Relectrify, the battery technology startup that has gained notoriety for its cell-level battery management system (BMS)+Inverter technology, has announced the closing of a multi-million dollar round of funding from a consortium of global energy investors and energy companies.
According to Relectrify Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Zezan Tam, the company will be using the investment capital to expand the commercialisation team, particularly in key markets in the US, EU and Asia, as well as committing some funding to the continual research and development process.
Tam explained that, because of the company’s Australian roots, global expansion and entry into worldwide markets has always been a foremost consideration at Relectrify. Bolstered by the strength of the company’s technology, Tam sees this expansion towards greater commercialization as an opportunity to prove that the Relectrify’s BMS+Inverter technology is applicable in any market, with any battery system.
“Our technology is a fundamental innovation on battery control,” explained Tam. “Typically in a battery, you have a number of cells in series, and those cells are controlled as a chain, so either the system is on or off, there’s no fine control. Our innovation is that we put power electronics on each and every cell, which means that we can turn cells on and off and control them and manage them individually.”
Tam went onto explain that the finer level of control leads to longer battery lifetimes and allows for the creation of inversion, allowing the product to act as an inverter as well. According to the company, the solution results in up to 30% increased battery lifetime at 30% lower cost of electronics.
What’s more is that, because the innovation is in battery control, rather than battery chemistry, the solution is chemistry and cell agnostic, and applicable to both novel and well established battery chemistries.
Right now, Tam shares that the company’s sweet spot is with large-residential and commercial and industrial projects, ranging from 15 kWh to a few MWh in capacity.
One such project is the company’s 60 kWh second-life battery storage system, run as a pilot in collaboration with utility American Electric Power and Nissan North America. This system combines repurposed batteries from Nissan Leaf vehicles with Relectrify’s BMS+Inverter technology.
Relectrify’s utility second-life battery pilot“In this pilot, we took a set of batteries that had come out of the equivalent of 4.5 electric vehicles, no testing, no sorting, put them straight into the unit, plugged our electronics in and our electronics unlocked the full capacity,” Relectrify cofounder and CEO, Valentin Muenzel, told pv magazine.
The system has undergone 500 charge and discharge cycles into and out of the grid, the majority at over 20 kW continuous power, for a total energy throughput in excess of 25 MWh. Over the course of testing, the pilot system achieved a round-cycle efficiency averaging approximately 88% AC-to-AC, including charge and discharge conversion.
The system is trending toward an expected lifespan of 3,000 cycles, surpassing the 2,000 that the Relectrify team predicted at the onset of the pilot. Muenzel also pointed out that the 3,000 cycle estimation is still a conservative one and that the actual figure could be higher still.
While the final funding figure has not yet been publicized, the funding round was led by venture firm Energy Innovation Capital, and brought in a host of new investors; including Japan’s Energy & Environment Investment; utility Energias de Portugal; and GS Futures, the corporate venture arm of South Korean conglomerate GS Group.
The round also included all existing investors, including Clean Energy Finance Corporation, as well as energy and mobility investors Peter Los and John Clifford, who also chairs Relectrify’s board of directors.
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