Altech forms JV with Fraunhofer IKTS to commercialise next-gen 100MW batteries

Wed 14 Sep 22, 10:01am (AEST)
Conceptual illustration using futuristic motifs representing a collection of batteries
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • Altech has formed a JV with leading European battery science firm Fraunhofer IKTS with Altech holding 75%
  • Altech to commercialise Fraunhofer’s Sodium Alumina Solid State (SASS) Batteries, a next-gen design IKTS has developed for 8 years
  • Underpinning movement to sales will be the JV’s SASS Battery project, called CERENERGY, in Saxony, nearby Altech’s plant

Altech Chemicals (ASX:ATC) has formed a JV with leading European battery science experts Fraunhofer IKTS to commercialise the latter’s SASS 100MW battery designs for sale into the battery energy storage market. 

Energy storage batteries are a different kettle of fish to EV batteries, with the assets designed to be built alongside power plants and other energy utilities (or act as a plant on their own) to store enough power to support a city or town. 

The batteries in question, known as Battery Energy Storage Systems (or BESSies) are increasingly considered a part of decarbonisation strategies and electrification initiatives in most tier-1 jurisdictions with the infrastructure to support them. 

What is a SASS battery? 

The advantage of using a SASS battery per Fraunhofer’s design boils down to three key advantages over typical lithium-ion batteries: 

  • Altech notes the SASS batteries pose no combustion risk 

  • SASS batteries are climate resilient, able to operate in extreme environments 

  • Battery life in a SASS build is far superior to that of lithium-ion 

The climate resilience element of the battery assets may prove to be the most desirable to BESS system operators or purchasers weighing up the options. 

Consider, for instance, that Europe’s 2022 summer season was the hottest the region has ever recorded in history. 

How are they made? 

The SASS batteries require sodium (the same thing as table salt, though bought in significantly larger quantities), and alumina. Altech, being a high purity alumina developer on the side, is the obvious choice for Fraunhofer’s partnership. 

A lack of reliance on cobalt, lithium, graphite, and copper also poses the opportunity of a less complicated supply chain to manufacturing, as well as greater freedom from access to volatile metals markets. 

CERENERGY project 

To commercialise the product (by proving to the world the benefit of SASS technology) Fraunhofer and Altech will together manage a 100MW demonstration plant on Altech’s acreage in Germany’s Schwarze Pumpe.

Altech already holds land there in a well-connected and well-used industrial area. 

Fraunhofer’s technology, Altech notes, is already successfully in use at multiple sites in the EU region, and has been previously proven as successful in small-scale tests. 

At this time, CERENERGY (so named after the branding on the SASS batteries Fraunhofer develops) will be composed of multiple 10KW batteries which are designed to be stacked together in a simple sea container outfit ready for grid-scale storage, and easily transportable. 

Manufacturing plant 

As part of the deal, the JV is also opting to build a SASS manufacturing facility with Altech, to be built on the latter’s landholding in Saxony. 

The partnership will aim to produce 10,000 10KW SASS batteries each year. Each module is expected to sell for up to EUR9,000. 

Notably, Altech predicts production costs to be up to 50% cheaper than that of a facility producing 10,000 lithium-ion batteries per year. 

Altech's three month charts. The company's share price shot up 29% on Tuesday 13 September
Altech's three month charts. The company's share price shot up 29% on Tuesday 13 September
Disclaimer: Market Index helps small-cap ASX listed companies connect with Australian investors through clear and concise articles on key developments. Altech was a client at the time of publishing. All coverage contains factual information only and should not be interpreted as an opinion or financial advice.


Written By

Jonathon Davidson

Finance Writer

Jonathon is a journalism graduate and avid market watcher with exposure to governance, NGO and mining environments. He was most recently hired as an oil and gas specialist for a trade publication.

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