Nuclear research leads to breakthrough in
grid-scale storage of solar and wind energy
Research in molten salts at Danish company Seaborg Technologies intended for molten salt nuclear reactors leads to breakthrough enabling low cost, grid-scale energy storage. The company has developed a method to control corrosion of the otherwise highly corrosive sodium hydroxide.
Backed by the investment of EUR10m+ from current shareholders, Seaborg has launched a sister company, Hyme Energy ApS, to commercially pursue energy storage.
The goal is to build a pilot plant within the next 18 months.
The first commercial facility is expected to be under construction within three years .
“Our mission in Hyme is to bring inexpensive, large-scale high-temperature energy storage to the
market in significant quantities to help solve the challenges of fluctuating solar and wind energy.
Thermal energy storage can be key in stabilizing the energy grid to enable a constant supply of
energy and accelerating the deployment of wind and solar,” says CEO in Hyme and co-founder of
both Seaborg and Hyme, Ask Emil Løvschall-Jensen.
The unique technology in Hyme is a method of chemistry control that holds the corrosion by
sodium hydroxide at bay. This technology was developed by Seaborg for its inherently safe next generation nuclear Compact Molten Salt Reactor. Hyme expects to be able to halve the price of
long-term and large-scale energy storage facilities independently of geographical constraints.
CEO and co-founder of Seaborg, Troels Schønfeldt, explains:
“Thermal energy storage with molten salts is not new, but as a technology it struggles
commercially due to the price of the so-called solar salts. Many alternatives have been
investigated, but normally no chemist in their right mind would look at anything as corrosive
as sodium hydroxide. However, in the development of our reactor, we needed to use sodium
hydroxide and were forced to develop these methods.”
Troels Schønfeldt continues:
“Somewhat counterintuitively, a breakthrough like this puts us in a pickle. On one hand, we cannot let it defocus Seaborg’s current mission to power regions with poor or no access to renewable energy sources through our Compact Molten Salt Reactor. But we also cannot simply shelve an opportunity to aid countries with access to renewables in accelerating this deployment. Thus, we decided to place the energy storage work into a sister company, so we can advance both at a fast pace. Science demands that we use every tool in our toolbox to combat climate change.”
Ask Emil Løvschall-Jensen says:
“We are pursuing the commercialization of hydroxides as the key component in large-scale
energy storage, and we are doing it in a separate company. This allows our new company,
Hyme, to focus on succeeding with energy storage while still leveraging the synergies that come
with collaborating with our sister company, Seaborg. Together, we can continue to pioneer the
development of materials and chemistry control for high-temperature molten salts.”
Molten hydroxide has excellent abilities when it comes to storing vast amounts of heat. A 1 GWh facility with sodium hydroxides can store enough energy to support around 100,000 households with electricity and heat for ten hours and requires no more space than the plot of a family house.
Sodium hydroxide is a commodity produced from seawater as a byproduct from chlorine production and comes at around 1/6 of the price of the current, standard salts used for storage. Hydroxides can contain more heat per salt unit, making it more efficient and reducing the amount of salt needed compared to current salt
uses. This reduces the cost of salt as a storage medium by approximately 90%. Hyme expects to be able to halve the price of long-term and large-scale energy storage facilities independently of geographical constraints.
Molten salt energy storage has the great advantage of being easy to scale in size, so it can be built to fit industry needs and for grid-scale storage for large wind and solar farms. The key technology enabler here is the chemistry control that limits the corrosion of structural materials in contact with the molten salt. The chemistry control is developed by Seaborg and is the core IP in the company. Hyme has been granted the rights to mature the concept and take it from the laboratory to a global market within energy storage.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Innovation Outlook: Thermal Storage,
2020), in order to meet the climate goals from the Paris Agreements,
the world needs the total capacity of thermal energy storage to triple from currently around
230 GW to more than 800 GW within the year 2030.
The name Hyme is a contraction of Hydroxide and to melt.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer: Ask Emil Løvschall-Jensen
Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer: Nis Benn
Chairman of the Board: Navid Samandari
Hyme develops energy storage solutions based on the use of molten hydroxides as storage
The company holds a long-term licensing agreement with Seaborg to use their key patents to
deploy hydroxide salts within the field of energy storage and energy conversion.
Hyme is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, but will be building a larger team with international
talent in the years to come.