Aquion Energy home solar storage battery reviewed

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American company Aquion Energy stands out in the residential battery energy storage market, with its Aspen saltwater batteries employing Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) chemistry, as compared to other technologies such as lithium-ion and lead-acid commonly found in residential battery systems.

About Aquion Energy

Aquion Energy traces its origins back to 2007, at which time Dr Jay Whitacre, with support from Carnegie Mellon University, began researching low-cost electrochemical approaches to bulk energy storage, producing the first functioning AHI battery in 2008.

By 2009, the technology had been developed enough to spin out of Carnegie Mellon’s labs, with operations moving to Pittsburgh, where Aquion is today headquartered. Aquion began low-volume production in 2011, and has been shipping commercially since mid-2014.

“Our Aspen batteries are based on our proprietary Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) chemistry, which has a unique environmentally friendly electrochemical design, and they are the first and only batteries in the world to be Cradle to Cradle Certified,” Aquion Energy states.

“Aspen batteries contain no heavy metals or toxic chemicals and are non-flammable and non-explosive, making them the safest batteries in the world – designed for use in pristine environments, island locations, homes and businesses.”

What does Aquion Energy offer?

In addition to producing the Aspen batteries, Aquion has formed partnerships with other companies, such as Australian company Fusion Power Systems, in developing integrated energy storage products.

In 2016, Fusion and Aquion introduced the Titan SmartStorage system, which Aquion describes as “a fully integrated solar energy storage solution for residential applications in Australia”.

“The system combines clean and cost-effective Aquion Energy Aspen saltwater batteries with an Australian-made, purpose-built inverter and charge controller, designed and built to withstand Australian conditions,” Aquion Energy states. “Titan SmartStorage provides energy storage that outperforms traditional battery systems and is ideal for off-grid applications, solar self-consumption and storing solar energy for night-time use.”

What technology is used by Aquion’s Aspen batteries?

AquionAquion Energy’s Aspen home batteries are available in 48 V and 24 V models, with Aquion stating “they deliver clean energy storage that’s safe, sustainable and cost-effective”.

“AHI chemistry is composed of a saltwater electrolyte, manganese oxide cathode, carbon titanium phosphate composite anode and synthetic cotton separator,” Aquion Energy states of the technology employed by the batteries. “The battery utilises non-corrosive intercalation reactions at the anode and cathode.”

Specifications of the two models are as follows:

Aspen 48S:

  • Chemistry – AHI
  • Energy – 2.2 kWh (at a 20-hour discharge)
  • Cycle life – 3,000 cycles (to 70 per cent retained capacity)
  • Operating temperature – -5 to 40 °C ambient
  • Nominal voltage: 48 V
  • Usable depth of discharge – 100 per cent
  • Round-trip efficiency – >90 per cent

Aspen 24S:

  • Chemistry – AHI
  • Capacity – 83 Ah (at a 20-hour discharge)
  • Cycle life – 3,000 cycles (to 70 per cent retained capacity)
  • Operating temperature – -5 to 40 °C ambient
  • Nominal voltage – 24 V
  • Usable depth of discharge – 100 per cent
  • Round-trip efficiency – >90 per cent

Aquion states of its batteries’ features:

  • The deep-cycle batteries are completely sealed and do not require maintenance. They are self-balancing and therefore do not require an equalising charge or a battery management system.
  • AHI batteries have no moving parts like flow-batteries, complicated watering systems like some lead-acid batteries, and do not require active cell balancing like lithium-ion systems.
  • The aqueous electrolyte provides natural overcharge and over-discharge protection and, along with the high impedance of the system, allows AHI batteries to self-balance in string configurations.
  • AHI batteries are tolerant to daily deep-cycling, wide temperature ranges and partial state-of-charge cycling with minimal degradation.
  • In addition to the safety and sustainability advantages of using water as an electrolyte, another advantage is the thermal mass of the embodied water means that AHI products neither heat nor cool rapidly. As such, the products can operate in a very wide operating temperature window because they simply take so long to heat and to cool.
  • The AHI chemistry relies on charge/discharge mechanisms which are unaffected by partial state-of-charge – the batteries can sit indefinitely at partial, or even no state-of-charge, without irreversible capacity loss like lead-acid batteries.

Aquion Aspen battery installation

Aquion Energy describes its Aspen batteries as “modular building blocks that can be configured for a wide range of solar battery sizing needs”.

“The number of batteries you need depends on several factors,” Aquion advises. “Your installer will work with you to determine the right-sized system for your home.”

When it comes to installation, Aquion lists the following factors as being important to individual household requirements:

  • How much energy does your home need?
  • Are you grid-tied or off-grid?
  • How much power do your solar panels produce?
  • How many hours/days do you want to be able to run solely from batteries?
  • What do you want your batteries to be used for?

Aquion Energy states that its batteries are designed to be inverter and charger-agnostic, and are compatible with most of the leading inverters and charge controllers on the market, when using recommended settings. It also advises that they should be installed indoors or enclosed from the elements, with a fully sealed enclosure not recommended.

The Aspen batteries measure in at 935 x 330 x 310 mm and weigh 118 kg. The batteries come with a limited warranty of five years full plus three years prorated.

What makes up the Titan SmartStorage system?

Aquion Energy states that the Titan SmartStorage system “is ideal for off-grid applications, solar self-consumption and storing solar energy for night-time use”, with the systems modular and scalable.

“The system combines clean and cost-effective Aquion Energy Aspen saltwater batteries with an Australian-made, purpose-built inverter and charge controller, designed and built to withstand Australian conditions,” Aquion says.

In addition to the SmartStorage system, as described via the Titan website, the Titan SmartBridge provides “a cost-effective, simple solution for linking energy storage to almost any solar system”.

“SmartBridge is quick to install, beautifully designed and compatible with Aquion batteries and all major inverter brands,” it is stated via the Titan website.

SmartStorage specifications:

  • Grid-tie inverter power – 5,000 W
  • Maximum DC input voltage, MPP trackers – 600 VDC, 2
  • Output voltage – 230 VAC 50 Hz
  • Number of included batteries – 2–8 Aquion S30 Stacks
  • kWh of storage – 5 kWh to 20 kWh
  • Battery cycle life – 3,000 cycles at 100 per cent depth of discharge, 2,000 additional at reduced capacity
  • Operating temperature – -5 to 50 °C ambient (maximum of 24 hours continuous at 40 °C)
  • Warranty – eight years on full system, including enclosure, inverter, SmartBridge and batteries
  • Electronics enclosure rating – IP55
  • Communications ports – Wi-Fi, USB

Interested in purchasing an Aquion Aspen battery?

Consumers interested in buying an Aspen battery can find further information via the Aquion Energy website, while further information on the SmartStorage system can be found via the Fusion website.

The Aquion website additionally includes a map via which consumers can enter their address and search for local dealers of its batteries.

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