Salted batteries to season storage market

Altech Batteries’ (ASX: ATC) sodium-chloride solid-state batteries will provide a safer, more versatile alternative to the power grid storage market.

Lithium-ion batteries power everything from your phone, to the electric bike you are currently charging in your garage and hoping doesn’t set the house on fire.

There is a term for this phenomenon – thermal runaway, which is a chain reaction that occurs when the temperature inside a battery reaches the point that causes a chemical reaction (producing oxygen) to occur inside the battery.

The fact that they will not catch on fire is just one major advantage that Altech’s sodium-chloride solid‑state (CERENERGY®) batteries have over their energy-storing counterparts.

CERENERGY batteries also operate in a wide temperature range, from -20 degrees Celsius up to 60 degrees Celsius, compared to just 15–35 degrees Celsius for a lithium battery, which, when operating at zero degrees, will reduce typical battery capacity down to 70 per cent.

The life of lithium-ion batteries is still limited to between seven to 10 years, depending on application (as they degrade with each charge and discharge cycle).CERENERGY batteries, however, last more than 15 years, making them batteries with a much longer life.

Altech Batteries believes that CERENERGY batteries are destined to become the alternative battery for grid-battery storage of the future. CERENERGY batteries are assembled using simple ingredients – common table salt and nickel metal powder.

This is a much different recipe from lithium-ion batteries, which use a mixture of critical metals like lithium, cobalt, graphite, copper and manganese.

‘Because we don’t use these critical metals, and instead use common table salt, we are commercialising a much cheaper battery with similar capacities to lithium-ion phosphate batteries,’ Altech Batteries Managing Director Iggy Tan told Future Mining.

‘We are targeting the grid-storage market, because that is a market that is growing dramatically.’

Altech Batteries has a joint venture agreement with world-leading German Government battery institute Fraunhofer IKTS that is focused on commercialising CERENERGY batteries.

A 120-megawatt-hour production facility is to be built on Altech’s land in Saxony, Germany, from which CERENERGY battery modules will be constructed to provide grid-storage solutions to the market.

Altech also updated design of the 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which will now enable a stacking method of the one-megawatt-hour GridPacks that allows triple stacking while facilitating seamless interconnection between each GridPack.

‘We clearly now have the capability to increase our production rate, and are now in the final stages of the definitive feasibility study (DFS), where we are reviewing all cost factors,’ says Tan.

‘We are eager to complete the DFS, which we anticipate being released in a couple of months, after which we can get this project up and running.’ 

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