Battery Metals

Altech unveils new ‘big battery’ grid-scale energy storage product using sodium alumina tech

Mon 07 Nov 22, 11:53am (AEST)
A PV solar panel faces the photographer underneath a blue sky
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Key Points

  • Altech has released a battery pack product designed for grid-scale energy storage using its sodium alumina solid state tech
  • Product hits the market after Altech first formed JV with German battery lab Fraunhofer IKTS back in September
  • A Sodium Alumina Solid State Battery have less fire risk, operate in extreme temperatures, and outlast lithium-ion batteries

Altech (ASX:ATC) has unveiled to the market its latest product offering, a Sodium Alumina Solid State (SASS) battery pack designed for grid-scale energy storage assets incorporating a Battery Energy Storage System (BESSies). 

Altech’s 60KWh battery packs come after only two months of development with leading German battery research player Fraunhofer IKTS, which is a German heavyweight in the engineering space broadly. 

Back in September, Altech and Fraunhofer came together on the JV called CERENERGY with today’s outcome in mind: to develop a grid-scale battery using Altech’s special SASS technology. 

Altech is principally seeking to install the battery backs on-site renewable energy projects, so excess energy produced on one day can be exported to households and businesses the next. 

What are the benefits of SASS batteries? 

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 

A lower profile of fire risk is ideal for Altech, given that grid-scale BESSies have before been known to pose health hazards when toxic materials inside the batteries begin to burn. 

Last year, a BESS in Victoria using Tesla ‘Megapack’ batteries caught fire and burned for four days. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, SASS batteries do not contain hazardous liquids inside. 

The climate resilience element of the SASS 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.

All SASS needs is salt and alumina. Altech’s got plenty 

The SASS batteries, developed keenly by Fraunhofer, require sodium (the same thing as table salt, though bought in significantly larger quantities), and alumina. Altech, a high purity alumina developer which pivoted into batteries, 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. 

The lack of these critical minerals also make the product cheaper overall, Altech states. 

Feasibility study to determine cost 

A bankable feasibility study is being undertaken at this time to determine how much cheaper Altech can undercut lithium-ion-using competitors. 

The company expects its SASS battery packs to be up to 40% cheaper than lithium-ion rival products (think Tesla’s for-BESS ‘Megapacks,’ the same assets which caught fire in Victoria.) 

Whether that 40% discount is entirely accurate will be figured out in the study.

Ultimately, Altech is hoping to target ESG-friendly European energy markets with a European-made clean tech. 

The global BESS market is expected to climb from US$4.4bn to US$15.5bn by 2027, Altech highlights today. Zooming further out, only 20 gigawatts (GW) of BESS capacity in 2020 broadly is expected to grow to 3,000GW by 2050. 

Altech's three month charts; shares are up just short of 7% in the second hour of trade
Altech's three month charts; shares are up just short of 7% in the second hour of trade
Disclaimer: Market Index helps small-cap ASX listed companies connect with Australian investors through clear and concise articles on key developments. Demetallica 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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