A promising battery startup backed by Bill Gates, Liquid Metal Battery, has changed its name to. . . Ambri. The company, which is the brainchild of MIT Professor Don Sadoway, says the new name is a nod to Cambridge, which is where the company was founded. Ambri CEO Phil Giudice tells me that the new name is shorter, easier to say, less literal, and less confusing.
Ambri is developing a battery for the power grid using molten salt sandwiched between two layers of liquid metal. The battery is still about two years from commercialization, and the team has built a 16-inch prototype, though they might scale that up to 36 inches. The team is still figuring out if they want the battery to be squarish or circular.
Sadoway had the idea to create a battery that used super low cost materials and he believed a battery based on liquid metal electrodes would be stable and scalable at an acceptably low cost for grid storage and renewable energy storage applications. A dirt cheap battery that could be used for the power grid could overcome the variable nature of clean power or the problem that the sun only shines and the wind only blows at certain times of day.
Sadoway met Bill Gates after the Microsoft-co-founder took an online class of his at MIT. Gates invested in the company, as did oil company Total, and venture capital firm Khosla Ventures; the Department of Energy’s high risk early stage ARPA-E program also gave Ambri a $6.9 million grant.