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January 04, 2008



It seems fairly hard to find any technical information about this product. The most I could dig up was the following:
They claim substantially higher power density than standard Li ion batteries (several times), but at about half the energy storage density. It looks like they are targeting the space between current batteries, and ultracapacitors. Their sweet spot is battery discharge/charge times of a few minutes.

Assuming this is a power utility application, it would be used to balance out short term (a few minutes duration) power swings.


The price is excellent - $500/kw
At that rate it might even be viable for longer duration storage of a few hours, I would have thought - very useful for intermittancy.



Spot on. The NanoSafe chemistry is supposedly good to 10,000 cycles (at which point it still has 80% capacity) which means it could be fully charged and discharged once a day for rougly 27 years. Avoiding deep cycles would extend its life even longer than that. For fun:

Let's take the first scenario, 1 cycle/day, and assume that AES has variable rates for electricity (e.g. $.05/kWh off peak, $.20kWh peak).

Daily profit: 2,000kWh($.20kWh-$.05/kWh)=$300
Annual profit: $109,500 (~10% return, right between the ROA and ROE according to Yahoo Finance)
Life profit (27 years): $2,956,500

Start fiddling with higher peak rates and more daily cycles and the fiscal proposition starts to look pretty good. AES will probably be able to save money by running its generators more efficiently (won't have to throttle its coal fired plants as often, won't have to fire up diesel backups as often) and there are probably also fiscal incentives to having a more stable grid.


The price is excellent, but one has to consider that Altair might not be recouping its expenses in building (not even developing)such a battery.


The press release says that the system is a 2 megawatt system, not 2 megawatt-hours. If this were really a 2MWh system, then it would be an impressive achievement, as $500/MWh cost-competitive. However, nothing in the release gives the MWh number.


I'm not sure what else it can be, other than 2 MWhours.
I understand the distinction, I think, but am not sure it is apposite.


Actually, it can be 2 megawatts. Watts measure power, while watt-hours measure energy. If the battery system delivered can deliver power at 2MW, but runs out of charge in 10 minutes, then it only holds 333KWh of energy. If that's the case, then the cost comes in at $3000/KWh, which is a lot higher than other battery technologies.

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Nice article. Have you done any more?

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Are these battery packs being used at present?

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Is Altair still doing well? It seems like they were moving on an upward path.

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1 million for how many of these packs?

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How did the testing go, is it all good to go now?

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Good that they're doing this!

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Altairnano seems like a good company, I think I've heard of them.

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