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Antora Energy turns on first thermal battery

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Sep 13, 2023
Antora Energy's thermal battery being installed at the site of host Wellhead Electric in Fresno, CA.

Antora Energy's pilot thermal battery project at Wellhead Electric Company's site near Fresno, Calif. Photo: Courtesy of Antora Energy.

Startup Antora Energy kicked off operation of a bus-sized pilot thermal battery project, highlighting an unusual energy-storage tech, and paving the way for the company's fundraising.

Why it matters: New types of low-cost and longer-duration energy-storage systems could help companies and utilities better access clean energy, reducing carbon emissions.

Driving the news: Antora Energy started operating its first pilot project at a site of independent power producer Wellhead Electric Company near Fresno, Calif.

  • Antora, founded in 2018, is planning to raise its Series B in the next few months, following its $50 million Series A announced in February 2022, CEO Andrew Ponec tells Axios.
  • Current investors in Antora include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, Shell Ventures, BHP Ventures, Grok Ventures, Trust Ventures, Overture VC, Impact Science Ventures and Fifty Years VC.
  • The company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., leased a pilot manufacturing facility in San Jose a few months ago and plans to make its thermal batteries there to deliver to future customers.

Zoom in: Antora makes an entirely new type of "battery" that stores energy as heat instead of the chemical reactions that occur in lithium-ion batteries.

  • In Antora's system, to charge the battery, clean energy–derived electricity superheats coils that heat up carbon blocks in insulated containers.
  • Antora is unique in that it can provide high heat to customers, and some industrial players like steel or cement makers could be interested in tapping into that.

Big picture: A handful of companies are developing first-of-its-kind long-duration energy-storage technology to try to beat out lithium-ion batteries on cost and duration.

Yes, but: New technologies like Antora's often take much longer than expected to move from the pilot deployment phase to mass-scale commercial production.

  • Antora says it intends to start shipping its thermal batteries to customers in 2025.
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