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Analyst: Who's who in nanotech batteries

August 9, 2010 - Business execution, and not so much technological differentiation, separates the pack among firms developing nanotechnology-enabled batteries, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Promise and potential for energy storage has attracted a number of firms, many of which are basing their work on nanomaterials such as lithium titanate and lithium iron phosphate nanoparticles with battery electrodes. But there is "little technological differentiation between firms targeting this segment," says Jurron Bradley, senior analyst with Lux Research, in a new report.

A123 Systems, for example, isn't the only one who makes nanostructured lithium iron phosphate battery electrodes (target market: automotive), but it shines due to what he calls "solid business execution" -- it was the only nanotech company to go public in 2009, and one of the year's most successful IPOs in any tech category.

Others in the mix for the nanotech battery sector (see Bradley's quadrated grid, below):

- Electrovaya. The company scored highest in "technical value" according to Bradley's criteria, developing nanostructured polymer electrolytes for several types of battery cathodes. It also has a "relatively strong" revenue to employee calculation of >$41,000, as well as "a strong partnership list" that includes Tata Motors.

- K2 Energy Solutions. Bradley puts K2 in the "long shot" category. Despite recent development deals (e.g. a $30M Chinese JV and an undisclosed deal for scooters/bikes/etc.), this company has yet to land a significant partner in the "lucrative" automotive market, he points out.

- Altair Nanotechnologies. This company's star has lost some luster -- it's 1Q cash burn rate was 5× its 2009 annual revenues, and its stock price hasn't sniffed the Nasdaq-required $1 mark since late 2009 (it's currently languishing around $0.40). At this point, Bradley says, one could also call ALTI another "long shot."

The full listings and summaries can be found in Lux Research's new report: The governing green giants: Makers of cleantech nanointermediates on the Lux Innovation Grid.

Nano-enabled battery/electric vehicle applications. (Source: Lux Research Inc.)



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