Nuveen, the global investment subsidiary that manages $1 trillion in assets for its owner, U.S. mega-pension TIAA, announced on Wednesday that it is the lead investor in a Series B growth equity round for Advanced Battery Concepts (ABC), a U.S.-based developer of technology for bipolar lead-acid batteries.
While Nuveen has devoted more than $1 billion in private market impact investing over the past decade, this week’s ABC Series B round marked the first investment of Nuveen’s Global Impact Fund. The private equity fund was established earlier this year to make direct investments in global, high-growth companies that are working to address climate change issues and contributing to inclusive growth.
Advanced Battery Concepts, based in the U.S. Midwest car-making hub of Michigan, is a global battery technology developer, and the first company to successfully design a bipolar lead-acid battery, called GreenSeal, along with a commercially viable manufacturing process for these unconventionally sized cells. Bipolar construction produces lead batteries that are lighter, cheaper, recyclable, last 300 percent longer per-charge, and charge in 50 percent faster time than traditional lead batteries.
ABC claims that the use of bipolar lead-acid technology in cars can conserve 20-30 gallons of gasoline just from the lighter-weight starter battery. The company currently has 29 patents issued or allowed in 10 geographies, with 28 more patents filed or pending and 30 trade secrets.
The company is also positioning GreenSeal technology as a rival to Tesla’s power wall for renewable home energy storage, noting that while Tesla’s lithium batteries are lighter in weight than ABC’s lead-acid cells, this doesn’t add any value for a battery pack that is stationary and stored in a garage.
Advanced Battery Concepts is currently working with existing lead-acid battery producers and engaging licensees to bring its technology to market, as well as on-going production of batteries and additional research from its Battery Research & Engineering Development Centre in Michigan to broaden its technology portfolio.
“If we are to tackle global sustainability challenges like climate change, we need to learn to live within our means. ABC’s technology improves the performance, cost, and resource intensity of lead-acid batteries while preserving full recyclability,” said David Haddad, Co-Head of Nuveen Private Impact Investing. “We believe high-performing lead-acid batteries will play an important role as electrification continues globally.”
“We are delighted to have gained support from a global investor like Nuveen. Its impact expertise and network will be critical for our next stage of growth, helping us build relationships in new markets and geographies,” said Dr. Edward Shaffer, Founder and CEO of Advanced Battery Concepts. “We look forward to working together to support the world’s energy storage needs.”
Battery geek-out moment
In other news from the next-gen battery venture front, the European Investment Bank last week announced a loan of EUR 47 million ($55.5 million) from its InnovFin Energy Demonstration program to Sweden’s Nilar Hydride, which produces what it calls “the world’s safest battery cell” made from nickel metal hydride to store energy from residential solar panels and provide rapid EV car charging.
Nilar’s non-flammable cells, which are less energy-intensive to produce than lithium-ion batteries, do not contain scarce materials, and do not rely on imported supply chain components from Asia, are being touted as a rival to both lithium-ion and lead acid battery technology.
The EIB loan will help Nilar to scale production of its hydride batteries in Gävle, Sweden and boost R&D to demonstrate the commercial viability of its technology.