material groups:

Powders in infinitely variable carbon particle sizes are used to make high-performance electrode materials for ultracapacitors.

Monoliths are the carbon materials composed of our powders in generally solid forms and are used in methane and natural gas storage systems.

Nano-Composites are created when carbon materials are mixed with chemical and metal hydrides; they are central to hydrogen storage system.

The rapidly evolving New Energy Economy will clearly depend on the emergence and adoption of cutting-edge energy technologies. However, these innovations will only take us so far unless we have readily available, truly efficient, reliable and cost-effective energy storage systems. Advanced materials will be the key driver behind storage system improvements; whether it’s holding electrostatic charge in ultracapacitors or improving natural gas safety and cost in vehicles, it is the materials that are truly driving innovation. EnerG2’ s engineered materials are tailor-made – standing on their own or in combination with other solutions – to drive energy efficiencies that will, in turn, drive our energy future.

Ultracapacitors, or electric double layer capacitors, are quickly supplanting and complementing traditional battery technology in a variety of industries. Carbon-based electrode materials are the primary determinants of ultracapacitor performance and cost. EnerG2’s engineered carbon materials can significantly enhance the power performance, energy density and overall cost of ultracapacitor-based energy storage systems.