Saltwater battery firm Aquion snapped up by Chinese Titans at auction

The bankrupt saltwater battery firm Aquion Energy was bought for $9.8 million by Juline-Titans, an investment holding company affiliated to the China Titans Energy Technology Group (pictured), on June 20, according to Fox Business quoting the Dow Jones.

The Titans Group owns many companies that are all involved in the electronics and energy industry.

Battery firm BlueSky Energy, which advertises Aquion batteries on its website, had before the auction submitted a bid of $2.8 million. This pushed the price up to $3 million but was far less than the $9.8 million eventually achieved.

The sale included everything, from the intellectual rights – dozens of current and pending patents – to the manufacturing equipment and inventory.

Despite announcing a new project in February with one of Japan’s largest electric power companies, Kyushu Electric, to provide storage for solar power in Kagoshima Prefecture, just a month later Aquion was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States District of Delaware. Under Chapter 11 a company can continue trading while a restructuring or sale is put in place.

Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time consuming and very capital intensive,” said outgoing CEO Scott Pearson. “Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern.”

Founded in 2008 by Carnegie Mellon University professor Jay Whitacre, the saltwater technology was immediately hailed from the rooftops by the company, which touted the clean potential of its Aspen battery.

Microsoft chief Bill Gates joined the fanfare, along with venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development granted the firm millions of dollars in grants and loans.

BESB received no response from Aquion despite repeated requests. However, before the auction chief restructuring officer Suzanne Roski said the company had not completed its analysis of how the sale proceeds would be distributed.