Molten salt batteries, especially liquid metal batteries, are increasingly gaining interest from the energy community as a grid energy storage solution for renewable energy sources. Combining high energy and power densities, long life times, and low cost materials, they have the potential to meet the unique demands of grid scale energy storage. A molten salt battery is a class of battery that uses a molten salts electrolyte. The components of molten salt batteries are solid at room temperature, allowing them to be stored inactive for long period time. During activation, the cathode, anode and electrolyte layers separate due to their relative densities and immiscibility. The molten salt layer in the middle serves as an electrolyte with a high ionic conductivity, and is the medium through which the ionic species travel as the battery charges and discharges.
In China, the major players include Sesse-power (a joint venture company of Shanghai Electric Group and Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China), and Hefei institute of physical sciences, Chinese academy of sciences).
Currently the molten salt battery market size is very small in China. Chinese local players have not the mature technology and difficult to expand market due to high cost and high-risk.
The mature technology is mastered by the players from Japan and United States, like NGK, Ambri and Sumitomo. NGK is the largest player of Molten Salt Battery in the world. NGK currently runs a line of successful grid storage NaS batteries and is considered the world’s largest grid-scale battery supplier serving North America, Asia, and Europe. Each 1 MW x 6 MWh standard battery system contains 20 modules capable of supplying 50 kW AC in an operating temperature range of 300-350 °C.
In terms of technology, the sodium-sulfur battery is being dominated the global market and will hold the leading position in next five years. Liquid Metal Batteries have good prospect and big market space, but it has not commercialized successfully. We tend to think the Liquid Metal Batteries market can be commercialized within two years, and will increase rapidly in future.
Currently the Grid Energy Storage
is the most important application of molten salt battery. In the short term it’s difficult to use in electric cars. But we think electric car is a very important potential application in future, and will player an important role in future.