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What We Do
CarbeniumTec LLC is developing a new metal-free, all-organic battery for long-duration energy storage applications that will provide utility companies a solution to the urgent and growing need for electricity storage without the environmental impacts and safety issues of conventional batteries.Affiliated Institution: University of Colorado Boulder
Have we formed a company? Yes
Funding: Direct/Indirect University Support, Angel Funding (including Self or Friends/Family)
Our Company and the Problem We Are Trying To Solve
The integration of renewable energy is increasingly transitioning from goals to requirements in order to achieve zero-carbon emission in the decades to come. Due to solar and wind energy’s transitory nature, the successful deployment of renewable energy on large scale is tied to the development of efficient energy storage systems. Li-ion batteries are the most developed electrochemical storage technology at utility-scale, however they are best suited for four to six hours (4–6 h) storage. To achieve our society longer-term emission goals, longer duration energy storage of 8–12 h or more is needed. Recently, redox flow batteries (RFBs) — a battery in which the energy is stored in liquid electrolytes — have gained considerable focus to solve this issue thanks to their scalability and ability to decouple power and energy capacity. However, currently commercially available RFBs are aqueous and metal-based batteries. These technologies have two main drawbacks, their cost and their toxicity. We are developing an all-organic battery for the long-duration storage of renewable energy. Our technology focuses on metal-free, non-toxic, and inexpensive electrolytes for Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs), which overcome the limitations of conventional batteries (such as the Li-ion battery). We strive to develop a sustainable solution that addresses the increasing demand for electricity storage. The technology developed has been patented by Dr. Moutet and Dr. Gianetti through the University of Arizona in May 2020 (Provisional Patent Application) and converted in May 2021 (Patent Cooperation Treaty application), patent filing # PCT/US 29891, and will be filed internationally in October 2022.
Our Go-to-Market Strategy
The renewable energy market is growing quickly, and energy storage needs will grow accordingly. BloombergNEF reported that the global energy storage market will grow to a cumulative 942GW/2,857GWh by 2040, attracting $620 billion in investment over the next 22 years. Batteries as a segment for alternative energy storage was evaluated at over USD 1.1 billion in 2017 and is projected to be at USD 5.7 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 34%. Within these numbers, Li-ions battery are the majority. Global lithium-ion battery market size for energy storage was valued at USD 545.8 Million in 2017 and is projected to reach USD 3.4 billion by 2022. The flow battery market alone was evaluated at $230 million and estimated to reach $1 billion by 2023, with a CAGR of 32.7%. This market analysis is extremely promising considering that the current RFB are not cost competitive, and that Li-ions batteries are used for medium term storage but will not be used for the long duration storage needed for a full green energy conversion. It is therefore anticipated that the RFB market could grow significantly past 2023. In our technology, we use a single organic material as both anolyte and catholyte, in a so-called symmetric system, which is key to improving the performance, cyclability, and energy density of organic RFBs. Our venture will lead to an inexpensive, robust, environmentally sustainable technology for long-duration energy storage, which overcome the limitations of current RFBs and will attract interest from utility companies and battery manufacturer
How We Will Generate Revenue
We intend to commercialize the technology by selling it to grid operators worldwide. Commercial implementation of this technology will involve the design, engineering, and construction of modular systems that incorporate the novel organic electrolytes, electrochemical stacks, pumps, and controls. Know-how and capability exist commercially, and an enterprise can be formed with reasonable capital and scaled with market demand. The novel compound used for the electrolyte will be manufactured to our specification by a specialty chemical company. We are in the process of developing a business plan that will detail the technical resource and capital requirements required for profitable sales. To that end, our team enrolled in both the UArizona (Summer 2020) and national (Spring 2021) NSF I-Corps programs. These two NSF I-Corps programs have allowed us to develop entrepreneurial skills and to better understand who the ideal industry costumer might be thanks to the 150 interviews we have performed. Through these two experiences we have been able to understand more deeply the type of market we are addressing. It is clear that small communities and public institutions are not our core target. They prefer technologies that are already well proven and widespread, even though their costs are higher. On the other hand, large-scale energy producers are ready to dedicate a part of their R&D budget to initiatives such as ours. It appears that our main customer will be the public power utilities. Their energy transition portfolio requires large storage capacities over long periods of time, which current technologies cannot offer.
How We Will Benefit From Destination Startup®
Our technology is currently at a TRL 3/4 (Technology Readiness Level), which correspond to proof of concept, laboratory validation, and testing of prototype. Over the last 24 months, our team has received mostly research grants, industrial contract and asset development fund that have allowed us to translate our concept into a small battery prototype that is currently being tested. This work was develop under basic science research in our CEO’s research group at the University of Arizona. Since summer 2022, the research efforts are led in CarbeniumTec lab. To that end we have raised 120k from family and friend and are in the process to submit an NSF SBIR phase 1 grant for $270k of funding for 12months. The main goal for the year 2023 is to have a fully operational module scale prototype and to have drafted a process specification sheet to build the same system for a small commercial or pilot plant, which is a necessary step toward the commercialization of this technology. To accelerate our R&D and reach our goal we are seeking investments (angel and/or VC) of at least $600k up to $1.5M.
CarbeniumTec was created in June 2020 and is composed of three founders: Drs Jules Moutet, Philip Lacovara, and Thomas Gianetti. Dr. Gianetti, the chief executive officer of the company, is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona since 2017. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in chemistry and chemical engineering, and a Ph.D. in chemistry. He has published more than 30 research articles and filed 8 patents. Dr. Moutet, the chief technical officer of the company, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in organic chemistry, and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry. He has published more than 20 research articles and filed 2 patents. Dr. Lacovara, the chief operating officer and commercial manager of the company, he holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in physics. Dr. Lacovara has almost forty years of experience in transitioning technology developed in government, academic and industrial laboratories into advanced development and production. In addition, more than a dozen years ago he founded a company that installed multiple megawatts of commercial solar photovoltaic installations throughout Arizona. His company continues to manage projects under power-purchase agreements, so he brings a deep, practical understanding of renewable energy and a familiarity with utilities’ grid-management and renewable-energy practices. In April 2022, CarbeniumTec has been awarded the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) Sponsored Launch Fueled by Perkins Coie LLP sponsorship and received one sponsored year of admission at UACI, a startup incubator network with locations across the Southern Arizona region.