California-headquartered Inlyte Energy has raised $8 million in seed funding to develop grid batteries made of iron and table salt.
The funding round was led by At One Ventures with participation from First Spark Ventures, Valo Ventures, TechEnergy Ventures, Climate Capital, Anglo American, and others.
Inlyte will leverage the design of the previously-commercialised sodium metal halide battery to create an energy storage system with â€œhigh efficiency, long lifetime, competitive energy density, excellent safety, and at an ultra-low costâ€, a statement said.
Inlyte Energy says its battery has several benefits over other battery chemistries, including lithium-ion and sodium-ion. Because the raw materials are common and inexpensive, Inlyte’s batteries will have the lowest cost once manufacturing is scaled, the company claims. Iron and salt are also locally produced in almost all parts of the world and avoid â€œforeign-controlled supply chainsâ€, the statement added.
â€œWith a completely selective solid ceramic membrane and no flammable organic compounds, the iron and salt battery has a very long lifetime, while providing the same round-trip efficiency and similar footprint as lithium-ion,â€ the statement continued.
Inlyte Energy founder and CEO Antonio Baclig said: “Conventional sodium metal halide batteries, made from nickel and salt, were developed for electric vehicles in the 1980s and ’90s but never made it down the cost curve. At Stanford, I realised that by optimising that design for the grid instead of for vehicles, and by using iron instead of nickel, we could drive the cost incredibly low. Inexpensive storage is what will truly make wind and solar a competitive total solution versus fossil fuels, not just in California but everywhere in the world. At the end of the day, solutions for the climate crisis are beholden to economics for both companies and countries, and we would have chosen this design and these materials on that basis alone â€“ but there are so many other benefits as well.”
Iron and salt batteries, unlike lithium-ion batteries, can also operate in extreme heat or cold, making them well suited for locations with increasingly high temperatures. Inlyte is targeting the daily energy storage market, with a storage duration of four to ten hours. Inlyte says its batteries provide â€œexcellent round-trip efficiencyâ€, that is the percentage of electricity put into storage that is later retrieved – the higher the round-trip efficiency, the less energy is lost in the storage process.
Laurie Menoud, founding partner at at One Ventures, said: “Inlyte’s ability to compete with lithium-ion on lifetime, round-trip efficiency, and of course upfront cost also gives them a significant opportunity in a market that’s exploding right now.”