Pellion Technologies

How to build a better battery – cheaper and longer lasting – is the issue of the moment in the startup world. Cambridge-based Pellion Technologies thinks that they have figured it out and thanks to a stimulus grant they are able to try.

Pellion, an MIT spin out company, was founded in 2009 with a deceptively simple premise: to develop batteries from magnesium ion instead of the current lithium ion.

According to Dr. Robert Doe, one of the founders of Pellion, magnesium provides twice as much energy as lithium, can be sourced locally and is cheaper than lithium. “Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element on the planet,” said Doe. “It has better energy density than lithium. Anywhere you have lithium battery today you can put a magnesium battery.”

The company was largely virtual, said Doe, until it won a stimulus-funded ARPA-E grant from the Department of Energy for $3.3 million. The funds enabled Pellion to hire 21 employees and focus on its research and development. Doe

Pellion Technologies lab

 anticipates that Pellion will have a working magnesium battery by October 2012.

Pellion’s magnesium batteries have many applications including cell phones, laptops and, eventually, electric cars. It also has applications for the military, most specifically in making lighter equipment, relieving soldiers of heavy loads to carry.  

And it is the stimulus grant, said Josh Nevins, Director of Development for Pellion that enabled the company to figure out how to develop this energy saving, low cost battery.

“The ARRA funds let us go from two people and an idea to 25 and growing,” he said.