Professor Thomas Maschmeyer sat on his verandah with colleagues planning how they could revolutionise battery technology that had been around for 140 years to make it cheaper and more effective than other options on the market. Little did they know their idea would be worth millions of dollars six years later.
Gelion, a British-Australian battery tech company initially formed by Professor Maschmeyer at the University of Sydney, is preparing to ramp up production of their zinc-bromide Endure batteries. The creators say these will help decarbonise the electricity market and slash the cost of storing surplus renewable energy.
One of the zinc-bromide batteries’ major drawcards is their inability to catch fire and their suitability for harsher climates. This makes them ideal for bringing power to regional communities.
In a huge leap, the company, which now has partners overseas and employs 30 people, is expected to launch an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market on November 30. Gileon’s market value will be $285 million with a share price of 145p.
While batteries using a zinc-bromide combination were patented in 1889, it has taken innovative chemistry to develop the materials into a gel that is safer, longer-lasting and potentially much cheaper than existing alternatives, such as lithium-ion storage.
“[The Australian government] has a role to play supporting the new economy, supporting renewable energy at low power prices, supporting jobs and paying dividends in investment in the public sector – it’s not a black hole,” Professor Maschmeyer said. “It helps to show that Australian tech is here to stay and is competitive on the world scale.”
Funds raised will be used to develop the Endure battery for stationary renewable energy storage, and back further research into Professor Maschmeyer’s latest project, which aims to make lithium batteries safer, more energy dense and more useful to the electric vehicle and electric aviation sectors.
The announcement marks the first time a University of Sydney spin-out company has been listed on any stock exchange. The company hopes to break even on an earnings basis by the 2024 financial year.