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Woodside tops up investment in 1414 Degrees project


Australian oil and gas giant Woodside Energy has invested a further $750,000 in a silicon thermal storage project run by Adelaide-based 1414 Degrees.

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The embattled 1414 Degrees, which listed on the ASX in September 2018 and has seen its share price deteriorate since, said the funding takes total investment in its SiBox Demonstration Module (SDM) project to $4.95 million, including $2.2 million from the Federal Government.

In total Woodside has invested $2.75 million into 1414’s project, which the company said was “now operating autonomously, showcasing its flexibility to meet a range of industry needs by operating with constant flow rate at outlet temperatures ranging up to 900 degrees Celsius”.

The SDM is an extension of 1414’s proprietary silicon thermal energy research, whereby energy can be stored thanks to silicon’s high-temperature storage density “with a smaller footprint, without need for constant power input”.

1414 Degrees’ technology stores energy generated from electricity or gas as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon. Energy can then be supplied as heat and electricity in the proportions required by consumers.

Woodside’s investment is contingent on “the completion of specific milestones by the company”, and following validation of the SDM technology Woodside “will consider options for both technology infusion and potential pathways for commercialisation”.

“Over the next 12 months, we anticipate that SiBox will emerge as a pivotal emissions solution for industrial sectors that manufacture the infrastructure of our societies and electricity generation,” 1414 degrees chairman Dr Kevin Moriarty said.

“With financial support from Woodside and the Australian Government Modern Manufacturing Initiative, we are well-positioned to facilitate industries’ transition to lower carbon energy by providing high capacity high-temperature heat, addressing their unique challenges of high temperature, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.”

Chief technology officer Dr Mahesh Venkataraman said SiBox demonstrated “that our tech has the potential to abate emissions in carbon-intensive industries and has been recognised by Woodside for our progress in achieving technical milestones”.

“We have now successfully completed a key milestone in the validation of SiBox and will continue to test this technology for industrial applications,” he said.

Woodside first invested in 1414 Degrees back in October 2021, at the time noting it would contribute up to $2 million subject to project milestones being met. The group secured its Modern Manufacturing Initiative grant shortly after.

In May 2022, 1414 lost its CEO Matthew Squire who resigned after less than a year into the job. Prior to that, Jamie Summons resigned as managing director in June 2021.

Squire was replaced on an acting basis by Dr Jordan Parham on 1 July 2022. He also resigned just three months into the job and is yet to be replaced.

In July this year, the company raised $4.6 million from shareholders “to accelerate product development for commercialisation of the company’s SiBox and SiBrick products”.

Shortly after, the company announced its full year results for FY23 which showed the company only generated $115,386 in income over the 12 months. Less than a month later, the company announced chairman Dr Moriarty would get a boost to his annual salary to $200,000, up from $120,000.

Most recently, 1414 Degrees posted its results for the September quarter, in which chairman Dr Moriarty said the period “has been productive for your company and our progress toward generating revenue”. The company reported it had $2.068 million in cash – up $119,000 from the previous quarter.

The firm’s woes stem from a share price collapse in June 2020 following a review which showed its technology was less efficient and reliable than previously forecast.

The technical and commercial status review ordered by Dr Moriarty found its prototype silicon storage technology could not sustain many cycles without degrading.

It also found that its third-party energy recovery system (ERS) could not perform to the required efficiency specifications.

At the time, the company also announced that SA Water had completed its business case evaluation of 1414 Degrees’ biogas-powered thermal energy storage system at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant and advised the company it had been unsuccessful with the current evaluation process.

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