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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.

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.

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.

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.

January 2021:

Altris is pleased to announce that the prestigious German Cluster of Excellence, POLiS, has placed an order for 10kg of the groundbreaking cathode material Fennac®.

POLiS researches the next generation of batteries and is a joint cluster of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Ulm University, with the associated partners the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg and the Justus-Liebig University Giessen. The cluster researches batteries that are more powerful, more reliable, more sustainable and more environmentally friendly than the current lithium-ion batteries. The Cluster of Excellence shares Altris’ vision that post-lithium batteries have the potential to store more energy, be safer, offer a more cost-effective alternative and are a long-term option for mass applications such as stationary and mobile electrochemical storage.

The inclusion of a large amount of Fennac® in POLiS’ battery technology pilot testing shows huge confidence in Altris’ development, and the trials process will be followed with great interest. Producing such a large amount of cathode material for this pilot test goes in line with Altris’ plans to ramp up production of Fennac®. Since 2017, Altris has been scaling up production tenfold every year, which is predicted to continue until 2025.

December 2020:

Dear friends,

It’s almost been a year since I took the helm as the new CEO at Altris, and I thought now was a good time as any to reflect on the many successes of the company in the months gone by. For those who do not know me, my name is Adam Dahlquist and I took over the reins at Altris from Tim Nordh in February this year. Tim now continues his fantastic work as CTO of the company.

2020 was a big year for Altris. In what was a challenging time around the world, Altris still managed to produce its groundbreaking cathode material Fennac®. In 2020, Altris delivered its product to battery cell customers and partners who are developing Fennac® based battery in flow-batteries, solid state batteries and most commonly, a Fennac®-hard carbon based battery which has performance parity with the type of lithium iron phosphate battery that you would find in the latest Tesla Model S. 2020 was also the year when Altris became an international company, shipping Fennac® to six countries around the world.

This year was also the year when more of the world got to know Altris’ name, and with it came recognition for the research and development we are carrying out. In May, Altris was invited to join EBA250, an industrial development programme of the European Battery Alliance. This project-driven community brings together more than 400 industrial and innovation actors, from the mining industry to recycling, with the common objective to build a strong and competitive European battery industry. Then in September 2020, Altris was named in the prestigious ‘Ny Teknik’ list as 1 of 33 of the best and most innovative tech companies in Sweden. The annual Swedish list gives recognition to up and coming companies that have the greatest potential of becoming big in tomorrow’s tech world.

2020 was also a strong year for Altris’ financial development. The Swedish Energy Agency and the EU placed it’s trust in Altris in the form of a 10 MSEK (1m Euro) grant, mainly to scale Fennac® production, another 10 MSEK grant was given to close partners in Sweden and another 75 MSEK to European partners to develop Fennac® based battery cells. Furthermore, Altris’ share issue in July was oversubscribed, giving the financial backing to scale up production.

With those partners, as well as with customers in Europe, China and India, our common goal is to demonstrate that the next generation of batteries will be based on elements that are available in abundance. Altris’ business model focuses on cathode manufacturing that can act as a drop-in solution for lithium-ion battery manufacturing, allowing for quick upscaling to be possible and to capture the great potential that exists around this new battery chemistry. The financial backing in 2020 has enabled Altris to invest in staffing and equipment that will support the continued success of the company in the years to come.

Looking to 2021 and Altris plans to increase the production capacity of Fennac® tenfold. This will enable enough cathode material to create 5 MWh of battery cells to be produced. This goes in line with Altris’ plan to scale production tenfold every year between 2017 until 2025. Currently Altris provides Fennac® to 7 entities that have already decided to learn how to make Fennac® based batteries. The increase in production in 2021 will not only enable us to ship to even more companies, but there will also be enough material for demonstrations of big battery packs.

2020 has been a challenging and eventful year – so I wish you all the best for the festive period, and look forward to working with you in 2021.

Best regards,

Adam Dahlquist
Altris CEO

September 2020:

Altris newly completed issue of shares was oversubscribed despite covid-19. Altris is thus financially equipped to scale up production and disrupt the battery industry. The aims is to make Altris’ battery chemistry dominant in stationary storage and to take significant market share in electric vehicles.

– Altris has chosen a business model that makes it possible to quickly scale up and capture the great potential that exists around this new battery chemistry, says Torbjörn Sternsjö investor in the company and newly appointed board member.

Altris creates an opportunity for the world’s producers of lithium-ion batteries to rapidly switch to producing sustainable sodium ion batteries. With Altris cathode material Fennac®, battery cell manufacturers can create competitive batteries from elements that are abundant on earth. Manufacturing requires no manganese, cobalt, lithium, phosphorus, or copper, only common and non-toxic elements. Raw material cost will be reduced without the need for investment in new equipment. 

Torbjörn Sternsjö, investor and board member