Author: Tomas Nilsson

For the second year in a row, Altris has been named in Ny Teknik’s prestigious 33-listan. The annual award from the Swedish magazine acknowledges the 33 best and most innovative tech companies in Sweden — those with the potential to revolutionise their industries both in Sweden, and around the world.

For the 14th consecutive year, Ny Teknik has highlighted Sweden’s 33 most promising young tech companies that have the greatest chance to become leaders in their respective fields. For the first time, companies were only included in the list if they were seen to be contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Many companies are evaluated each year — with only the likes of Altris, Northvolt, Cake and Graphmatech, to name a few, making the final list in 2021.

‘It is a great honour that Altris is again named as 1 of the 33 best and most innovative tech companies in Sweden’ says Adam Dahlquist, Altris CEO. ‘We truly believe that the battery-world is primed to move towards producing sustainable, reliable and cost-efficient sodium-ion batteries. With our first industrial scale production facility opening next year, we stand ready to provide cell producers with the materials they need to make the transition’.

Companies making this year’s list work with a range of technical solutions, from energy solutions to biotechnology and robotics, from AI to logistics solutions. All 33 companies have one thing in common though: they were formed around their own technical innovation and have the potential to reach an international market.

You can read the full 33-listan here (in Swedish)

October 2021:

Altris has been named as 1 of the 10 most promising, ready-to-scale and innovative companies in the Nordic-Baltic region by Cleantech Scandinavia. Altris’ ground-breaking approach to creating a renewable, high-performance and cost-efficient alternative to lithium-ion batteries has secured the company a place in the Nordic CleanTech Open final later this year.

CleanTech Scandinavia annually evaluates start-ups with market-oriented propositions based on their level of innovation, market potential and the ability of the team to execute ideas. The jury is made up of 50 individuals from the worlds of venture capital firms, multinational industries, the utility sector, development agencies and public investment.

Following Altris’ progression to the top 25 earlier this year, a Nordic Camp took place in Smygehuk, Sweden, where cleantech companies were provided the opportunity to pitch and present their case to members of the jury.

‘Altris was recognised by the jury for creating a cathode material for sodium-ion batteries, Fennac®, which is based on abundant, non-critical and renewable raw materials’, says Adam Dahlquist, Altris CEO. ‘The jury also praised Altris’ scalability potential, since 2022 will see our first industrial manufacturing unit open, with a yearly capacity to produce 2000 metric tonnes of Fennac®. This will enable 1 GWh of sustainable sodium-ion battery cells to enter the market by 2023’.

For 10 years the Nordic Cleantech Open competition has served as a watchtower for up-and-coming cleantech innovation trends that will support the transition to a low carbon reality. The final 10 companies in the competition will have the opportunity to present at the Nordic Cleantech Open Final, held during the Cleantech Capital Day in Malmö on 16th-17th November 2021.

August 2021:

Altris AB has been named as 1 of the 25 most innovative, promising and ready-to-scale companies in the Nordic-Baltic region by CleanTech Scandinavia — for creating a renewable and cost-efficient alternative to lithium-ion batteries. This accolade comes from the 10th edition of the Nordic Cleantech Open competition, which recognises up and coming cleantech innovation trends that support the transition to a low carbon reality.

CleanTech Scandinavia annually evaluates start-ups with market-oriented propositions based on their level of innovation, market potential and the ability of the team to execute ideas. The jury panel is made up of 50 individuals from the worlds of venture capital firms, multinational industries, the utility sector, development agencies and public investment.

Altris was recognised for providing an alternative to today’s dominating battery chemistry — lithium-ion batteries — which requires raw materials that are scarce, toxic and geographically difficult to extract. Altris instead creates a cathode material for sodium-ion batteries, Fennac®, that is based on abundant, non-critical and renewable raw materials. Whilst this type of material is not new in itself, Altris has a new and patented method for manufacturing the material using low temperature and ambient pressure — making it a more sustainable and cost-efficient alternative.

‘It’s truly humbling for Altris to be recognised in this way’, says Adam Dahlquist, Altris CEO. ‘Altris was founded on the idea that in order for a truly sustainable future to be realised — safer, more environmentally friendly and affordable batteries are vital. This is why we produce the world’s first high performing cathode material made completely from renewable and low-cost materials — and it’s an honour to see CleanTech Scandinavia recognise this’.

The top 25 companies recognised today will meet next month in Smygehuk, Sweden, to participate in the next phase of the competition. There, they will be assessed again by the jury before the top 10 will progress to the Nordic Cleantech Open Finals.

June 2021:

A uniquely successful collaboration between Altris AB and the Uppsala cell development company LiFeSiZE AB has resulted in a sodium-ion battery cell that is not only competitive with lithium-ion batteries, but greatly improves upon it in every key sustainability criteria. The cell matches the performance, life-cycle and energy density of a lithium-ion battery based on a LFP cathode—but contains far more sustainable materials, has a more sustainable production method and is much easier to recycle. The cell was financially supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and is unquestionably the most sustainable high performing battery cell ever produced.

As the drive to reduce dependency on fossil fuels escalates, so does the demand for batteries and the materials to produce them. Electric cars, power tools, heavy duty vehicles, grid and home batteries – the need is rising, all whilst raw materials for lithium-ion batteries become more scarce or ethically troubling to extract.

‘Altris set out with the vision to create a highly reliable, sustainable and high-performance sodium-ion battery to rival its lithium-ion counterparts’ says Adam Dahlquist, Altris CEO. ‘This is technology that has the potential to revolutionise the industry, improve the sustainability of batteries and lower manufacturing costs’

The Cell

The battery is based on Altris’ groundbreaking Fennac®—a cathode material that is made up of elements that are widely abundant and have no geo-political sourcing issues: iron, air, seawater and wood. The performance of the material has many similarities with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) in that it has approximately the same voltage and capacity, with no thermal runway. Compared to LFP though, Fennac® removes the need to use copper in the battery cell, saving both on weight and cost.

Beyond the Fennac® based cathode, each and every one of the cell’s components are drastically improved compared to rival lithium-ion cells with regards to the sustainability of the materials used. The cell is made up of:

  • A hard carbon anode made from biomass (from the paper industry or coconut shells), as opposed to mined graphite. Industry standard graphite requires harsh chemical treatments to be used and when the battery is no longer useful, so there is a high likelihood that its stored carbon will be released into the atmosphere. Synthetic graphite alternatives that exist also require tremendous amounts of energy to produce.
  • A fluorine free and non-flammable electrolyte that is made up of elements available in abundance. Using a fluoride free electrolyte avoids the big problems experienced with the industry standard polyfluorinated carbon chains (PFOS) and LiPF6.
  • A bio-based binder for the anode and cathode (as opposed to the fluorine based binders that are standard in lithium-ion batteries).
  • A water solvent for the cathode and anode coating (eliminating the need for a very energy consuming handling of the industry standard and poisonous NMP compound).
  • A cellulose-fibre based separator, from renewable forestry products (as opposed to the fossil fuel oil-based products commonly used in lithium-ion batteries).
  • The cell in essence also becomes a carbon sink and when recycled. It will not add any CO2 into the atmosphere as any other type of battery would.

 

Performance

The composition and safety of this type of cell makes it ideally suited for applications where large battery installations are required at a low cost, with the highest possible safety standards. Typical uses would include urban or large-scale energy storage, shipping/marine applications and industrial equipment. Altris and LiFeSiZE have together developed 300 mAh cells (which have been cycled more than 100 times) and an 800 mAh cell (which is still undergoing cycle testing).

What’s next

In the coming months, Altris and LiFeSiZE will continue to work together to optimise the cell’s cycling parameters, the last stepping stone before producing larger cells. Bigger battery cells will then be produced (up to 10 Ah), with greater energy density (more than 100 Wh/kg) as well as testing the life cycle performance to a commercial level (more than 500 cycles). The cells will also undergo advanced fire testing.

Altris believes that all batteries should enable a renewable future without an increase in cost to the customer or the environment. To this end, Altris is currently collaborating with Swedish, European and Asian partners to introduce this technology to the mass market.

June 2021:

Following the 2021 Annual General Meeting – Altris AB is pleased to announce the new composition of the company’s strategic board for the coming year. The board contains a healthy mixture of new faces and seasoned experts – ready to use their expertise from various industries to take the company to new heights in the coming year. Changes to the board include:

Torbjörn Sternsjö – Chairman

Torbjörn continues his work with Altris, now in the position as Chairman of the board. Torbjörn is President Europe of Gränges, the innovative Swedish aluminum engineering company and has held various senior positions within Gränges and Sapa since 1994. He has a wealth of experience in business development and industrial engineering.

Thore Sekkenes

Thore is the European Battery Alliance Program Director, Industry, at InnoEnergy Scandinavia. Thore has extensive experience with project management, engineering and technical development, business development, product planning, market analysis and marketing and sales.

Morgan Sadarangani

Morgan is the founder of Molindo Energy AB, an energy fund start-up. Morgan was the CFO of Tethys Oil, a Nasdaq Stockholm listed company, from 2004 to 2017. Prior to Tethys Oil, he worked at SEB and Enskilda Securities department of Corporate Finance.

Dr Reza Younesi

Reza is an Associate Professor at Ångström Advanced Battery Centre (ÅABC) at Uppsala University and is one of the three scientists that made the groundbreaking discovery that made Fennac® a commercially viable cathode material.

Also continuing their outstanding work on Altris’ board is Paul Larsson, former Chairman and the first CEO of the company, and Dr William R. Brant, Associate Professor at the Ångström Advanced Battery Center.

April 2021:

Investment firm Molindo has today placed its trust in Altris, producer of the groundbreaking sodium-ion cathode material, to the tune of 3 MSEK (300,000 Euros). Molindo’s experience in helping to scale sustaintech companies makes them well-suited to support Altris’ journey to revolutionize the battery industry.

Altris has been raising capital between funding rounds from a mixture of existing and new investors, which provided the opportunity for Molindo to make a modest industrial investment. Beyond the investment though, Molindo’s background in financing green growth companies is of great value to Altris. Molindo’s advantageous knowledge recently worked to scale Renewcell, a fast-growing Swedish sustaintech company with a unique textile recycling technology that is changing the fashion industry for the better. Success Altris hopes to mimic.

‘Molindo’s interest in Altris’ comes at just the right moment, the production of our high performing and sustainable cathode material Fennac®, is prime for upscaling’ says Adam Dahlquist, Altris CEO

‘We are truly excited to be part of Altris’ journey and we believe Altris’ groundbreaking cathode material will make a significant commercial success in the global battery industry’ says Morgan Sadarangani, Molindo Energy CEO.

April 2021:

Altris has been selected to participate in an extremely ambitious project, aimed at electrifying passenger transport in Sweden. The collaborative project will use Altris’ groundbreaking cathode material Fennac® to create sodium-ion batteries that can not only charge vehicles, but also balance local grid needs. This depot is the first of its kind and marks the first real-world demonstration of Altris’ innovation.

Electrified transport plays an important role if Sweden is to be able to reach established environmental and climate goals. As the move to electrified transportation accelerates though, the electricity grid is under strain. In order to tackle this challenge, a unique constellation of actors have joined forces for a project under the umbrella of Sweden’s Smart City Strategy. The ambition is to create a solution for a balanced electricity network which can handle an increasing amount of electric public transport buses.

In Svealandstrafiken’s bus depot in Västerås, the project will create the first depot in the country that will use an algorithm to optimise the charging of electric public transport buses from sodium-ion batteries, whilst also balancing local grid needs.

The project brings together 10 partners from different fields, including giants of the industry such as ABB and Scania. The project has an overall budget of just over 19 million SEK (1.9 million Euros). Approximately 50% of this funding comes from Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, who help to build Sweden’s innovation capacity and contribute to sustainable growth. This particular project is part of the wider strategy to move towards smarter cities and is seen as an innovative circular solution for energy storage, benefiting both public transportation and the grid.

The project is run by Tvinn and BioDriv Öst and other collaborators on this project include:

ABB
Altris AB
Scania
Solkompaniet
Svealandstrafiken
Transdev
Region Uppsala
Uppsala University

February 2021:

Altris is participating in the SIMBA project (Sodium-ion and sodium metal batteries for efficient and sustainable next-generation energy storage) which kicked off in January 2021.

The SIMBA project has the goal of delivering safe and low-cost all solid-state sodium battery technology for stationary applications. Reducing the use of critical materials is at the core of SIMBA, which will use sustainable battery materials to reduce supply risks, restrictions and environmental impact – all of which currently affect other technologies, such as Lithium-ion batteries.

The unprecedented concept of SIMBA is based on the integration of a sodium metal anode into a sodium free assembly architecture, including a highly porous support on the anode side, a single-ion conductive composite/hybrid polymer electrolyte and an innovative cathode material.

SIMBA gathers a consortium of 16 partners from 6 European Union and associated countries, with €8M in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

For more information on SIMBA, please contact the project coordinator Prof. Ralf Riedel: ralf.riedel@tu-darmstadt.de

February 2021:

We are pleased to announce that Altris’ Dr William Brant has successfully fulfilled the criteria for his docentship, elevating him to the role of Associate Professor at Uppsala University.

Dr Brant’s research focuses on the dynamic non-equilibrium processes in crystalline materials that govern the performance of devices and the formation of new materials. These processes take place at the sub-nanometer scale, such as the arrangement, movement and relaxation of atoms—to the macroscopic scale where inter-particle interactions drive device performance. Dr Brant’s particular focus is on how to use diffraction techniques to follow these non-equilibrium changes and direct the design of new materials.

One of the requirements for the docenship was the successful completion of a lecture on the research topic. Dr Brant’s lecture was entitled ‘300 years of Prussian Blue: The journey from unscrupulous alchemists to sustainable batteries’.

At Altris Dr Brant is one of the original founders and a current board member. He played a key role defining the original synthesis method upon which the company has been built. Today, using his expertise on Prussian blue analogues, Dr Brant provides insight on material design and performance of Fennac®.

Congratulations William!

January 2021:

According to a recent article published on the popular German website ‘Home and smart’, batteries based on Altris’ Fennac® compound are significantly more environmentally friendly, as neither lithium, nickel or cobalt are used. This means that the supply chain is much more stable. In addition to the iron used in Fennac®, the original sources of the other substances are air, sea water and wood and are therefore much more sustainable. The article concludes that companies like Altris can offer an alternative solution to lithium-ion batteries that promises significantly more sustainability.

You can read more (in German) from Home and Smart’s interview with Altris here.