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Natron Energy Scales Up Production of Sodium-ion Batteries at West Michigan Facility

Posted By: DBUSINESS on May 2, 2024.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

California-based Natron Energy Inc., a global developer of sodium-ion battery technology, began commercial-scale operations on April 29 at its manufacturing facility in Holland, west of Grand Rapids.

This is the first commercial-scale production of sodium-ion batteries in the U.S., according to Natron. The batteries were engineered to offer higher power density, higher cycles, a domestic U.S. supply chain, and unique safety characteristics over other battery technologies, and are the only UL-listed sodium-ion batteries on the market today.

At full capacity, the Holland facility is projected to produce 600 megawatts of sodium-ion batteries annually and will serve as a blueprint for future Natron giga-scale facilities. Natron will begin battery shipments in June with an initial focus on data center customers to address the energy storage needs and 24/7 power required to support the explosive growth of Artificial Intelligence.

“We are thrilled to announce the opening of the first commercial sodium-ion battery manufacturing facility in the United States,” says Colin Wessells, co-CEO of Natron. “Sodium-ion batteries offer a unique alternative to lithium-ion, with higher power, faster recharge, longer life cycle, and a completely safe and stable chemistry. As we now begin to scale production, Natron will strengthen the domestic battery supply chain and create high-quality clean energy jobs in Michigan.

“The electrification of our economy is dependent on the development and production of new, innovative energy storage solutions. We at Natron are proud to deliver such a battery without the use of conflict minerals or materials with questionable environmental impacts.”

Natron has invested more than $40 million to upgrade the $300 million facility and convert existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing lines to sodium-ion battery production.

Contributing to the investment, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) provided $19.8 million through the Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) program. ARPA-E provided the first source of funding to Natron in 2012,

followed by additional funding in 2020, and the company has received investments from strategic customers, including Chevron and Nabors Industries.

The Holland facility will accelerate Natron’s technology commercialization while supporting more than 100 local jobs by the end of 2025 and strengthening the region’s rapidly growing clean energy manufacturing sector.

“Today, we celebrate a factory that can fundamentally change industrial power and tackle domestic supply chains and make the United States the world leader in sodium-ion battery technology,” says Evelyn N. Wang, director for ARPA-E. “This team has dedicated so much time toward chasing and realizing a moonshot that can transform our country’s energy infrastructure. ARPA-E is proud to support companies like Natron that are making a real impact in America’s energy future.”

Beyond data centers, Natron aims to transform the way businesses use industrial power across a wide range of end markets, including industrial mobility, EV fast charging, and telecom.

According to Natron, the company’s patented Prussian blue electrodes store and transfer sodium-ions faster, more often, and with lower internal resistance than any other commercial battery on the market today. The battery chemistry presents zero strain during charging and discharge, 10 times faster cycling than traditional lithium-ion batteries, and an over 50,000 cycle-life.

Natron’s supply chain requires zero lithium, cobalt, nickel, or other difficult-to-obtain minerals. Made from commodity materials including aluminum, iron, manganese, and sodium electrolyte, Natron’s cells, modules, and battery represent an environmentally and socially responsible alternative to lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.

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