The first order for a ground-breaking new battery type has been placed between two British companies.

Midlands-based renewable energy and battery specialist AceOn has placed an initial order for 1,000 next generation sodium-ion cells with battery pioneer AMTE Power.

The companies have teamed up to deliver one of the world’s first solar-powered energy storage units to bring electricity to remote sub-Saharan African communities.

The innovative AceOnPES (portable energy storage) power unit will run on sodium-ion battery cells produced by AMTE.

The AceOnPES can bring clean, affordable and sustainable power to some of the poorest and most remote regions in the future. It can be used for primary or back up power generation and is ideal for areas where the electricity infrastructure is not reliable, or it is insufficient to meet local needs, such as parts of Africa, India and Australia.

Last year AMTE announced that it had entered into partnership with Sheffield-based Faradion to develop its Ultra Safe product, which uses Faradion’s patented sodium-ion technology.

The wide availability of sodium compared to the metals required in more conventional lithium-ion cells creates the opportunity for wider and cheaper battery manufacture – helping to meet demand for greater production rates required for energy storage systems that will support a transition to renewable power.

Ultra Safe is under development at AMTE’s existing facility at Thurso, Scotland, while AMTE simultaneously progresses plans for its new UK Gigafactory.

Mark Thompson, managing director of Telford-based AceOn, says the new battery chemistry can make global electrification more sustainable.

“The battery industry is reliant on rare earth minerals like lithium and cobalt, which are finite in supply. Sodium is abundant and greener to extract, so we are working together with AMTE to be their first customer to successfully commercialise sodium-ion.

“We’ve been championing sodium-based technology for years as a sustainable alternative to lithium-ion, and thanks to our partnership with AMTE, we can finally use it in our products starting with the AceOnPES and later making it part of our standard battery ranges for OEMs. These batteries are the future.”

New battery technologies are the focus of the Faraday Battery Challenge, where Mark Thompson sits on the advisory board.

Kevin Brundish, CEO at AMTE Power, said: “Our work with AceOn represents a further step in our commercialisation of differentiated cells that will power the energy transition. Sodium-ion has huge potential for application in energy storage where there is a need to dramatically scale-up production of safe, stable battery technology alongside the growth of renewables.

“The UK has long been a pioneer in new battery technology and partnerships like ours underpin the opportunity for the UK to be the driving force in the development of sodium-ion.”

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