A Swedish salt-based energy storage system that is trialing the electric kiln technology of Australian company Calix has been named as a winner in the Helsinki Energy Challenge, a global competition with a prize of one million euros.
The competition was created to find the best modern solutions for heating the Finland capital in the future, while also helping it to quit coal by 2029 and become carbon neutral by 2035. It attracted more than 200 participants.
Sweden-based SaltX, in partnership with Rebase Energy, was named this week as one of four finalists, for its ‘Smart Salt City’ entry, based on the company’s patented EnerStore solution which stores energy as heat in specially prepared salt.
As SaltX explains it, EnerStore uses abundant, recyclable, energy dense, nanocoated limestone-based material as storage media, which is charged by surplus renewable electricity. The stored energy is then dispatched when needed, using the energy management software of Rebase Energy.
“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.
“Smart Salt City’s solution to Helsinki Energy Challenge melds the beauty of novel energy storage and artificial intelligence with commercially available energy technologies,” the company says on its website.
“We fashion a new energy system for Helsinki employing optimal system sizing, demand control and viable deployment strategies utilising novel thermochemical energy storage technology.”
The win, which gives SaltX a quarter share of the €1 million prize, is a win by association for ASX-listed Calix, which earlier this month signed a deal to build a pilot-scale 200kW electric direct separation reactor to be used in a Swedish demonstration of SaltX’s energy storage system.
Calix’s electric reactor technology has been successfully demonstrated using manganese at the company’s Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria, where it showed that it can be run entirely by electricity – a win in the bid to decarbonise industrial heating processes.
After lab testing of the technology using SaltX’s nanocoated salt, Calix signed a purchase agreement with SaltX for the design and supply of a 200kW eDS pilot reactor, as part of a Swedish demonstration project.
The deal means 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.
Calix, meanwhile, gained the right to undertake its own research in the eDS unit and to work with SaltX on further collaboration on a larger 1MW capacity unit, subject to the results achieved at the pilot plant.
“We congratulate SaltX on winning the Helsinki Energy Challenge, which is testament to the potential we see in the SaltX technology, and we are proud to be partnering with SaltX in this development,” said Calix CEO in a joint statement with SaltX on Friday.
“[The win] confirms that our energy storage solution can play a central role in future fossil-free cities,” said SaltX Technology CEO Carl-Johan Linér.
“In the work of finalising the entry we have added even more competence to our team which we will use in our commercialisation going forward.”
SaltX says the money will go towards continued development and future investments of both companies’ technologies – referring to Rebase. Discussions with the City of Helsinki will also begin concerning the development and implementation of the technology.