Tapping into 'Cambridge Crude'

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted June 8, 2011

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Unlike oil or gas, the beauty of human innovation is that it’s limitless.

Faced with challenges or misfortune, we’re able to problem-solve in a way no other animal can.

It’s why we’re Earth’s dominant species. It’s why we can inhabit even the harshest climates. It’s why we can soar the skies and sail the seas with steadfast safety, or talk to a friend a world away without so much as a wire connecting us…

Throughout history, new inventions and ideas have made our lives easier and helped us overcome disaster, disease, and dictators.

And throughout history, those who’ve identified which new ideas were the best have been able to drastically change their financial situation.

You don’t have to be a genius. You don’t have to be the inventor. You simply need to be in tune with the world around you and be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, investing in new technologies that will have the most impact and generate the most profits.

Battery Wheat

I think improving batteries will be one of the most profitable advancement of the 2010s.

The market for grid storage alone is expected to grow 700% by 2016, from $1 billion in annual sales to $8 billion.

Smart Grid Battery Sales 2009-2016

The entire market for batteries will hit $60 billion annually in the next few years as more mobile power is needed for everything from tablet computers to electric vehicles.

And over the past few months, I’ve chronicled some of the best technologies and companies operating in the space.

But there’s always something new when you’re dealing with billion-dollar profit implications in a technology market. The search is always on for something better, faster, and stronger.

News this week out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says a “refuelable” battery is on the horizon…Liquid Flow Battery

Not rechargeable, as in plug it in and wait; but refuelable, as in pour in a special liquid (pictured right) that contains cathodes and anodes composed of tiny particles, and you’re good to go.

That would make “filling up” an electric car the same as today’s gasoline cars. Instead of a multi-hour charge time, which is the main resistance to plug-in cars, you’d simply top-off your battery tank.

It’s a billion-dollar idea.

And a company has already been created to bring it to market.

24M has been funded with $16 million in venture capital and federal funding. 24M is a spinoff of A123 Systems (NASDAQ: A123), another MIT-incubated company. Both are the brainchild of Yet-Ming Chiang, Professor of Ceramics at MIT.

These are the kinds of ideas you want to know about and invest in early.

Another Chiang You Need to Know

You may have heard me mention another Chiang who’s making waves in the battery world.

His name is Henry Chiang, and it’s been nearly a year since he unveiled the details about how he was perfecting a new type of battery.

Since then, the type of batteries he’s working on have been used to power a solar-powered plane for a 24-hour flight. That plane is powered entirely by solar panels that store energy in this new type of battery. It could have flown perpetually, if not for the human pilot on board.

One day, entire houses and towns will be powered this way, storing renewable energy in Henry Chiang’s batteries to be used as needed. Indeed they’ve already entered that market — as well as the small electric vehicle market.

In the first quarter sales were up 51%. And they aren’t expected to slow down anytime soon…

Two separate orders totaling 500 units have already been logged since then.

Like I said, you don’t have to be the inventor to profit from revolutionary advancements like this.

You only have to know about them and be the investor.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge

Nick Hodge
Editor, Energy and Capital

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