Inlyte Energy ($8M Seed funding to develop sodium-metal halide battery for grid-scale energy storage)

Inlyte Energy, an American cleantech company founded in 2021, develops and commercializes sodium-iron halide battery technology for renewable energy storage. The batteries are built with low-cost, sustainable, domestic raw materials and operate through intrinsically safe electrochemical processes. They can provide safer and lower-cost energy storage than lithium-ion batteries.

Challenges: Grid-scale energy storage

Grid-scale storage allows for energy produced during periods of low demand (and potentially low cost) to be stored and then used during peak demand periods. This process, known as time-shifting, helps to optimize the use of renewable energy and reduce the need for fossil fuel-based plants.

The grid-scale energy storage systems are especially helpful for storing power from clean sources like solar and wind. These renewable energy sources are intermittent; they do not produce electricity continuously as they depend on weather conditions. 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.

Inlyte Energy Technology

Inlyte Energy develops sodium (Na)-iron (Fe) solid-state batteries that have a high voltage, 4-10 hour discharging duration, and stable operation. The batteries are built with low-cost raw active materials like NaCl and iron particles. They can have a high energy density of 120 Wh/kg (320 Wh/L) at the battery pack level. They also have the advantages of long lifetimes under repeated cycling, insensitivity to extreme temperature environments, overcharge and over-discharge tolerance, and good safety performance under catastrophic mechanical impact.

Inlyte Energy sodium-metal halide battery

The diagram below depicts Inlyte Energy’s sodium-iron solid-state  battery with a cylindrical geometry.

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