UNIGRID Battery: UC San Diego Spin-Off Secures Major Orders for Advanced Sodium-Ion Batteries

UNIGRID Battery’s Milestone

UNIGRID Battery, a spin-off from the University of California, San Diego, has achieved a significant milestone by receiving its first commercial MWh-scale purchase orders for their advanced sodium-ion batteries. Founded in 2021, the company is rooted in the pioneering Ph.D. research of Dr. Darren H. S. Tan and Dr. Erik A. Wu, under the guidance of Professors Zheng Chen and Shirley Meng, who are well-known in the battery field.

UNIGRID’s Market Opportunity and Product Innovation

UNIGRID has identified a substantial market opportunity in North America’s residential energy storage system (ESS) market, particularly for behind-the-meter applications similar to Tesla’s Powerwall. The company’s first-generation cylindrical cell is a response to a massive market gap that current battery technologies cannot fill. CEO Darren H. S. Tan emphasizes the appeal of sodium-ion batteries as a less expensive and safer alternative, free from the uncertainties of the lithium supply chain.

Technological Advancements in Sodium-Ion Batteries

The company’s innovative approach includes using a tin anode instead of hard carbon, significantly enhancing the volumetric energy density of sodium-ion batteries. This advancement makes them competitive with, and in some cases superior to, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. CTO Erik A. Wu highlights the advantages of the tin alloy anode in sodium-ion batteries, overcoming common failure modes found in silicon-based batteries.

Preparation for Market Delivery and Future Prospects

UNIGRID’s advanced sodium-ion batteries have undergone third-party testing and validation, and the company is on track to deliver MWh quantities to customers in 2024. The team is ramping up production in San Diego, California, to meet the growing interest and demand.

UNIGRID’s Vision for Sodium-Ion Batteries in Energy Transition

Professor Shirley Meng, a key advisor and co-founder, notes the significant potential of sodium-ion batteries in strengthening the U.S. grid’s resilience and expects them to become an essential appliance in every home. The UNIGRID team believes that sodium-ion technology will play a crucial role in the clean energy transition, complementing the progress made by lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles and portable devices.

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