Oregon BEST has awarded follow-on funding to an Oregon startup and Oregon State University spinout that has developed a new clean technology that triples the life of redox flow batteries used for renewable energy storage.
The company, eChemion, has a chemical treatment technology that solves a major issue with flow batteries: degradation over time of the battery’s electrode array, or core, which is often made of carbon. This degradation requires battery makers to replace the core every few years, adding to the cost. eChemion has developed a treatment process that chemically coats the carbon core so degradation is significantly reduced, extending the core life by as much as three times, or up to 20 years.
“The innovation proposed by eChemion could significantly enhance profitability by extending the life of flow battery cell stacks,” said Tim Hennessy, President of Structured Energy Solutions an energy storage consulting firm. “I welcome the eChemion team’s efforts to establish their technology as a viable solution to one of the primary problems in the flow battery arena.”
In 2011 and 2012, Oregon BEST made two grants totaling $93,000 to support OSU research that eventually led to the birth of eChemion as an OSU spinout. Eighteen months ago, Oregon BEST invested $75,000 in the project to fund bench-scale testing of the technology and build customer interest.
Since then, Interest in energy storage has exploded, and eChemion has doubled in size. The startup has attracted a growing number of interested customers, with several engaged in testing the eChemion technology on their battery products.
“Oregon BEST’s bet on eChemion was spot on,” said Bill Kesselring, CEO of the company. “Early assumptions have come true, and the market is moving extremely fast toward energy storage. Local and national governments are talking about it, and eChemion is moving in the right direction by providing technology that makes a future powered by renewable energy viable.”
Oregon BEST’s follow-on funding of $175,000, alongside other angel investments, will support pilot-level testing at OSU, enabling third-party validation of the technology and optimization of the treatment chemistry with the goal of securing a series A round of financing and scaling up the treatment. The company is working with OSU professors Michael Lerner and Alexandre Yokochi and has additional funding from the OSU Venture Development Fund.
“This is a great example of how Oregon BEST¹s funding for promising university research can ultimately lead to the formation of a new startup company in Oregon,” said Ken Vaughn, Director of Commercialization Programs at Oregon BEST. “We’re pleased to be able to award this follow-on investment to help take this energy storage technology to the next level and eventually to the energy grid.”
The company will have its technology on display at Oregon BEST FEST, the Pacific Northwest’s premier cleantech innovation conference, on September 8-9 at the World Trade Center in Portland, Ore.