Curiosity Creates: Sustainable Energy


A cleaner way to power our world

[David Bradwell]

Cleantech entrepreneur David Bradwell, Sc’05, knew early on in his education that he wanted to engineer a better world. Today, as the coinventor of a groundbreaking clean energy technology, he and his company are working to transform the energy sector and help solve some of our biggest energy problems.

David Bradwell is the co-founder, chief technology officer, and senior vice president of Ambri. He co-invented the company’s technology — the liquid metal battery — while studying as a graduate student at MIT.

Ambri’s liquid metal battery cells feature liquid metal and salt components. Cells operate at elevated temperatures that are maintained by the heat that is released during charging and discharging processes. The battery operates silently, is emissions-free, and has no moving parts. Cells avoid the common failure mechanisms of other batteries, enabling them to operate for decades with minimal loss of storage capacity. They also cost a fraction of traditional energy systems.

“We are using commonly available materials and have taken an innovative approach to create this new type of battery that is both cost-effective and longlasting,” says David. “It can respond to grid signals in milliseconds, and is designed to turn sustainable renewable resources, such as wind and solar, from intermittent and unreliable electricity producers to on-demand generators.”

[people standing around battery]
Ambri’s liquid metal battery

Ambri’s technology will also be used in other powergrid applications, such as peak shaving, frequency regulation, and voltage support. The company has attracted significant investment, including from Bill Gates, and is currently in the development and verification phase, with a goal to move to commercial production within a couple of years.

David was already engaged in corporate social responsibility while at Queen’s — in fact, a discussion with a participant at one of the conferences he helped organize helped him realize his passion for developing more efficient and “greener” energy systems. “I knew that I wanted to use my science skills to make a difference in the world, and this was a way to do it. My Queen’s experience prepared me for my graduate studies at MIT, where I began working on solutions to problems that really matter to me.”

“To really make an impact, we need to go beyond the research and commercialize our discoveries,” says David. “Clean technology is vital to transforming our energy sector, and to ensuring sustainable, low-cost, and efficient electrical systems for our future.”