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Summary:

A Bill Gates and Khosla-backed battery startup, Ambri, has reached an important milestone: it’s opened up its first small scale factory.

Ambri battery

Battery startup Ambri has officially cut the ribbon on its first ever battery manufacturing factory in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The company (formerly called Liquid Metal Battery) and backed by Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and oil giant Total, will use the factory to make its first prototype battery systems for deployment next year and in 2015.

Ambri has developed a battery for the power grid that uses molten salt sandwiched between two layers of liquid metal. The company is the brainchild of MIT Professor Don Sadoway and the idea is to create a battery that uses super low cost materials but is stable and scalable at an acceptably low cost to enable grid storage and renewable energy storage applications.

Ambri won’t build a full scale commercial battery factory until 2015. But this factory in Marlborough will build prototype batteries that will land at the Joint Base Cape Cod and at a project in Hawaii in conjunction with First Wind.

Sadoway met Bill Gates after the Microsoft-co-founder took an online class of his at MIT. Gates ended up investing in the company, and the Department of Energy’s high risk early stage ARPA-E program also gave Ambri a $6.9 million grant.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the factory on Thursday.

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  1. and, what happens when …
    can molten salt be used on eggs?
    great idea if we know how to recycle it … if we don’t know that part of it yet, we need to NOT go into mass production. I think that should be a nuReg, don’t u?!

    1. I imaging they’d be poached and seasoned in one shot. :)

    2. Nikohl,

      It’s a utility scale battery, not a consumer product.

      The overall benefit coming from its use will far outweigh any problems that may arise from recycling. This is a battery that will store energy from solar, wind and other renewable resources.

      It will also store energy to offset peaking scenarios. Peaks in my neck of the woods can get over $1000/MWh, which is ridiculous.

      These batteries will decrease the need for natural gas turbines that exist primarily to supply peaking scenarios.

      Their existence will be a net benefit to the planet.

  2. Reblogged this on Niki.V.all.ways.My.way. and commented:
    i think one of the prime directives under the nuRegs should be: “You cannot manufacture it until you can recycle 100% of your waste from your product in an efficient, safe, non-life threatening, non-toxifying of our earth kind of way.” well, i’d probably take the time and write it a bit more legally, but you get my drift!

    1. they would be chemically clean and simple enough to separate chemically as Brandon says. What it is as a molecule or atom with a valency and potentials with others=how difficult,some are just easier. Whats true of lead acid batteries in recycling difficulty isnt true of many metal hydride types for instance.

  3. The design is based off of earth abundant metals that alloy and segregate according to the discharging and charging of the batteries over many years. When the battery is no longer of use, you simply segregate the constituents and reuse or deposit them back into the mines you found them in.

  4. Echoes of the Wright Brothers, the Motor Car and the Computer industry in their nascent stage. The American trait of trying to walk before we run and that before we fly, has resulted in monumental breakthroughs creating new industries. Kudos to Messrs. Sadoway and Bradwell for the guts to start small and develop the technology before scaling up to serve the market in the current financial and securities market of immediate gratification. We, as a country and a people, need such pioneers to move the technology forward. Normally an industry or the Central Government would provide the backing, however our business and government interest in self serving decisions precludes those sources from helping.
    Thank you.

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