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Batteries Ambri leadership team

Published on August 12th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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Ambri Update: Ambri Publishes 2013 Progress Report

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August 12th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan 

Ambri

Ambri plans to turn this diagram into an earth-shattering, real-world, disruptive, mass-produced energy storage technology.

Ambri is one of the “potentially breakthrough” energy storage companies we’re watching. If you’re not familiar with the name, it is the company that spun out of liquid metal battery research conducted by Donald Sadoway* and some of his students at MIT. Still not ringing a bell? You’ve very likely watched Sadoway speak about the technology in a March 2012 Ted Talk. Still not ringing a bell? Well, read on anyway — this is a company to keep an eye on.

In August 2012, we wrote that Ambri had… become Ambri. We also wrote at that time that the startup had received funding from Bill Gates, the giant oil company known as Total, and the well known cleantech venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. That was in addition to $6.9 million from the Department of Energy’s high-risk, early-stage ARPA-E program.

Donald Sadoway - The Colbert Report - 2012-22-10 - Video Clip   Comedy Central-132746

Donald Sadoway on The Colbert Report.

Not long after that announcement, Donald Sadoway appeared on The Colbert Report. A rare move for such a researcher.

So, what’s been happening since then?

Well, frankly, we haven’t really heard anything from the company. But we just found out that it has been doing a lot (to be expected). Here’s a paragraph from the new 2013 Progress Update from Ambri:

Ambri has accomplished a lot in the last year. Our liquid metal battery continues to be distinguished as a low-cost and long-lifespan electricity storage technology providing hours of discharge capacity while also meeting second to second power needs. We are enthusiastic about Ambri’s market opportunity to transform the electricity grid — for the first time enabling the largest and most critical supply chain in the world to be operated with warehouses everywhere. Once commercial, Ambri looks forward to integrating unlimited amounts of intermittent resources, reducing electricity costs by mitigating congestion and price volatility, and lowering the amount of investment  required in the entire grid value chain—from generation, to transmission and distribution infrastructure. [sic]

Okay, a lot of verbiage there and not much substance on the progress Ambri has been making — we already got the story above. Here’s a bit more on the technical side of things:

Ambri cell developmentCells: Demonstrated—economic, simple to assemble and operate, long lasting

  • > 7 months continuous operation, 75-80%DC-efficiency
  • < 10 min assembly
  • 4” square cell selected as commercial cell; meets cost target, system voltage, and provides redundancy
  • redesigning ‘lab’ cell into ‘commercial’ cell

System: implementing design

  • clear roadmap to commercial systems
  • Operating cells in parallel and series strings
  • Fast tracking bmS development; industry standard power electronics

ambri energy storage

Manufacturing: Scoping underway

  • Simple manufacturing/assembly processes under development and being validated
  • Engaged with world leading component suppliers and manufacturers
  • Developing low-cost recycling processes
  • On track for delivering commercial prototypes in 2014 and expect to ramp to full commercial roll out 2015 and beyond


That’s about all we’ve got. Other than that, Ambri reports that the team has grown from 10 employees (beginning of 2012) to 33 today, including four new members of the leadership team. And we learned a bit about Ambri’s office culture:

“While you can find many of our engineers and scientists at Ambri until the late hours of the evening, it’s not all work. Our ping pong table is often utilized, we drop everything every six months to put our all into a company service day, we’ve assembled a top-tier dodgeball team and we all eat lunch together each day.”

In other words, these are normal people who hang out together and sometimes perform public service. I imagine this is exactly the update you were anticipating, right?

By the way, here’s a snapshot of the full leadership team:

Ambri leadership team

In all seriousness, this is indeed a cleantech team to watch, and on the bottom of the Ambri 2013 Progress Update was included this tidbit:

“Ambri has in hand the necessary capital to deliver commercial prototypes to customers in 2014.” So, I guess that’s the target?

Other big energy storage startups we’re keeping a close eye on are:

Check out all of our Ambri coverage here for more background on this company and its technology.

*Notably, Donald Sadoway is also working on a much greener way to produce steel, which currently comes from a seriously harmful production process that is responsible for a huge portion of our greenhouse gas emissions.

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • mds

    Nice update, thank you!

    “On track for delivering commercial prototypes in 2014 and expect to ramp to full commercial roll out 2015 and beyond”
    Sounds promising.
    Cell size is smaller than I expected. I’m curious to know why.

  • Steve Antal

    I’m not sure battery systems are the answer to energy storage. Methane fuel cells can directly convert chemical energy into an electric current while sequestering carbon. I’ve been producing energy in this fashion several years. It would seem storing fuel for a fuel cell to convert would be more cost effective.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If you start with a MWh of electricity, convert it to methane and back into electricity via a fuel cell how much of that original MWh do you get out?

      (I’m assuming no energy inputs other than the MWh that goes in the front end.

  • JamesWimberley

    As an aside, you mention Sadoway’s involvement in low-carbon processes for steelmaking. Please keep an eye on this, and on the other hard nuts, cement, shipping and aviation. These all need radically new pathways. In contrast, renewable electricity is now a matter of rollout and incremental efficiency gains rather than fundamental technical challenges, though genuinely new stuff would be a bonus. We are almost in the same position for land transport.

  • MikeSmith866

    In his TED presentation, David Sadoway had departed from Lithium Ion to Magnesium-Molten Salt – Antimony. These elements are more abundant in nature (“almost as cheap as dirt”) and should help reduce prices. I read the Ambri story at http://www.ambri.com/ and it appears that the materials have changed but there are no details. Bill Gates and others are investing in Ambri (see http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/12/us-energystorage-california-insight-idUSBRE97B05T20130812 )

    Here’s another company (A123) that seems to be staying with Lithium Ion for grid size battery storage http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/a123s-grid-scale-storage-business-lives-on It is now being funded by a Chinese Company Wanxiang. They have sold a grid scale battery to Hawaii.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks. :D

  • Ross

    Nice to get an update – will continue to hope.

  • Matt

    Looking at their graphic these are going to be heavy. A “core” (22 cubic ft) is 2.5 tons. The AESS is 30′X16′X8′ and weight 200 tons (181,436 kg) just for the cores. The max for a 40ft container is 30,480 kg (with container). I guess they will ship the cores and assemble them into a AESS on site. Maybe the weight pushed them out of going with standard container sizing.
    Based on the hint of a commercial prototype above, looks like we will have to wait another year to start to see something “real” out of them. Still hoping!

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