Lithium-ion batteries are becoming the way of the world, but they are no panacea. Lithium battery issues range from higher costs and a messy supply chain to, depending on the chemistry, thermal runaway fire risk. An intriguing, emerging alternative for home backup from Urban Electric Power and Alchemy Industrial is the Ohm Core, a residential energy storage system based on rechargeable alkaline batteries that charge seamlessly from the grid.
Since 2012, Urban Electric Power has fine-tuned this concept, based on that same AA battery technology used throughout household devices. Alchemy will serve as the strategic development and manufacturing partner while Urban Electric Power launches and scales its innovative energy storage solution, part of a series of easy-to-assemble modular products for homes, businesses, and grid-scale installations.
“Urban Electric Power’s Ohm Core batteries boast what other batteries cannot,” said Ann Marie Augustus, VP of Operations. “We offer non-toxic energy storage that is rated for indoor use with no thermal runaway fire risk, at a cost and environmental footprint less than standard lead, lithium-ion batteries, or diesel generators.”
The Ohm Core system recharges from the grid or solar. The batteries can provide power for 1-3 days at a time, the companies say, and last upward of 10 years.
- Energy Capacity – 8.8 kWh (stackable for more capacity)
- Power Rating – 2 kW
- Dimensions – L 25″ x W 9.6″ x H 62″
- Weight – 395 lbs
- Mounting Options – Floor + Wall
- AC Voltage – 120/240 V
- Operating Temp – -20°C to 60°C
Alkaline batteries are also more recyclable than lithium, and this tech has been proven to scale for larger uses in data centers and infrastructure projects.
The batteries are assembled in Pearl River, New York. Alchemy Industrial is a Houston-based contract manufacturing company will be packaging the inverter and battery containment unit, which will help bring Urban Electric Power’s new battery technology to more homes on a quicker timeline.
Beta units are expected to be available in Q3 of this year, and those first beta units feature batteries that that cost about $150/kWh at 2 kW/ 8.8 kWh per unit. After adding in the inverter, containment, app integration and so on, the final cost is likely in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. And remember, solar is not necessary if a customer just wants the battery backup.
“This relationship also represents Alchemy’s commitment to bringing advanced manufacturing to Houston, and to help the city become a leader in energy storage system manufacturing and energy transition,” said Mush Khan, CEO of Alchemy Industrial.
We hear there will be a 10 year limited warranty down to 70% capacity retention. In addition, unlike a solution like the Tesla Powerwall, modules can be augmented. So, a customer could swap modules throughout the lifetime to extend the capacity while maintaining the original investment on the power electronics. This is part of the design work Alchemy Industrial brought to the table.
“As we phase out fossil fuels and add distributed renewables, demand will only grow for replacing old battery technology with cost-effective energy storage that is safer, longer-lasting, and more environmentally friendly,” said Augustus.