A couple of days ago a previously quiet group called “Alevo” broke cover and announced that they have $1bn from anonymous Swiss investors which will go into turning an old cigarette factory into a battery manufacturing plant to rival Tesla’s Gigafactory for scale.

What caught my eye though was that the batteries they plan to produce are for grid storage, with lithium iron phosphate and graphite for the electrode materials and a “sulfur-based” (and presumably) solid electrolyte (maybe not the best choice for electric vehicles, since the energy density is probably relatively low). The most detailed article I’ve seen on the science and technology part of the story is here.

I think, on the scale of new battery stories, this one interests me – the quoted 40,000 cycle lifetime is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser and would be a real advance – if it turns out to be true of course. I wonder if going for such large-scale production means that they are betting on the economy of scale to make their technology competitive on price (incidentally, there is another good recent article here casting some doubt on the economic viability of batteries for grid storage at the moment).

The CEO of the company seems to have quite a mixed history with his investments, so it seems like quite a bold gamble… but considering their money is all apparently from private sources, I say good luck to them.

I suppose, given the CEO’s chequered past and the bold claims of their product, they are likely to be met with some skepticism. In the comments of the earlier GreenTechMedia article I found this – upvoted more times than any other comment:

The battery industry, going back literally centuries, has been full of con-artists and liars. The path from something on a lab bench (which this obviously is – at best) to a mass produced reliable product takes decades. Tesla was able to shrink that by using proven off-the-shelf battery technology. Nobody else in this space had met any of their claims – performance, price, volumes. None of it.

Maybe not so much skepticism but outright suspicion…

Postscript: Alevo went bankrupt in August 2017.