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U. Mich spinout Spider9 offering dynamic control systems for grid-scale batteries and solar arrays

Spider9, a cleantech company launched in 2011 at the University of Michigan, has finalized the license agreement for patented dynamic control systems and plans to launch its first commercial integration at the historic Henry Ford Valve Plant, known as the Water Wheel Center, in Northville, Michigan.

The control systems boost the cost efficiency of grid-scale batteries and solar fields by constantly monitoring individual cells within a battery or solar installation, and making real-time adjustments in electrical architecture to optimize system performance. The control system improves the energy harvests, reliability and life of both grid scale batteries and solar fields. Spider9’s core technology was developed at the University of Michigan.

Our system fundamentally increases life, reliability and energy output for ‘grid-scale’ batteries and solar fields, allowing our customers to either improve the performance of their existing devices or downsize to smaller, less costly devices. We have technology that makes sustainable energy sources more affordable, and we thought the “Water Wheel” was a natural first place to demonstrate the technology. Our planned solar integration at the Water Wheel Center will return the facility to Henry Ford’s original vision of functioning off the grid.

—Spider9 CEO Glynne Townsend

While the Dynamic Energy technology is applicable to automotive systems as well, Townsend said, it would be a 10 - 20% cost add to the simple battery monitoring systems most battery suppliers use in their automotive packs today. Despite the benefits of longer life, more reliability and greater energy throughput, automotive unfortunately is a lowest cost game, he said. That factor, combined with a 3-5 year time to market, made the automotive segment look rather unattractive from a go-to-market strategy, he said.

The Water Wheel Center is a nationally registered historic facility that was commissioned by Henry Ford in the (year) to be an automotive valve manufacturing plant. The facility features a massive water wheel that once provided power for the facility. Ford’s vision for the water wheel center was that it would be energy self-sustaining.

The planned installation of an 85 kW solar array is expected to be completed by the Q4 of 2012.This will be the first physical implementation of the company’s control system and used as an example for customers.

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