CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Liquid Metal Battery Corporation (LMBC), a Cambridge, Massachusetts company founded in 2010 to develop new forms of electric storage batteries that work in large, grid-scale applications, announced it had secured the rights to key patent technology from MIT and had received financing from France's Total and from a personal investment by Bill Gates.
"This is an important step forward for Liquid Metal Battery Corporation," said Luis Ortiz, LMBC's President. "By securing the necessary IP infrastructure and funding from two important new-energy investors, LMBC can explore scale-up engineering and commercialization efforts."
Patents for all liquid metal battery inventions were licensed from MIT. The technologies were invented by Donald Sadoway, John Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT, and David Bradwell, whose doctoral research in the Sadoway laboratory was on liquid metal batteries. Sadoway and Bradwell, along with Dr. Luis Ortiz are founders of LMBC.
Affordable grid-level energy storage is the linchpin for massive deployment of renewable energy on the electric power grid. The approach being pursued by LMBC mixes the economies of scale in electrometallurgy with use of earth-abundant elements to achieve affordable electrical energy storage.
"A key limitation to the adoption of renewable energy sources like wind and solar is the fact that they are intermittent," said Bill Gates. "Breakthroughs in battery storage will be critical to advancing the use of renewables on a wide scale. I'm happy to be investing in this promising technology that Don and his team are working to bring to market."
The liquid metal battery received early sponsorship by the Desphpande Center, the Chesonis Family Foundation and DARPA. In the spring of 2009, Technology Review awarded liquid metal battery a position in the TR10 as one of the top 10 emerging technologies.
Later in 2009, ARPA-e chose the technology as a recipient of a grant in its first round of awards, this project alone totaling nearly $9,000,000 in funding (since its invention, the liquid metal battery has garnered approximately $12,000,000 of campus based research funds).
"Total has funded liquid metal battery research at MIT since 2009 and LMBC represents a continued commitment to this cutting-edge technology," said Philippe Boisseau, President Total Gas & Power. "As a major player in the Solar Industry, we are convinced that the development of a low-cost, long life battery will help the widespread deployment of affordable solar power."
LMBC's commercialization efforts will build upon the efforts and accomplishments of the dedicated team of researchers working on the Total and ARPA-e funded project at MIT. Liquid Metal Battery Corporation is recruiting a commercialization team to bring the liquid metal battery to its most efficient operational scale. The end product will be a cost-effective solution for bulk energy storage able to smooth out the intermittent flow of power from renewable sources like wind turbines and solar cells.
Total is one of the world's major oil and gas groups, with activities in more than 130 countries. The Group is also a first rank player in chemicals. Its 93,000 employees put their expertise to work in every part of the industry – exploration and production of oil and natural gas, refining and marketing, gas & power and trading. Total is working to keep the world supplied with energy, both today and tomorrow.
Total, alongside SunPower in which it owns 60% interest, is one of the leaders in the Solar Industry.
Total has been active in solar energy since 1983. Through its joint venture affiliates Tenesol and Photovoltech, Total has built strong expertise all along the photovoltaic solar power chain to make this technology more reliable, efficient and competitive. Tenesol is a leading French solar panel manufacturer with an industrial footprint in Toulouse (France) and Cape Town (South Africa). Total is also a large minority shareholder in US technology companies like Konarka, which develops products based on organic solar technologies, and AE Polysilicon, which specializes in a new solar polysilicon production technology.
Total's Research & Development activities are designed to continuously improve energy-related processes. Total has already 22 R&D sites worldwide and more than 250 new patent applications were issued by the Group in 2010. In Solar and biomass sectors, Total is involved in strong R&D programs, based on an international network of several partnerships with recognized academic research institutes and start-ups in order to develop new performing and competitive technology.
For more information, visit www.total.com.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-e) is a new agency within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that invests in breakthrough energy technologies that could fundamentally change the way we use, produce, and store energy. Our staff combines industry-leading scientists, engineers, and executives to identify promising solutions to the nation's most critical energy problems. To learn more, please visit www.arpa-e.energy.gov.
SOURCE Liquid Metal Battery Corporation