Gridtential, an energy storage startup developing lead-acid battery technology, just won a vote of confidence in the form of $6 million from lead-acid industry giants and strategic investors including East Penn Manufacturing and Crown Battery Manufacturing (a supplier of deep-cycle batteries since 1926). Leoch International, a large lead-acid battery exporter in China, and Power-Sonic, a global battery distributor, also invested.
Gridtential replaces the lead grid inside a traditional lead battery with a plated silicon wafer similar to a solar cell.
Kevin Smith, East Penn’s VP of technology, told GTM that Gridtential has made "remarkable strides" in demonstrating advancements from the traditional lead-battery design. East Penn is a 70-year-old, privately held, "very vertically integrated" lead-acid battery builder headquartered in the town of Lyon Station, Pennsylvania (population: 350). Smith said that the company's decision to make a venture investment in a startup was "an anomaly," but added that Gridtential had the potential to prolong the leadership of lead-acid technology and disrupt some portions of the market.
Smith also pointed out that while Tesla touts its Gigafactory, the lead-acid industry and East Penn have already reached that type of volume and scale -- the East Penn facility will build 40 million batteries for automotive, telecom and other motive applications. The company claims, in a release, that the lead-acid global manufacturing base is "70 times the size of Tesla’s Gigafactory efforts."
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