Silicon Valley Startup Antora Energy has been honing the concept of using heat to store energy since launching in 2018 and has secured $50 million from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital and other established climatetech investors. Those backers are betting that Antora can make a dent in the planet-warming gases generated by industrial activities, which have thus far proven hard to clean up. By turning intermittent wind and solar into dependable clean energy whenever it’s needed.
Thermal batteries are stationary, shipping container-sized units that can provide the high temperatures necessary to power hard-to-decarbonize industrial processes like smelting or chemical manufacturing. And thanks to the changing economics of clean energy and a generous tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act, investors are increasingly bullish about the technology, helping Antora Energy and Rondo Energy dramatically scale up production with new gigafactories.
Previously commercialized molten salt technology typically tops out below 600 degrees Celsius. Instead of reflecting sunlight with mirrors, Antora runs electricity through blocks of graphite, causing them to heat up to 2,000 degrees Celsius, unlocking capabilities that clean energy otherwise cannot serve: smelting metals, forging glass, producing cement and concocting fertilizer. The heat is transmitted through high-intensity light. By offering both heat and electricity outputs, Antora can serve customers who need clean power or high heat on demand, or those who need both.
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