Chevron invests in Prussian Blue battery tech company Natron Energy; stationary storage for EV charging stations
Natron Energy, a developer of new battery cell technology based on Prussian Blue analogue electrodes and a sodium-ion electrolyte, has closed a strategic investment by Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) to support the development of stationary energy storage systems for demand charge management at electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Natron Energy will adapt its battery technology, originally developed for data center and utility-scale applications, to meet the power requirements of the emerging EV fast charging market.
Chevron Technology Ventures is excited about the opportunity to support Natron Energy’s development of high-performance energy storage systems. The high-power density and fast charging time of Natron’s unique battery technology make it an attractive storage solution for the EV station of the future.—Jesse Teichman, who led the investment by CTV
Prussian blue dye, commonly used in blueprints, stores and releases energy in the form of sodium ions. Unlike the electrode materials found in most lithium-ion batteries, Prussian blue enjoys a widespread availability and low cost that make batteries based on Prussian blue electrodes an economically attractive, environmentally friendly technology.
Natron’s patented technology uses Prussian blue pigments in both the positive and negative electrode of the battery. Prussian blue has a unique structure and composition that allow it to store energy much more rapidly and reversibly than other types of battery electrodes. For this reason, batteries based on Prussian blue can be fully charged and discharged tens of thousands of times at very high power.
Natron’s electrodes charge and discharge by single-phase reactions within the stability window of that electrolyte. This eliminates the conversion reactions and electrolyte decomposition that limit the lifetime of lead acid and lithium-ion cells.
This has allowed Natron to build the first battery in which chemistry does not limit the lifetime of the system, opening up new opportunities for energy storage to support EV charging, renewables such as solar and wind, and industrial applications. In addition, Natron’s batteries provide improved safety compared to incumbent technology as they are nonflammable during overcharge, hard short circuit, nail penetration, and under external heating to more than 200° C.
In 2018, researchers from Natron, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NYU published a paper in Nature Communications reporting results on a high-rate long-life low-cost sodium-ion battery full-cell system based on a redox couple of manganese (I/II) in Prussian blue analogs for a high-rate and stable anode.
A full-cell sodium- ion battery with low-cost Prussian blue analogs in both electrodes and co-solvent electrolyte retains 95% of its initial discharge capacity after 1000 cycles at 1C and 95% depth of discharge. The revealed manganese(I/II) redox couple inspires conceptual innovations of batteries based on atypical oxidation states.—Firouzi et al.
Vehicle electrification will be one of the defining economic trends of the next decade. Widespread EV adoption depends in part on technologies that enable ubiquitous fast charging and that mitigate drivers’ range anxiety. As a global leader in transportation energy services, Chevron has recognized this. We are thrilled that CTV has chosen to support Natron. This investment provides a terrific boost to us as we develop and demonstrate energy storage products that will make fast charging stations a reality.—Colin Wessells, CEO at Natron Energy
According to the US Department of Energy, access to fast charging stations, in combination with the recent increase in EV range, has reduced range anxiety associated with battery electric vehicles and may accelerate EV adoption. However, there are high electricity delivery costs for high power fast-charging stations. One potential technology solution for fast charging stations may be the use of stationary batteries to supplement demand for grid power.
Natron was founded as Alveo Energy in 2012 as a spin-out from research originally performed at Stanford University. Natron is backed by leading venture capital investors and has received support from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
A. Firouzi, R. Qiao, S. Motallebi, C.W. Valencia, H.S. Israel, M. Fujimoto, L.A. Wray, Y.-D. Chuang, W. Yang, and C.D. Wessells (2018) “Monovalent manganese based anodes and co-solvent electrolyte for stable low-cost high-rate sodium-ion batteries,” Nat. Commun. 9, 861 doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03257-1.