Google’s newest moonshot company thinks the future’s batteries are made of… salt

Google’s X moonshot factory launched a new company called Malta that uses molten salt to store energy from a variety of intermittent and regular sources.

Google’s mysterious moonshot factory, X, delivered its most recent crazy business yesterday: Malta Inc., a company that builds energy storage systems out of molten salt.

Google’s newest moonshot company thinks the future’s batteries are made of… salt

The company launched with $26m of funding from some of the world’s most high-profile investors, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Ray Dalio, and Masayoshi Son. 

Is salt our savior?

There’s a lot more science behind your favorite table shaker than you may realize: Molten salt can store energy generated from intermittent energy sources (including solar and wind), so that they can be used later.

As renewable energy sources become more popular, these types of storage solutions are becoming increasingly important: Tesla is working on building lithium-ion Powerwalls to solve the energy storage problem, and other companies are also developing salt-based solutions.

Shares in one of Malta’s salty competitors, a company called SaltX, dropped more than 7.9% after the announcement.

The moonshot factory is growing up

Malta is graduating from Google’s secret incubator just a few months after Loon, the Google spinoff that uses stratospheric balloons to deliver internet to rural areas. 

Earlier X companies include Waymo, Google Glass, Wing, and several smaller companies that haven’t realized widespread commercial success.

But since Google launched its moonshot factory publicly in 2015, it has gradually shifted its focus away from true ‘moonshot’ ideas (which may or may not be financially viable) and toward companies that can can make an immediate financial impact — like Malta.

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