After Hurricane Sandy, hordes of Rockland homeowners rushed out to buy generators. After a harsh spell without power, many concluded it made sense to spend between $3,000 and $10,000 to guard against the next outage.
Generators take up space, they’re noisy, they pollute. You have to keep refilling them with fuel. But the expense and inconvenience are justifiable because outages cause hardship and displacement.
But what if there is an alternative? A less expensive, nonpolluting, inside installation that can power a house without the downsides? That’s what Urban Electric Power, a Rockland-based innovator, is testing as it rolls out a small rechargeable, environmentally-friendly battery pack that can power a house through a blackout as well as store usable energy sources.
The pioneering technology for UEP’s Power Assurance System began with a research team a decade ago at City College of New York’s Energy Institute. The team discovered that by changing crystal structures, it could make non-toxic alkaline batteries, like those in remote controls, rechargeable for hundreds of uses.”
UEP, a startup entity that has been funded by federal and state monies, as well as private investment, has spent up to $20 million to date innovating clean-tech energy solutions as the national dialogue turns to the perils of climate change, and the forward-thinking initiatives proposed in the New Green Deal.
Made from earth-abundant and safe materials, zinc and manganese dioxide, these batteries can be stacked to power homes and businesses for several days during power outages and recharged hundreds of times. The batteries can be recharged from a variety of sources, including solar panels and wind turbines, and can be incorporated in micro-grids powered by renewable resources.
“This kind of clean technology is affordable because it is cheap to make and the low cost allows manufacturers to scale up.” said the company’s Gabe Cowles, VP of finance and business development.
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