The MIT spinoff, which hopes to differentiate itself with a novel chemistry and inexpensive mechanical systems, is testing a small-scale five-kilowatt prototype. It projects that a full-scale system, which it expects to make in 2015 or 2016, will cost under $300 per kilowatt-hour, or less than half as much as the sodium-sulfur batteries now used for multihour grid storage.
Sun Catalytix CEO Mike Decelle says one advantage of the company’s technology is that it uses cheap ingredients. “We’re sourcing some this stuff really, really cheaply in ton quantities [from China] right now,” he says, standing in a doorway so the names of the chemicals are not readable to a visitor. “That’s where you’ve got to source and the kind of quantities you need.”