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Altech teams up to commercialise grid storage batteries

Altech Chemicals has forged a JV partnership with German research group Fraunhofer ITKS to commercialise a large-scale energy storage alternative to lithium-ion batteries. The new technology uses table salt and nickel and the partners argue it churns out safer, longer-term power solutions without the concern of price hikes and supply chain issues associated with critical metal-infused devices.

The duo will register a new company coined “Altech Batteries GmbH” and split its ownership 75/25 in favour of the spin-out’s namesake developer.

All intellectual property generated from the work will be licenced exclusively to the JV.

The project will see the newly founded battery outfit set up and commercialise a 100 megawatt hour battery project within Altech’s land in Schwarze Pumpe, Germany. The game-changing technology will be used to produce a progressive new line of batteries known as “Cerenergy” that boast a 15-year shelf life and are capable of operating in extreme weather conditions.

Fraunhofer has spent the last 8 years developing the technology and after spending EU$35 million in research and development says it now has a higher capacity device that can be produced at a relatively low cost.

The research groups’ Cerenergy battery modules offer a 10 a kilowatt-hour power source and are designed to fit racks held in sea containers. A characteristic that permits easy deployment for grid storage solutions.

The German developer claims it had been searching long and wide for a partner with local land, access to funding and a background in battery technology – all attributes that Altech has in spades.

The duo will now develop a battery plant nearby to Altech’s battery-boosting Silumina Anodes production facility in the German state of Saxony.

The facility will churn out 10,000 battery modules per year, each one rated at 10 kilowatt-hour.

Altech and Fraunhofer expect to sell the products for between EU$7,000-9,000 per module and says the batteries will be approximately 50 per cent cheaper to manufacture than lithium-ion devices.

According to Altech, once the 100 megawatt hour battery plant is up and running the partnership could establish a larger production centre at the site.

Despite the dominance of lithium-ion batteries as a future-facing energy solution, some point to a number of drawbacks that limit its use in larger-scale energy applications. These hurdles include thermal runaway, a narrow operating temperature range, short lifespan and a reliance on commodities that are exposed to a flurry of price hikes.

The company believes its product is a remedy to each of these challenges and could provide a viable alternative to the ever-popular lithium-ion batteries in grid market energy storage.

Grid or large-scale energy storage involves stockpiling power during periods of cheap and abundant electricity and returning it to the grid when demand is higher and more expensive.

The system is used regularly in low carbon energy applications such as wind, tidal and solar powered operations.

Recent developments in the battery storage space have seen several commercial options come to the forefront – including Altech Batteries bleeding-edge alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.

Management will now look to embed the product into the lucrative grid storage sector – an industry that is projected to grow by a 28 per cent compound annual growth rate over the next few decades.

Altech says the segment could be worth over US$15 billion by 2027.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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