Neah Power Systems
Founded in 1999 by University of Washington alumni Leroy Ohlsen and Michael Fabian, Neah Power Systems, Inc. was a developer of innovative, long-lasting and safe power energy solutions for the military, transportation and portable electronics sectors.
Best known for its PowerChip and BuzzBar products, Neah Power Systems announced the finalisation of a capital restructure plan and rebranded itself as XNRGI in February 2020.
Headquartered in Bothell, Washington, Neah Power Systems was created to develop a cutting-edge and more energy-efficient power source to supersede the lithium-ion battery. Neah Power used a unique, silicon-based design for its PowerChip technology, which enables higher power densities at a lower cost.
With its flagship product, the PowerChip, Neah Power created what it claimed was the first 3D porous silicon chip-based rechargeable lithium metal battery, with six times the performance of a standard modern lithium-ion battery.
According to Neah Power, the PowerChip is the most powerful lightweight battery, being smaller, faster charging and with more range and three times the life of its competitors.
Neah Power created the PowerChip to be used in military, industrial and commercial applications, with the aim of becoming the international standard fuel cell battery in mobile energy technology.
The PowerChip can be deployed in the world’s most remote regions, as well as underwater, in the vacuum of space and even on the surface of Mars, due to its durability and the fact that it doesn’t require air to operate. Neah Power believes the PowerChip can be used as a reliable energy storage solution for:
- Electric vehicles
- Remote sensors
- Backup power
- Off-grid power
- Consumer electronics
- Medical devices
- Power tools
- Underwater submarines
- Cellphone towers
- Early warning systems for natural disasters
Protected by 36 patents and developed with investor-funded research - with sources of financing including Intel Capital, Novellus Systems, Frazier Ventures and the Office of Naval Research, among other investors - the PowerChip continues to be produced in Washington today, under the XNRGI brand.
In 2014, Neah Power turned to the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo to launch its BuzzBar line of products, in partnership with the Asante Africa Foundation.
Neah Power marketed the BuzzBar suite as ‘the only solar/fuel cell/battery/grid charging solution available on the market’. A small fuel cell that can recharge the batteries in mobile consumer devices with a USB port, such as smartphones and tablets, the BuzzBar allowed for charging from a variety of sources:
- Grid power (wall outlet)
- The BuzzBat (using AA and AAA batteries)
- The BuzzSol (solar panel)
- The BuzzCell (fuel cell)
Neah Power aimed the BuzzBar at those who frequently go ‘off-grid’ to travel, camp or work in remote locations, claiming it to be a longer-lasting solution than the lithium-ion portable chargers on the market at the time.
For every 25 BuzzBar Suites sold through Indiegogo, Neah Power donated one to the Asante Africa Foundation, a non-profit organisation that looks to provide children in rural East Africa with education, technological tools and other opportunities they may otherwise miss out on.
Neah Power’s BuzzBar can harvest the power of the sun with the BuzzSol solar panel attachment, allowing the user to charge the BuzzBar during the day, and charge their phone at night.
A single 2W BuzzSol solar panel should be able to fully charge the BuzzBar in about 8 hours of good sunlight. Extra panels were available separately, and three panels would charge the BuzzBar at about the same speed as power from the grid.
The BuzzBat used common dry cell batteries to charge the BuzzBar. A combination of batteries can be used, from just one AA or AAA to its full capacity of four AA and two AAA batteries.
As the BuzzBat will not fully charge the BuzzBar, its main use was as an emergency measure for when there are no other sources of power available.
The BuzzCell was Neah Power’s compact fuel-cell charging option that could be refilled with liquid power cartridges from the manufacturer, and, when combined with the BuzzBar, could be used over and over again for instant power on demand.
Neah Power: a potted history
1999: Neah Power Systems Inc. founded in Washington by Leroy Ohlsen and Michael Fabian.
2010: Neah Power Infinity Fuel Cells named Popular Science 2010 ‘Best of What’s New’ winner.
2014: Crowdfunding campaign launched for the BuzzBar suite.
2015: Neah Power Systems and Black-I Robotics, Inc. begin cooperating to bring PowerChip technology to the robotics market.
March 2016: Neah Power’s PowerChip adopted by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
August 2016: Neah Power wins US Department of Energy grant for PowerChip battery.
February 2020: Neah Power Systems announces the finalisation of a capital restructure plan and rebrands itself as XNRGI, expanding its business model to focus on more mainstream, business-to-business battery storage products.
March 2020: XNRGI opens a lithium-ion battery factory in India, with the capacity to produce 240 MWh of high-temperature battery storage solutions annually.