INEXPENSIVE ENERGY STORAGE FOR A CLEANER GRID
Antora Energy is building a low-cost thermal battery for grid-scale energy storage. By combining inexpensive thermal storage media at high temperatures with high-efficiency thermophotovoltaic energy conversion, we will support the widespread integration of renewable resources on the electricity grid.
David Bierman, Justin Briggs, and Andrew Ponec founded Antora Energy to build inexpensive grid-scale energy storage by combining their experience in cleantech research, development, and commercialization. They are motivated by their shared passion for energy and climate to commercialize this key missing piece in the clean electricity puzzle.
David Bierman earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT, where he helped develop a novel solar-driven thermophotovoltaic converter capable of turning heat into electricity by absorbing thermal radiation using a photovoltaic cell. This innovation helped revitalize the field and was featured in a number of media outlets, including Scientific American and IEEE Spectrum.
Justin Briggs holds a B.S. in physics from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. During his Ph.D., Briggs studied next-generation renewable energy technology, with a focus on thermophotovoltaic energy conversion. He built a thermo-optical characterization platform to study the optical properties of advanced thermophotovoltaic materials at temperatures over 1200°C, and grew and validated novel materials for selective thermal emission.
Andrew Ponec received his B.S. in energy systems engineering from Stanford University, where he researched advanced photovoltaics and power electronics. Between his sophomore and junior year, Ponec took a leave of absence to found a solar energy company called Dragonfly Systems. Dragonfly developed and commercialized a novel power electronics topology for utility-scale solar power plants, and was acquired by SunPower in 2014. Ponec led his team through concept generation, prototyping, validation testing, and manufacturing, and eventually oversaw the installation of over 10 MW of solar power plants that used the technology.
The Antora Energy team is committed to transforming our energy system to one that is sustainable, secure, and accessible.
The team’s work is supported by Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, the National Science Foundation, the DOE FLOW program, and a DOE ARPA-E award under the Duration Addition to electricitY Storage or DAYS program.
Wind and solar are poised to meet the global need for clean, safe, inexpensive energy, but the intermittency of these resources poses a critical challenge: Excess electricity is curtailed when wind and solar production exceeds demand, while electricity reliability is threatened when production falls short of demand. Energy storage systems can address this challenge by smoothing out the power supply from renewables.
Today, grid-scale energy storage is dominated by pumped hydroelectric installations, which provide storage at low cost but are geographically limited. Lithium-ion batteries are improving quickly, but materials sourcing challenges, high cost floors, and short cycle life limit them to short-duration applications. Other technologies, including new types of electrochemical cells, compressed air, hydrogen, flywheels, and electromagnetics, suffer from geographic, safety, or cost limitations. In short, there is a critical need for cheap and scalable energy storage.
We are developing an extremely inexpensive thermal energy storage system. With a marginal cost of energy capacity of < $10/kWh, our thermal battery will take excess electricity from wind and solar power plants, store it for hours or days, and deliver it back to consumers when needed. By storing energy as heat in extremely inexpensive raw materials and converting that heat back to electricity with a high-efficiency thermophotovoltaic heat engine, our energy storage system costs are low enough to make intermittent renewable energy, plus storage, cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
Potential for Impact
Inexpensive energy storage will enable the widespread deployment of wind and solar energy, thus ensuring cheap, sustainable, and reliable electricity on a global scale while dramatically reducing carbon emissions.
Antora Energy is Looking for...
Joint development partners
Team members - scientist, engineers
Team members - business, interns
antora [dot] energy [at] gmail [dot] com