Swedish plans to develop and trial a salt-based energy storage system will enlist the electric kiln technology of award-winning Australian company Calix, in an agreement with Sweden-based SaltX Technology.
ASX-listed Calix said on Monday that it had entered an agreement with SaltX to build a pilot-scale 200kW electric powered direct separation reactor (eDS) in Sweden to be used as a charger in its energy storage system.
The joint venture, which would also incorporate Japanese giant Sumitomo, will install the reactor at SaltX’s current pilot in Stockholm, with a “complete optimised storage solution” expected to be ready for testing and validation within the calendar year. And if the tests prove successful, a megawatt-scale commercial plant could follow.
“We are thrilled to have a leading partner like Calix for optimising SaltX EnerStore system further,” said Carl-Johan Linér, the CEO of SaltX Technology in a company statement.
“Calix is a provider of first-class solutions and I’m convinced that this is the start of a promising long-term collaboration. Furthermore, I’m also proud that we now have secured a scalable technology for the charging equipment.’’
SaltX is behind a patented nanocoated salt that claims to have solved a couple of the key barriers to using salt as an energy storage medium, including its highly corrosive properties and its tendency to degrade and lose efficiency after a limited number of cycles.
“We use a technology where, it’s similar to an engine and a fuel tank, so the salt is the fuel and it’s really easy to scale this tank up and then we have a reactor or engine where we can take out the energy or the power,” SaltX’s marketing director Eric Jacobson said in 2019.
This is where Calix’s electric reactor technology comes in – a version of which the company successfully built and commissioned in 2019 at its Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria.
The Victorian project, dubbed BATMn – a portmanteau of batteries and manganese, pronounced Batman – was Calix’s first demonstration of an all-electric reactor, and showed that its proprietary technology could be run entirely by electricity – a win in the bid to decarbonise industrial heating processes.
Calix’s immediate plans following the success of the BATMn reactor had focused on the development of low-cost, safe, and easier to recycle electrode materials for lithium-ion battery technology. But the company also flagged a longer-term R&D focus on the “development of high performance nano-active materials for next-generation, solid-state and post lithium electro-chemical energy storage technologies.”
Which brings us back to the SaltX system. Calix – having returned promising results from lab testing of the nanocoated salt – says it has executed a purchase agreement with SaltX for the design and supply of a 200kW eDS pilot reactor, as part of the Swedish demonstration project.
SaltX will be responsible for the construction and operation of the pilot reactor, while Calix will provide a non-exclusive, non-transferable limited license to SaltX to use the eDS reactor for the pilot plant.
The deal also gives Calix the right to undertake its own research in the eDS unit and – as mentioned above – to work with SaltX on further collaboration on a larger 1MW capacity unit, subject to the results achieved at the pilot plant.
“The use of Calix’s technology in baseload energy storage systems was foreshadowed as we developed our SOCRATCES project in Europe – which is based upon solar-powered calcium looping and is progressing well,” said Calix managing director and CEO Phil Hodgson in a statement.
“We are very pleased to be working with SaltX on its system now also. This system has great potential for load balancing applications as the grid de-carbonises,” Hodgson said.
“Calix is a pioneer in developing sustainable solutions for many industries and therefore I believe this co-operation will have many benefits in SaltX mission of developing energy storage solutions that will have a real change for the renewable energy sector,” added SaltX CEO, Carl-Johan Linér.