New Castle News

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December 2, 2011

Ultimate Battery: Axion introduces PowerCube

NEW CASTLE — While downtown has empty storefronts, some of New Castle’s area industries are establishing their products in world markets.

One is Axion Power, which has unveiled a prototype PowerCube that will provide backup electricity for utilities, regulate power flow and eventually help business and industry save money on electric bills.

The battery storage system will demonstrate the effectiveness of coupling renewable energy generation and energy storage to reduce electricity demand and peak generation needs.

The PowerCube is being integrated as a power source with the Pennsylvania/Jersey/Maryland regulation market, which serves 58,000 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia, explained Axion’s chief operating officer, Philip S. Baker.

“We are participating in the frequency regulatory market through Viridity Energy,” a curtailment service provider, he explained.

Viridity helps business and industry reduce energy bills by agreeing to cut back power use during certain daylight hours, Baker said.

“Viridity has a V-power software that is connected to our PowerCube,” Baker explained, “and acts as an intermediary between PJM and Axion.”

Viridity will manage the PowerCube — a mobile unit that houses a 500-kilowatt/250-killowatt battery energy storage system.

Working with the Philadelphia-based Viridity, Axion will participate in the regulation market as a 100-kilowatt resource that soon will be reamped to higher kilowatt levels, according to an Axion news release.

The PowerCube, which houses more than 600 lead carbon batteries, was designed by Axion staff at its Neshannock Township headquarters.

While other companies have manufactured similar stored-energy units, the PowerCube is cutting edge because it uses the patented lead carbon batteries, Baker explained.

“It operates well with a full state of charge and it will work day after day for thousands of cycles.”

The company received a $300,000 Pennsylvania Economic Development Authority grant to built the prototype, which has a total investment of about $900,000, explained Thomas Granville, Axion’s chief executive officer.

“The unique thing is that it can go on both sides of the meter. It provides opportunity for the customer and for the utilities,” he said.

Granville said Axion will market the PowerCube in areas of wind solar storage and oil rig applications, and it will provide support through backup power, frequency regulation and demand response, the latter of which it is set up for right now.

“The property nature and quality of our battery allows us to compete with the lead acid batteries. It fills a need that’s been out there for utilities and is a long-lasting product.”

Granville said the prototype will be marketed throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East with a predicted $122 billion market through 2020.

“A number of (companies) have wanted to see one that is working,” Granville said. “Now we’ve got that. We have a unit that we can literally make stand on its head.”

(Email: dmorris@ncnewsonline.com)

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