R&D Breakthroughs

Our technology is made possible by a critical technological breakthrough pioneered by founder and CEO Dr. Asegun Henry and his research team at MIT. Prior to 2016, the idea of pumping liquid metal above 2000C would have been deemed science fiction, because pumps typically rely on seals made from polymers and there are no polymers that can survive at such high temperatures. However, Dr. Henry and his team developed another way of sealing, which allowed them to demonstrate all ceramic and/or graphite circulation loops for liquid metals like tin and silicon at extreme temperatures beyond 2000C. Their first demonstration of pumping liquid tin at 1400C is in the Guinness Book of World records as the highest temperature pump on record, and they have since demonstrated pumping above 2000C. This technological breakthrough is the foundation the thermal battery is built on.

High efficiency thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells

High efficiency thermophotovoltaic cells

The second innovation the thermal battery relies on is high efficiency thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells. The TPV cells used in the thermal battery were invented and pioneered by collaborators at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). For almost 40 years, the highest efficiency TPV cells that had ever been demonstrated had an efficiency of 29%. Recently, this world record was increased several points to 32% by the use of new and innovative approach to making a high reflectivity mirror on the back of the cells. However, most recently, TPV cells made at NREL and tested at MIT, demonstrated a new world record 42% efficiency. This new breakthrough in TPV efficiency paves the way forward for the cells needed in a thermal battery, as the target of 50% efficiency is within reach with further improvements to the mirror reflectivity.