Natrion is engineering a large-scale battery technology called System6 that make solar power safe and cost-effective for widespread use in homes, businesses, and the military. System6 is an innovative solid-state sodium-ion battery chemistry that eliminates the risk of fire through intrinsically stable materials and cuts production costs by 40% as compared to leading lithium-ion batteries. Natrion is working towards launching System6 as soon as 2023 to facilitate the widespread implementation of solar power across numerous energy verticals.
Currently, we're two years out fr om pilot phases of System6 at military bases in Guam and Afghanistan wh ere we would test 50kWh-600kWh trailer-mounted units with collapsible solar panels. At the same time, we hope to be demoing 16kWh civilian System6 modules with solar installers in New York and the American Midwest. 16kWh System6 is on track to be launched the following year in 2023.
Within the more immediate timeframe, we're currently finalizing the chemistry of our System6 battery pouch cells. Although we have a pouch cell MVP, we're working with the lab of Dr. Hao Liu at Binghamton University to use a new sodium-metal-silicate material that would further improve battery durability and lifespan. We should have this new chemistry finalized by June of this year, at which point we'd be ready to put together a small-scale assembly line for battery pack development and manufacturing feasibility testing.
Natrion initially intends to build System6 for US Army and Air Force forward operating bases, which will be a $3.2 billion sector by 2025. Meanwhile, on the civilian side, Natrion will target an initial segment of residential and commercial customers in New York City and New York State's Southern Tier, as well as over 600,000 farms in the American Midwest. From there, Natrion will proceed to target other civilian verticals for a total addressable sector worth $14.4 billion by 2025.
Problem or Opportunity
52% of all US military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan occurred during enemy attacks on the diesel fuel convoys that supply power generators at American forward operating bases. Diesel is an enormous logistical nightmare for the Defense Dept. that comes with not only a huge human cost but also financial cost. Each of America's 700 forward operating bases across the globe require an average of 22 daily truckloads of fuel everyday, which equates to $20 million in diesel costs per base per year. Portable solar arrays can theoretically replace the need for diesel. So why doesn't solar work in practice?
Reliable solar power requires the integration of large batteries that could store excess electricity when it is produced for use at night or during periods of diminished sunlight. However, leading lithium-ion batteries are made with highly volatile liquid components that can boil and explode from simple overheating or mechanical damage.
Thus, not only has the Dept. of Defense banned lithium batteries, but so too have many American cities such as New York (despite the fact that there are over a half million customers in New York willing and able to switch to solar).
Solution (product or service)
Natrion's System6 solid-state sodium-ion battery technology uses an innovative new ceramic solid electrolyte to completely eliminate any risk of fire. This new material is already commonly used at high purity in the paper and cosmetics industries and is thus available for a mere $60/ton. Combined with the cost efficiencies afforded by the use of sodium instead of lithium (sodium is 32x cheaper than lithium), System6 is over 40% more affordable to produce on a cost-per-kWh basis than lithium-ion batteries, as System6 costs $91/kWh while lithium remains at >$150/kWh.
Natrion intends to produce System6 as trailer-mounted and SKID-mounted (for airlift) units for the US military that would provide 10 hour duration for portable solar installation. This long duration would ensure sufficient power capacity for uninterruptible power supply in even the harshest climates.
Meanwhile, civilian 16kWh System6 modules of approximately 135L could be mounted in basements, exterior walls, interior walls, garages, etc. for households, businesses, and farms. This product would be ideal for rooftop solar, solar gardens, and other smaller scale installations. The larger the solar array, the more modules could be combined.
16kWh System6 would be available to consumers for just $3,000 after installation. In comparison, leading lithium-ion products such as the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem RESU currently provide no more than 13.5kWh for no less than $7,000 in installation costs. Thus, 16kWh System6 will not only be of inherently improved safety, but would also shrink breakeven timelines for solar + battery systems from a current average of 18 years to less than five years. More consumers than ever before would be able to not only afford solar, but also profit off of it. Thus, Natrion envisions System6 to not only be the Ford Model T of batteries, but also a highly profitable product, as it would only take $1,060 to produce per unit.
Current battery based energy storage products exist in the civilian space, with the most notable examples being Tesla's 13.5kWh, $7,500 Powerwall and LG's 10kWh, $7,000 RESU.
Advantages or differentiators
As mentioned previously, System6 would not only be a much more affordable product than market leading solutions, but it would also be the only product able to access markets such as New York and other where there are strict fire restrictions. In addition, System6 would be the first and only battery to meet the safety and durability parameters of the US military.
Natrion is currently pre-revenue, but if System6 were produced today it would cost just $91/kWh to manufacture. By our 2023 launch, we should be able to manufacture for $66/kWh and sell battery packs at a wholesale price of ~185/kWh for a roughly 50% margin.
On the civilian side, we're building out a network of local New York solar installers and electricians to bundle System6 with their existing solar products. This way, these local businesses will be able to buy System6 wholesale and market and install and offer financing packages.
On the military side, we're working through the Defense Dept. SBIR pipeline to simultaneously help fund R&D while also working towards Phase III military contracts.
Money will be spent on
- 40% cell assembly line
- 20% battery pack development
- 20% labor
- 12% testing and validation
- 8% overhead
Offer for investor
$1.25 million on convertible note at $12 million valuation.
The majority of Natrion's difficulties in going to market will likely be technical risk and capital requirements. Though sodium-ion batteries are analogous to lithium ones, it is so novel and different enough that there are just a handful of manufacturers capable of producing sodium batteries. Natrion has partnered with AMTE Power, a UK-based company that is building the world's first sodium battery gigafactory. AMTE's hope is to allocate a quarter of its capacity to Natrion's cells, but we are still undergoing manufacturing feasibility tests.
Simultaneously, safer lithium-ion technologies should be hitting the market by 2030 as companies like Toyota and other make advancements for electric vehicles. However, it is unlikely that these technologies can be as affordable as System6 as they still use lithium instead of sodium.
Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment
Illinois iVenture Accelerator
Southern Tier Koffman Incubator
New York State Clean Energy Incubator
Utility patent on the solid electrolyte and its use in sodium-ion batteries.