South Australian startup CCT Energy Storage (founded in 2011 in the southern suburbs of Adelaide) has unveiled the world’s first working thermal battery – a device that’s cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, with the capability of storing six times more energy.
The “Thermal Energy Device” (TED) can store energy from any source and store it as latent heat.
It’s a modular unit that uses electricity to heat and melt silicon in a heavily insulated chamber. A heat engine will then take that energy when required and convert it back into electricity.
According to CCT Energy Storage, a standard TED box can hold 1.2 megawatts of energy – storing it at more than 12 times the density of a lead acid battery.
Because of the modular design, the TED is easily scalable by connecting multiple boxes (each one fitting in a 20ft container along with all its input and output electronics) together. In the case of a power outage, each TED can remain active for around 48 hours.
The TED box will also last much longer than other batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are said to lose up to 80% capacity in around 5,000 charge cycles. CCT claim that the TED system has been subjected to 3,000 cycles of service on the test bench without showing any signs of degrading. They believe that the units could last for at least 20 years.
In addition to all these benefits, CCT also say that the TED is cheaper than the alternatives – around 60-80% of the price of equivalent lithium-ion solutions like Tesla’s Powerpacks.