14 Dec 2021: A year of dramatic upscaling
It’s that time of the year again – when we look back and reflect on the year gone by. This was undoubtedly a big year for Altris and I’m sure when the company’s history books are written – the 2021 chapter will tell the story of dramatic upscaling. Upscaling of our workforce, upscaling of our production capacity and upscaling of our finances and investment to take the company to the next level.
The upscaling couldn’t come at a better time either – interest in producing sodium-ion batteries is high and there is a global increased demand for batteries. Battery giant CATL recently declared that they believe the performance of sodium-ion batteries to be roughly the same, or even better than the lithium-ion batteries they currently produce, in most aspects. The Chinese company has announced that there will be a value chain to produce such batteries by 2023. Since this announcement, there has been a notedly sharp increase in interest in Altris’ innovation, and the race to create sodium-ion batteries has begun.
To meet this interest, in 2021 we worked on bolstering our existing team by bringing in new expertise in the fields of business development, sales, grant applications, chemical compliance, quality assurance, supply chain management, procurement, project management and marketing. This also included expanding our team in China, and opening our first office there, in Guangzhou. Earlier in the year, our strategic board also took on a new composition – bringing together a healthy mixture of new faces and seasoned experts. This included Torbjörn Sternsjö taking over the Chairmanship, bringing with him a wealth of experience in business development and industrial engineering.
In financing news, Altris started the year strong. In Q1, Altris raised capital between funding rounds from a mixture of existing and new investors. This provided the opportunity for investment firm Molindo to invest and become a shareholder, bringing with them a long experience in financing green growth companies.
During Q4, work to scale up our production of Fennac to an industrial level has been ramping up. This will include the building of an industrial scale manufacturing unit in 2022, with the annual capacity to produce 2,000 tonnes of the cathode material, enabling 1GWh of sustainable batteries. Meanwhile, during 2021 production has been scaled up to not only enable us to ship to even more companies, but also to have enough material for demonstrations of battery packs in the MWh size.
Outside of commercial sales, during 2021 Altris has been lucky to collaborate on a number of exciting projects. In February, Altris joined the SIMBA project, a collaboration of 16 partners from 6 European Union and associated countries, with €8M in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020. SIMBA has the goal of delivering safe and low-cost all solid-state sodium battery technology for stationary applications. In April, Altris was selected to participate in an extremely ambitious project, aimed at electrifying passenger transport in Sweden. The project will use Altris’ groundbreaking cathode material to create sodium-ion batteries that can not only charge vehicles, but also balance local grid needs. In June, Altris could share the first results of a collaboration with Uppsala cell development company LiFeSiZE AB, which resulted in the creation of a sodium-ion battery cell that is not only competitive with lithium-ion batteries, but greatly improves upon it in every key sustainability criteria.
Finally, we cannot talk about 2021 without also talking about recognition. For the second year in a row, Altris was 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. The celebrations did not stop there either – Altris also was named as 1 of the 10 most promising, ready-to-scale and innovative companies in the Nordic-Baltic region by Cleantech Scandinavia.
2022 looks to be an even bigger year in the sodium-ion battery world – so for now I wish you all the best for the festive period, and I look forward to seeing what the new year brings.