ROUNDUP: US$30m raised for flywheels, NREL’s BTM research, Thermal storage US certification project


Chakratec raises US$30m for ‘Kinetic Power Booster’ flywheel

A company making energy storage systems based on flywheels and aimed at supporting ultra-fast charging for electric vehicles (EVs) has raised IS96 million (US$30 million) in capital. 

Chakratec, headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, develops and markets its kinetic energy storage systems and is targeting markets in the US and Europe with its newly raised funding, having issued new shares and warrants convertible into shares. 

The company has adapted flywheels to support fast charging even in grid-constrained regions, it claimed, potentially customers saving big money on expensive upgrades to transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure. 

The latest model in its Kinetic Power Booster range, KBP100kW, can handle more than 200,000 charge and discharge cycles at high power, can be used with chargers from multiple vendors and has a 20-year lifespan, the company claims.

Funding was raised from investors including three Israeli investment houses, More, Melin Lapidot and Meitav Dash, as well as insurance company Phoenix. The round was led by Israel-headquartered infrastructure services group Afcon Holdings. 

Chakratec has a patent pending for its flywheel design. 

NREL researchers look at ESS-specific battery design

A group of experts at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is developing lithium-ion battery designs aimed at behind-the-meter (BTM) stationary energy storage systems (ESS). 

NREL’s researchers have joined the US Department of Energy’s BTMS Consortium, which largely looks at the role of batteries in enabling decarbonisation in buildings alongside energy efficiency, EV charging, solar PV and controlling building loads. 

They have been investigating the potential — and the limitations — of lithium titanate (LTO) anode and lithium-ion manganese oxide (LMO) cathode batteries for stationary storage, a market which has different demands to meet versus electric vehicles. 

LTO and LMO are free of critical materials, particularly cobalt, and offer high levels of safety and long expected lifespans. However, conventional designs of batteries using the chemistries have comparatively low energy density and they are temperature-dependent for their performance. 

By using thicker electrodes and adjusting the operating temperature of the battery, NREL researchers have attempted to identify a “‘sweet spot’ to leverage the advantages of electrode loading and increased temperatures to maximise the performance of LTO/LMO battery cells,” NREL researcher and project leader Yeyoung Ha said. 

Using electrochemical modelling, the team have verified their findings, simulating reactions at different temperatures and different thicknesses of electrodes. 

Strategies for use are also being looked at: for example researchers found that with stationary storage, electrode utilisation was significantly improved for batteries that were left to rest intermittently during discharge, as opposed to fully discharging as would be the case for batteries used in vehicles. 

Azelio looks at US certification for thermal storage technology

Thermal energy storage provider Azelio has begun work on a project which the company claimed will help open up opportunities for its technology to be used in the US.

The Swedish startup has a technology that stores energy as 600°C heat in a phase change material (PCM) made of a recycled aluminium alloy. The heat then drives a Stirling engine, which converts the energy into electricity. 

According to Azelio that makes it suitable for charging with solar energy and then to be used in long-duration energy storage applications of 10-12 hours and it is capable of daily cycling. Azelio won the first commercial order for its product, TES.POD, which is a stackable 13kW unit, in December 2020.  

Azelio said today that it will work with electrical and instrumentation contracting and technical services company MMR Group to carry out a certification project in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US.

TES.POD units will be certified as compliant with US standards, and MMR Group will carry out necessary modifications to units shipped from Azelio’s manufacturing facility in Sweden to make sure they meet those standards. The units will also be used to train up MMR Group staff in their installation and operation. 

Azelio is one of the founder member organisations in the Long-Duration Energy Storage Council, which launched last November at COP26 and counts the likes of Microsoft and Google among its members. The company already has DNV’s verification for the performance of TES.POD systems. 

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