Quiet Quercus Trust's 2 Battery Plays

Our favorite stealthy private equity investor, David Gelbaum’s Quercus Trust, is involved in two investments in battery/energy storage startups, re-upping on one existing investment and joining on as new investor in the other.

The new investment comes with the disclosure that Quercus played a part in Firefly Energy’s $15 million Series C round of financing. We had reported the round last month when Khosla Ventures and Infield Capital were announced as new investors in the lead-acid battery startup. Today Quercus Trust was added as a leading investor in the round.

Firefly is a company developing cutting-edge lead-acid battery technology that was spun out of construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar in 2003. Firefly says on its web site that it has developed a battery that is powerful and light enough to give the hybrid vehicle market a significant boost

The second tidbit of news we found by looking in the first quarter report of Quercus’s existing battery investment, Axion Power. In the report, Axion said it expects an additional commitment of $10 million from Quercus Trust by the end of June. Quercus had already invested $8 million and agreed to invest the additional $10 million, but a timeline was not given.

Axion needs the funds. The company, which develops advanced lead-carbon batteries, reported a net loss of $3 million for the first quarter of 2008. (Although, that wasn’t so bad compared to a net loss of $6.5 million for the first quarter of 2007.) The company says it will use the money to install a first-generation automated electrode fabrication line.