The New York Energy Authority, the nation’s largest state-owned electrical utility, simply put in an uncommon battery at its headquarters. The 50 kilowatt/250 kilowatt-hour battery is not outstanding for its dimension, however for its promise of a design that may eradicate hearth threat.

Startup Cadenza Innovation has labored since 2012 to create a battery during which a malfunction results in “a service occasion as an alternative of a disaster,” within the phrases of founder and CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud. That job took on new urgency when a grid battery in Arizona exploded in 2019, critically injuring 4 firefighters.

Even earlier than that accident, lithium-ion batteries have had a status for catching hearth, most notably within the type of exploding client electronics. However the inherent dangers of storing a lot vitality in such small packages has additionally led to differing ranges of restrictions for stationary vitality storage programs, notably within the dense environs of New York Metropolis. 

New York state desires to put in three,000 megawatts of vitality storage by 2030 on the best way to a totally carbon-free electrical system. The facility sector more and more views batteries as a vital device for managing extra unstable, renewably powered grids, as evidenced by the record-smashing storage deployments in the newest quarter. 

However New York Metropolis Fireplace Division has imposed particularly strict hearth security necessities for batteries being put in within the state’s largest electrical load pocket. Whereas batteries put in outside or in specifically designed enclosures have been allowed, guidelines towards indoor installations have restricted battery development within the metropolis thus far, regardless of a transparent want for emissions-free energy within the metropolis.

Even the place lithium-ion batteries are allowed indoors, extra hearth suppression and area necessities add prices and issues. If Cadenza’s NYPA challenge performs as promised, it might enable batteries to be slotted into the nooks and crannies of the city panorama, with out concern of fiery repercussions.

“It exhibits the start of probably what vitality storage will appear to be,” Lampe-Onnerud, former CEO and founding father of lithium-ion battery supplier Boston-Energy, mentioned in an interview this week. “It’s an enormous step up from the place the business was.”

Constructing a fireproof lithium-ion battery

The corporate’s “supercell” design packs 24 jelly roll cells right into a fireproof ceramic fiber housing with quite a few security measures to intercept fires and forestall them from spreading. Cadenza vetted it for electrical automobiles utilizing grant funding from the Division of Power. The NYPA set up in White Plains, N.Y., beneath development now and slated to be totally operational by yr finish, shall be Cadenza’s first discipline check for stationary grid storage purposes. 

Cadenza’s supercell makes use of a number of layers of superior supplies to intercept battery fires and forestall them from spreading. (Graphic courtesy of Cadenza Innovation)

The $three million challenge drew monetary assist from NYPA itself in addition to the New York State Power Analysis and Improvement Authority (NYSERDA), an company that is selling vitality storage growth as a part of the state’s decarbonization efforts. Along with internet hosting it and utilizing it, NYPA will research the operations to guage future deployments. The set up follows an preliminary vetting course of, which included efficiently passing UL security testing.

“That is one which we thought was very promising — we needed to be the primary to check it,” mentioned NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones. “If we have been uncertain about this, we wouldn’t put it in our headquarters.”

Knowledge from the machine will movement to NYPA’s working middle, and shall be made accessible for different energy sector teams concerned with fireproof batteries, together with the Electrical Energy Analysis Institute. The companions already acquired and integrated suggestions from the White Plains Fireplace Division, and can proceed sharing knowledge with them and with New York Metropolis officers, mentioned Alan Ettlinger, NYPA’s director of analysis, expertise growth and innovation.

“Something that may cross the New York Metropolis Fireplace Division, you’ve acquired the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ there,” he mentioned. 

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