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BlackRock-Temasek group backs Antora in $150M round

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

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

Thermal battery startup Antora Energy has raised a $150 million Series B round led by Decarbonization Partners, a joint venture between BlackRock and Temasek.

Why it matters: The large round adds validation for a new type of energy storage tech that could help companies and utilities better access clean energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Details: The Sunnyvale, California-based startup said the round will help it grow production of its thermal batteries.

  • The Nature Conservancy, GS Futures, and a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources also participated.

Catch up quick: Antora, founded in 2018, started operating its first pilot project late last year at a site of independent power producer Wellhead Electric Company near Fresno.

  • The company also opened a manufacturing facility in San Jose last year.
  • Antora says it intends to start shipping its thermal batteries to customers in 2025.

How it works: Antora makes a new type of "battery" that stores energy as heat instead of the chemical reactions that occur in the typical lithium-ion battery.

  • To charge the battery, clean energy–generated electricity superheats coils that heat carbon blocks in insulated containers.
  • Industrial customers, like steel or cement makers, or utilities and energy companies can tap into the high heat contained in the blocks.

Of note: Other existing investors in Antora include Lowercarbon Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, BHP Ventures, Overture VC, Trust Ventures, and Grok Ventures.

  • Antora has now raised over $230 million and gotten support from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E, the National Science Foundation and the California Energy Commission.

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

  • Startup Fourth Power makes a thermal energy system using graphite and molten tin. RedoxBlox makes a thermochemical battery out of metal oxide pellets made of low-cost Earth-abundant materials.
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