This August brought the collapse of two emblematic energy storage firms.

In the U.S., lead-carbon battery maker Axion Power International filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In the U.K., grid-scale storage system developer Camborne Energy Storage went into administration.

Both firms ran aground after failing to secure cash to fund operations. Axion, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, had $6.6 million in debts and only around $47,000 in assets, according to local press reports.

The company was a veteran of the energy storage industry, having been founded in 2003. As reported in GTM back in 2009,  Axion aimed to give lithium-ion a run for its money with an advanced lead-acid battery equipped with carbon electrodes.

The electrode technology, from a Russian company that had been developing it for superconductors, was supposed to give the battery a lifespan three to four times longer than batteries using traditional lead negative electrodes.

Axion invested about $50 million in adopting it for use in batteries and secured a supply deal with big battery maker Exide Technologies. After having been listed on the over-the-counter bulletin board in 2003, in 2014 the company graduated to Nasdaq.

It struggled, though, and delisted a year and a half later after its stock spent a month trading below $1. Attempts to commercialize the technology ran into difficulties, too.

In March last year, Axion filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), warning shareholders of significant financial hardship after a dozen attempts to get the lead-carbon battery to market.


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