Yara Marine X, the scrubber company’s start up accelerator arm, has agreed to assess investment potential for aluminium-air battery company Phoenician Energy during a six-month accelerator programme
Oslo-headquartered Yara Marine Technologies started its Yara Marine X programme in September 2020 along with Norwegian venture capital firm XY01. The programme offered a pool of applicants the opportunity to pitch ideas with the ultimate goal of access to Yara Marine’s resources to develop their technology and bring it to market.
Phoenician Energy, whose founder Udi Erell also uses the company moniker Phinergy Marine on his LinkedIn profile and company website, was awarded the position in the Yara Marine X accelerator programme.
“Phoenician Energy’s use of aluminium-air battery technology for the maritime industry triggered our scientists’ curiosity," said Yara Marine Technologies chief executive Thomas Koniordos. "Their container battery is especially interesting. The concept taps into several recent trends and developments, such as circular economy and electrification of marine vessels. We believe this technology may have an important role to play in a greener maritime industry for future generations."
By being awarded the spot in the programme, Phoenician Energy is entitled to use a US$10,000 ’selection fund’, has the option to relocate to Oslo (Covid-permitting) for the duration of the programme with living and office expenses paid, and attend a ’bootcamp’ with Yara Marine engineers to determine areas of improvement for the technology and business plan along with mentorship from Yara Marine and XY01.
Yara Marine X describes its six-month programme as including "fast piloting, go-to-market, development and network access", which offers the possibility of a US$150,000 investment from Yara Marine in return for a 10% stake.
The statement from Yara Marine said Phoenician Energy licenses aluminium-air battery technology and adapts it to marine applications. The company has already developed a 4.8-MWh system enclosed in a 20-foot shipping container.
“Charging an Al-air battery actually happens at an aluminium production plant. You may say that the battery consumes aluminium, the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Furthermore, the alumina generated from the aluminium in the battery, as it depletes, is a valued commodity. The alumina can be recycled back to aluminium at the aluminium plant, but it also has uses in other industries," said Yara Marine Head of Research and Development Jesper Hellström.
Comparing aluminium-air batteries to lithium-ion batteries, Mr Erell said the aluminium-based batteries have one of the highest energy densities of all batteries, with more than four times the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.
"Higher density means that longer ranges can be achieved, and a smaller footprint means more space for revenue-producing cargo. In addition, we do not recharge our system on board; instead, we replace it with a fully charged one, eliminating downtime that would be required for recharging conventional batteries. The consumed battery is then re-equipped with new aluminium and it is ready to go another turn. Furthermore, aluminium-air batteries do not lose capacity when not in use nor do they degrade over time. They are also inherently safe, with no danger of temperature runaway."
“We are excited to partner with a major player like Yara Marine Technologies. We hope to tap into their experience with engineering and procurement and their know-how on production and installation. This is a big step for us,” Mr Erell said.
A statement from Yara Marine said Phoenician Energy will be the first start-up to enter the Yara Marine X six-month programme in February, after which Yara Marine Technologies may choose to invest in the company and its technology.