By DANIELLE IZZO
A new company is coming in hot with their energy storage technology, dependent on 900 degree Fahrenheit molten metals. Ambri has developed a battery storage system that is relatively simple, developing reliable power and displaying rechargeable capabilities.
This “hot” ticket item has caught the attention of some major, noteworthy investors including Bill Gates, Total, a French energy company, and at least three other large investors. So far, Ambri has received $50 million in investments for their research, development, and manufacturing. These investments are supplementing a grant from the Massachusetts’s Clean Energy Center awarded to the company to assist with maintaining operations and development.
The greatest appeal of co-founders Donald Sadoway and David Bradwell’s technology is its simplicity. Three liquidated layers are vacuumed sealed in storage boxes to create the electricity these battery packs are used for. Ambri’s CEO, Phil Giudice, has reported that the battery systems, created by these molten metals, are about 80 percent efficient in serving their purpose. The goal has always been to develop a battery that could store a great amount of energy while also lasting for many years. Reliability and safety were also central concerns in the research and development of this technology. With this molten technology combining two metals and salt, all in their liquid states.
Molten manufacturing was not always easy for this company. In the beginning of their operation, Ambri faced some setbacks when their battery storage packs could not handle the heat, literally. They could not find a substance that could withstand the heat while holding the battery storage unit together.
According to The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, setbacks like these are quite common for energy startups, similar to Ambri. Moving into the operational stage of the energy business caused Ambri to have to lay off several of their employees. Energy startups often encounter these practical types of problems when beginning their manufacturing business.
The good news is that since dealing with this issue, Ambri’s molten metal battery development has been heating up. After finding a substance to solve their temperature dilemma, the company has been able to bounce back since the fall of 2016.
Commercial production has not yet begun for this fairly new company, but Ambri does plan to take action over the next two years. Their molten metal batteries are not the only energy solutions that are hot on the market. There are a few other molten battery solutions being produced by companies like Solid Power, ESS, and OXIS Energy. Energy storage solutions overall are gaining popularity in the renewable energy sector and investors are taking notice. Three states have developed regulations that will electric utility companies to invest in battery storage solutions in the future. Other states will likely follow suit as these storage options gain greater traction. Additionally, Ambri’s relatively simple manufacturing process may contribute to the further success of this project. This technology is definitely something to pay attention to over the two year period that the company expects to work towards becoming more commercially involved.