Eco-friendly battery could soon power homes in Cambridge

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 January 2017

Solar panels on a house roof

Solar panels on a house roof

alexsl

Award-winning clean energy capture and storage start-up company Circuitree is preparing for a full launch of an innovative device following pilots which successfully demonstrated the technology and business model.

The Cirrus battery by CircuitreeThe Cirrus battery by Circuitree

Cirrus – Circuitree’s flagship product for UK solar homeowners – is a smart energy storage system that merges ‘the internet of things’ with renewable energy and cutting-edge battery technology.

Circuitree, based in Brighton and founded in 2015, aims to give UK homes and businesses greater energy independence, being one of the first firms in the UK market to enable users to collect and store cost-effective solar or wind energy and use this energy on demand, thus reducing their reliance on the grid, cutting their carbon footprint and saving them money.

The small British start-up’s energy storage method is similar to Tesla’s Powerwall – previously featured in the Cambridge Independent – but with a key difference. Unlike Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries, Circuitree products use patented saltwater batteries, which are not only non-toxic and eco-friendly but outperform and outlast traditional battery chemistries.

These are the first and only batteries to achieve prestigious ‘cradle to cradle’ status, meaning they are environmentally benign throughout their manufacture, composition and disposal.

The Cirrus battery by CircuitreeThe Cirrus battery by Circuitree

But Cirrus is far more than just a battery. Its smart electronics act as the brain of a completely automated home energy management system which always prioritises the cheapest and cleanest source of power.

In combination with solar, Cirrus can deliver around 80 per cent of a home’s annual electricity needs – day and night.

Additionally, Circuitree’s web-connected systems enable users to monitor and control their energy remotely, from almost anywhere in the world.

Circuitree offers both grid-connected and off-grid systems to residential, commercial and agricultural properties as well as bespoke solutions for unique projects.

James Dean, director of Circuitree Energy Independence Ltd, said: “Beyond the environmental and social benefits, energy storage is set to be a huge market over the coming years. It is ethical, cleaner and profitable too, which make perfect conditions for widespread adoption.”

Now Circuitree is expanding its UK operations – Dean and his team have received inquiries from Cambridge – with the aim of helping even more homes and businesses to move closer to energy independence. To do so, it is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube and seeking to raise £100,000-£150,000.

Dr Elizabeth Castillo Martinez, a materials chemist at the University of Cambridge, said: “I think it’s a product which has really taken the environment into consideration. “It’s not got the highest energy density, but it’s a good way to store electricity.

“The most important aspect, I would say, is that all the components are friendly and the raw materials are low-cost.

“I don’t think it would give the best performance, but, put in a balance – with the performance versus the cost and the environmental aspects – it is really a very good option.”

Dr Castillo Martinez believes the Tesla Powerwall may prove to be more popular.

“It’s already a well-known brand,” she said, “but the popularity depends more on marketing, and politics probably has something to do with it too!

“I do think that if people are interested in the environmental aspects then they would prefer this battery.”

Dr Castillo Martinez finds the Cirrus “quite bulky” but said she would have one in her home.

“If I had a home where I could have my own rechargeable battery, I would definitely have it. Or if, for example, in the flat where I’m living if they were to have some type of system to capture renewable energy, why not?”

For more information about Circuitree, visit circuitree.co.uk.

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