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Altech Batteries charges ahead with battery prototype production

Altech Batteries says its ABS60 battery packs are ideally suited for renewable energy storage. Credit: File

Subiaco-based Altech Batteries has fast-tracked to production in Germany of the final prototype of its battery pack that uses sodium ions found in ordinary salt instead of expensive and scarce minerals.

The company is aiming its ABS60 battery pack towards the world’s burgeoning renewable energy and grid storage markets and management believes it has the potential to be an industry “game-changer”.

It uses the sodium ions rather than the lithium, cobalt and graphite used to make lithium-ion batteries. Not only does that eliminate exposure to supply chain concerns and any price hikes for those critical metals, but Altech says its batteries are also expected to be up to 40 per cent cheaper than the lithium-ion version.

The sodium chloride battery packs are fire and explosion-proof and can operate in extreme temperatures – from 140 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius. The company says an extra bonus is that they are noise-free because they have no moving parts.

Altech says two battery-pack prototypes are being fabricated at the Fraunhofer IKTS facility in Hermsdorf. The process involves the manufacture of 480 ceramic solid-state cells and the production of auxiliary equipment including cabling, module structures, composite isolation cabinet and a battery management system.

Once fabrication is completed, the 60KWh sodium chloride solid state (SCSS) batteries will undergo cycling testing under extreme conditions before being dispatched for testing with customers.

Last November, Altech and its joint venture (JV) partner Fraunhofer released the design for the battery pack, which boasts a rated operating voltage of 600 volts at 100 amps.

In March this year, Altech released the design for its 1MWh GridPack design for the renewable energy storage market, with the GridPack comprising up to 20 of the ABS60 battery packs. Altech says its GridPack is designed with a “plug and play” feature that ensures they can be easily installed in remote locations.

We have built a dynamic and fast-moving project team incorporating personnel from Altech, Fraunhofer and various leading German engineering companies and industrial contractors. The advancements made on the final designs of the 60 KWh Battery Pack in such a short time frame are outstanding. Altech Batteries managing director Iggy Tan

The GridPacks will be constructed with a sea container design to facilitate transportation and ensure simple installation. They can be stacked on top of each other to minimise their footprint and allow easy scalability to meet changing storage requirements.

Altech says they have been engineered to ensure complete protection from dust and any external weather environments so there is no need for any additional shelters or buildings to house them.

The Altech-Fraunhofer JV is currently commercialising a 100MWh per annum plant to build its SCSS batteries on Altech’s site in the German State of Saxony.

Storing enough energy economically for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind fails to blow is one of the biggest hurdles green energy has to surmount. Eager eyes will be on Altech to see if they have devised a step-ladder to clear that obstacle.

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