Antora Energy, a thermal battery startup backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy, has unveiled its first commercial-scale system in Fresno, California. The system aims to help heavy industries transition away from dirty energy sources, which contribute significantly to global pollution.
According to the International Energy Agency, the power and heavy industry sectors accounted for approximately 60% of annual pollution in 2019. Furthermore, Energy Innovation predicts that these sectors will be the largest source of planet-warming pollution in the United States by 2030.
Traditional lithium-ion batteries store electricity as chemical energy. However, Antora’s thermal battery system stores energy as electrically generated heat inside carbon blocks, reaching temperatures as high as 3,272 degrees Fahrenheit (1,800 degrees Celsius). The system then converts the stored heat back into electricity using thermophotovoltaic cells, similar to those found in solar panels.
Industries such as cement and steel plants require a continuous supply of heat and often rely on dirty energy sources like coal and natural gas. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are intermittent, leading to wastage of excess power. Antora’s thermal battery can address the intermittency issue by converting intermittent solar and wind power into a reliable and continuous supply of industrial heat and electricity.
Jon Glass, the acting deputy director for commercialization at the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, praised Antora’s thermal battery system, stating, “You can achieve the benefits of industrial CHP, combined heat and power, in a zero-carbon way.”
Antora CEO Andrew Ponec envisions a future where their thermal battery system competes with dirty energy on cost without subsidies. To achieve this, Antora plans to gather operational data and evaluate potential risks to encourage companies to adopt the technology.
Antora is currently constructing a battery manufacturing facility in the Bay Area, set to be completed by 2024. The company intends to ship its thermal battery technology to its first customers by 2025.
By offering a zero-carbon solution to provide uninterrupted process heat, Antora’s innovative thermal battery system represents a significant step toward mitigating industrial pollution and combatting climate change.
– Bloomberg: [Add URL]
– International Energy Agency
– Energy Innovation