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Developer of PbC Batteries Lands $6.4M Manufacturing Flooded Lead-Acid Battery Contract to Jump Start Revenue

Indexed values comparing different energy storage options. Axion says that the PbC technology strikes a balance between price, energy and power. Click to enlarge.

Axion Power International, Inc., the developer of PbC batteries—multi-celled asymmetrically supercapacitive lead-acid-carbon hybrid batteries (earlier post)—has received a purchase order for 92,250 flooded lead-acid batteries that it will produce over the next 11 months under a toll-manufacturing contract with a major North American battery manufacturer.

Axion’s primary business focus is developing new manufacturing processes for energy storage devices based on its proprietary PbC technology, which promises to deliver more advanced battery performance at a price that approaches lead-acid. The PbC is a hybrid device that uses the standard lead acid battery positive electrode and a supercapacitor negative electrode that is made of activated carbon. However, the company notes, bringing currently mothballed flooded battery lines to production will not interfere with Axion’s PbC activities and should give rise to significant economies of scale and training opportunities for new hires.

The purchase order is the first phase of a relationship that could expand to 50,000 units per month by mid-2009. The product will be manufactured on previously mothballed assembly lines in Axion’s New Castle plant. Axion will begin work and will ship product this month. This Phase 1 purchase order segment will generate $6.4 million in revenue over the next year.

The original New Castle battery manufacturing equipment that Axion bought in 2006 was configured into two flooded battery lines, and a third line for sealed absorbent glass matt (AGM) batteries. The plant has always had a total permitted capacity of 3,000 batteries per day and Axion has the potential to apply for a permitted increase to 5,000 per day.

Over the last three years, Axion made all of its PbC battery prototypes and specialty racecar and collector car batteries on the AGM line. The flooded battery lines remained in place but unused. When the opportunities for toll contract manufacturing first arose in 2007, Axion began to slowly rehab the flooded production lines, and in some cases upgraded and replaced existing equipment with battery manufacturing equipment obtained at auctions for a fraction of its real value. This process continued into the first 9 months of 2008.

Axion’s CEO Thomas Granville said the new purchase order will help put under-utilized sections of the New Castle plant into production and provide an important source of new revenues to finance ongoing R&D and future growth. The order, along with anticipated follow on orders over the next several months, also serves to complete the terms of the final Quercus Trust investment made in June of 2008.



I'm not sure this is a wonderful idea because the balance of U-cap capacity may not match the storage capacity for all applications. How could it? What's the U-cap used for? Just to buffer the battery?

John Petersen

The carbon electrode (a) eliminates grid sulfation extending cycle-life by a factor of at least 4x, (b) ramps up available power, and (c) gives the device an incredible ability to accept high charge rates (e.g. regenerative braking and very short recharge times).


Surprise surprise. There is increase in storage capacity kWh/kg in comparison with lead-acid. Earlier claimed that will be 50% gain.


The chart in this article makes battery selection much clearer. How can Axion Power tout the Pbc battery as a good choice for motive power when its energy density is less than lead acid? From what I have read it would take almost 1000 lbs of lead acid batteries to push an economy car 80 miles. Gives the nickname for old luxury cars "lead sleds" new meaning. Because of its long cycle life however, this battery sounds like the perfect solution for home solar or wind installations.


In terms of EV conversions I'm guessing less money per cycle and greater instantaneous power would be the selling points. Although they'll be hard presses to top the lithium iron stuff I've been seeing, provided the manufacturer's specs are correct of course.

Henry Gibson

Lead batteries are perfectly useable in plug in hybrid cars. Ron Gremban used them for some months in a Prius. If he used his newer technology where the original battery is also used he could get even many more months of service out of them. EFFPOWER makes very high power lead acid batteries for hybrid cars. Battery cost and drive and motor cost are the main reasons why there are few electric cars on the market. TH!NK is leasing batteries to make their cars more affordable. Mass production is the main lack of electric cars.

This article implies that the company has not found the high tech batteries to be sufficiently profitable so it is making low tech ones under contract. ..HG..


PbC batteries are ideal in combination with an electric motor and electric generator. First, the generator converts (efficiently) fuel to electricity, which is stored in the PbC batteries. Then the PbC batteries can feed (efficiently) the electric car motor. Not many batteries are required, because the batteries are used as buffer only.

It is not a good battery for an electric car without generator.


Energy Density is too low and weight to high for use in cars. Weight is a significant factor in mpg. Could still be useful for UPS and off grid energy storage applications where cost per cycle is important but weight is not.
Manufacture was claiming 1,600 cycles before. Looks like a little less here. The Li Ion cycles shown is totally salesmanship. At least a half dozen companies have Li Ion batteries with over 3,000 cycle life.
This is still good news for lowering cost of intermittent energy storage. Their scale up approach is really impressive. Between this company and FireFly you can pretty much kiss those old Pb-acid batteries good bye.


Last December Bob Nelson left his position as Manager of Engineering at Firefly Energy to become the Manger of Manufacturing Engineering at Axion. It’s seems very strange, Firefly’s graphite foam and Axion’s PbC electrode seem to be similar in design.


Any news about prof. Jaephil/Hanyang University Korea about his lithium battery with 8 times the energy density of current units?

Would this mean an energy density of about 800 Wh/Kg?

If so, extended range PHEVs and BEVs would become practical realities.

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