Adena Power ($3M to develop sodium-aluminum solid-state battery for grid-scale energy storage)

Adena Power, an American cleantech company founded in 2022, develops and commercializes sodium solid-state battery technology based on an intrinsically safe chemistry and low-cost, sustainable, domestic raw materials. This technology is an alternative to lithium-ion batteries and is designed to provide safer, longer-lasting, and lower-cost energy storage.

Challenges: Grid-scale energy storage

Grid-scale energy storage systems store extra electricity generated during periods of low demand, like at night, and release it during periods of high demand, like during the day.

These systems are especially helpful for storing power from clean sources like solar and wind. For these renewable energy sources, making electricity only happens when the sun is out or the wind is blowing. Utility-scale energy storage systems can help make sure that renewable energy sources can always meet demand, even when the sun isn't shining or wind isn't blowing. Within the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, grid-scale storage is a key part.

Wind turbines produce clean electricity in Austria.
Wind turbines produce clean electricity in Austria.

Grid-scale storage technologies

A number of energy storage technologies are suitable for grid-scale energy storage applications, and their characteristics differ.

Pumped-storage hydropower is the most common. The efficiency of a hydroelectric pumping storage system is high. Only 10% of the energy stored in an upper reservoir is lost when the water passes through the turbines to generate electricity. Today, pumped-storage hydropower is the most common type of energy storage. Its total installed capacity was about 160 GW in 2021, which was 2.5% of the world's total installed capacity and 99% of all energy storage facilities.

Batteries are a promising technology for grid-scale energy storage because they can provide fast response times and high energy density. In recent years, their market has seen strong growth. Lithium-ion chemistries are currently the most popular type of grid-scale battery storage in the US and around the world.

Some other storage technologies are compressed air, flywheel energy storage, supercapacitor storage, and gravity storage. However, they play a comparatively small role in today's power systems. These technologies could become more important in the future, though, as the demand for grid-scale storage grows.

Grid-scale storage challenges

There are some of the key challenges of grid-scale storage, like cost, technical limitations, and environmental concerns.

Building large-scale energy storage facilities can have a high start-up cost, which may make it hard to justify investment in some cases. Also, batteries, which are often used in grid-scale storage, have been getting cheaper over the past few years, but they are still more expensive than some other types of energy storage.

There are several technical limitations associated with grid-scale storage. For example, many types of energy storage systems have a lower energy density than fossil fuels, which means that they may need more space to store the same amount of energy. Some types of energy storage, like batteries, can't provide energy for long periods of time either.

Large-scale hydroelectric facilities can have significant environmental impacts. Before using them, it's important to think carefully about how they will affect the environment.

Adena Power Technology

Adena Power develops sodium (Na)-aluminum (Al) solid-state batteries that have a high energy density, long discharging duration, and stable operation. The battery is built with low-cost raw materials of NaCl and AlCl₃ salts and Al wool. The cost of raw materials is less than $7 kWh⁻¹. The battery also uses a NaSICON solid-electrolyte separator that is stable in acidic sodium chloroaluminate melt catholyte. This enables the battery to operate at a high voltage, thereby increasing the specific capacity and specific energy of the battery to about 111 mAh/g and 202 Wh/kg, respectively.

Adena Power sodium battery

The diagram below depicts Adena Power’s Na-Al solid-state  battery with a planar geometry.

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