The Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI™) Batteries are based on a simple idea: in order to meet the challenges of the world’s growing energy needs and increase the use of renewable power, we need large-scale energy storage systems that are high performance, safe, sustainable and cost-effective. Jay Whitacre set out to solve this problem and discovered a simple and elegant solution that is a twist on a 200 year-old technology: saltwater batteries. Using abundant, nontoxic materials and modern low cost manufacturing techniques, the AHI batteries are now ready to take on the global energy storage challenge. And have also won Whitacre the prestigious $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.
The rechargeable battery — made from water and inexpensive resources like sodium and carbon — stores excess energy generated by renewable sources such solar and wind systems, so that the energy can be used later when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
This kind of storage can make renewable energy more reliable and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
Whitacre is a materials scientist and professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering. He is also the founder of Aquion Energy, a startup that manufactures and commercializes eco-friendly batteries.