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Energy storage startup licenses ORNL battery tech – News – Oakridger – Oak Ridge, TN

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Energy storage startup SPARKZ Inc. has exclusively licensed five battery technologies from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory designed to eliminate cobalt metal in lithium-ion batteries.

Energy storage startup SPARKZ Inc. has exclusively licensed five battery technologies from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory designed to eliminate cobalt metal in lithium-ion batteries.

The advancement is aimed at accelerating the production of electric vehicles and energy storage solutions for the power grid, according to a news release from ORNL.

The licensed technologies include cathode materials, a novel electrolyte formula and a scaling process that will together enable industrial scale production of more sustainable, fast-charging cobalt-free batteries.

Cobalt is a rare, costly and difficult-to-access metal that increases the performance but reduces the safety of lithium-ion batteries found in consumer electronics, such as mobile devices, and in electric vehicles, or EVs. The metal is specifically used in a battery’s cathode, the positively charged end that determines much of a battery’s performance.

“However, because cobalt is costly and mined overseas, finding alternative materials has become a top priority,” the release stated.

“Moving forward to an electrified world with millions of electric cars, cobalt is not sustainable,” said Ilias Belharouak, a group leader in ORNL’s Energy and Transportation Science Division in the release.

A report by the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance predicted battery demand is expected to increase to around 14 times 2018 levels of 184 gigawatt hours, or GWh, to more than 2,600 GWh in 2030, according to a report by the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance. Of that growth, a large majority is projected to take place in the mobility sector, a main focus of the licensed technologies.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory is pleased to license this suite of advanced battery technologies to support efficient, affordable energy storage for electric vehicles,” said Moe Khaleel, associate laboratory director of ORNL’s Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate in the news release. “Our scientists push the boundaries of what’s possible with materials science and process engineering. By working with industry partners such as SPARKZ Inc. we can help accelerate the transition of these technologies to the marketplace for the greatest societal impact.”

SPARKZ Inc. is evaluating a location for a research and development and prototyping facility in the U.S. to scale these technologies to meet the demands of customers in the mobility and grid sectors.

“We have chosen Oak Ridge National Laboratory to be our partner because ORNL provides all those functionalities which are essential to get a product rapidly to market; namely, access to the world’s best battery technologists, or human capital; access to the best technology, or intellectual capital; and access to the best infrastructure,” SPARKZ Inc. CEO Sanjiv Malhotra said in the release.

SPARKZ Inc. licensed ORNL-developed technologies including:

• High energy density secondary lithium batteries

This high-density lithium battery design uses novel cathode and anode compositions to overcome energy density limitations of existing technologies for more efficient rechargeable batteries.

• Cobalt-free layered oxide cathodes

This low-cost, cobalt-free cathode material was created for the development of improved lithium-ion batteries.

• Nonaqueous electrolyte with lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide salt for fast charging/discharging of Li-ion batteries

Electrolytes are the liquid medium by which cathodes and anodes “talk” to each other in batteries by exchanging electrons. This new electrolyte formulation allows faster charging for lithium-ion batteries and can perform at a 23% higher capacity during a 12-minute charge than other formulas.

• Early transition metal stabilized high capacity oxidatively stable cathodes of lithium-ion batteries

This innovation improves on lithium-ion cathodes by replacing early transition metals, namely cobalt, at relevant sites in cathodes, and by varying the lithium composition.

• Battery materials scale up and processes

This manufacturing innovation enables industrial-scale production of battery materials through a series of chemical processes.

“The hallmark of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s technologies is developing low-cost, cobalt-free cathode materials without compromising on energy density,” said Jagjit Nanda, a principal investigator on several of the licensed technologies, who works in ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division in the news release.

Energy density, or the amount of charge that a given quantity of a material holds, is especially important for EVs. Fast-charging, energy dense batteries developed by ORNL and scaled by SPARKZ could allow electric charging stations to take over as the “gas stations of the future.”

“I look at this as a very strategic partnership,” Belharouak said in the release. “It will establish ORNL as the ‘engine’ around energy storage research in the Southeast region.”

In 2019, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office selected the ORNL-SPARKZ partnership for the DOE Lab Investment Incubator Activity, which focuses on maturing lab-scale technologies for commercialization.

The partnership was also selected in 2019 for a $750,000 DOE Technology Commercialization Fund project, “Enabling Cobalt-Free Battery Solution for Behind-the-Meter Storage.”

SPARKZ Inc., was founded in 2019 by Sanjiv Malhotra, who has worked as a scientist, an entrepreneur, a venture capitalist and in the public sector, including as the first ever director of DOE’s Energy Investor Center. He founded methanol fuel cell company Oorja Protonics, Inc., in 2004, which he sold to a private equity firm in 2014.

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Ed-tech startup Unacademy raises new funds, now valued at $510 million, Technology News, ETtech

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Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Education technology startup Unacademy has raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic, at a post-money valuation of $510 million.

Existing investors Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital and Blume Ventures also participated in the round, apart from investments by Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Udaan co-founder Sujeet Kumar in their individual capacities.

Unacademy, which focuses on preparing students for competitive exams, said it would utilise the money to increase the number of competitive exams it currently services, bring top educators onto its platform and improve the quality of content.

“We started to monetise around a year ago, and in the first month, we made around Rs 2 crore in revenue, and last month we did around Rs 18 crore. So, we’ve grown 9X in 12 months and we plan to continue growing from here,” said Gaurav Munjal, cofounder and CEO of Unacademy.

Unacademy says it has over 90,000 active subscribers who log in to be tutored via livestream by 10,000 educators on its platform. The company also hosts video tutorials on YouTube, which it says receives over 150 million monthly views and acts as a funnel in bringing learners onto its platform.

“Unacademy’s mission of enabling educators across disciplines to reach the widespread aspiring student community across the country is inspiring. Its live classes platform disrupts and democratizes the learning process in an unmatched manner, with more than 18 million students who engage with the company’s content,” said Shantanu Rastogi, Managing Director, General Atlantic.

Munjal added that 70% of its learners come from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, where there is a lack of access to top educators. The plan is to add more languages, more teachers and more exams into the mix, just as it added NTA, UGC and CSIR examinations into its fold recently.

Currently, Unacademy has content catering to 32 competitive examinations. The company said some of its older courses have become profitable at a unit level, but it is solely focused on growth and adding new subscribers, for now.

“With this investment…we are reinforcing our commitment to the Indian startup ecosystem as well as investing in a company that is transforming learning in India,” said Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook India.

The investment makes Unacademy one of the most highly valued ed-tech startups in India, after giant Byju’s which is valued at $8.2 billion. Byju’s has also raised capital from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation.



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Top tech startup news for today, Wednesday, February 19, 2020: Lyft, Citi, Nokia, Self, Limio | Tech News

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Good morning! Below are the top tech startups news for today, Wednesday, February 19, 2020.

Lyft resumes shared electric bike rentals in New York City. Electric Citi Bikes return after being pulled for safety issues. Lyft announced Wednesday it will roll out a fleet of several hundred electric bikes for rent across New York City, ten months after it pulled them following complaints and injury reports. “A few hundred” pedal-powered e-bikes will hit city streets Wednesday morning, after which there will be a “gradual” increase to “thousands” by sometime this summer, said Citi Bike general manager Laura Fox. Lyft, which owns the bike rental program, pulled the entire e-bike fleet last April after oversensitive front brakes sent some riders flying off their bikes.

Austin-based fintech startup Self nabs $20M Series C funding to help people build their credit history while also saving money. Self, an Austin, Texas-based fintech startup offering people a way to build their credit while also saving money, announced it has raised $20 million round of Series C funding to accelerate its company growth by hiring additional members of the team and investing in marketing and product development to improve overall customer success, building even further on rapid growth in 2019. The round was co-led by Altos Ventures and Conductive Ventures. Founded in 2015 by Conor Swanson and James Garvey, Self is a leading fintech startup with a mission to help people build credit and savings. Starting at just $25 per month, Self is helping thousands of people begin their financial journey with a credit builder account.

Malaysian tech startup is offering AI-based profiling of Chinese visitors for virus. MYEG Services Bhd, a Malaysia-based tech startup, announced today it had developed a coronavirus risk-profiling system for visitors from China and was offering the artificial intelligence-based service to the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines. The news system creates a health-risk profile using a person’s historical geolocation information and other parameters. MYEG has partnered with Beijing-based travel agency Phoenix Travel Worldwide for the project. The fully-automated system analyses a “vast number of available data points, including visitors’ previous known whereabouts as well as heart rate and blood pressure readings crossed-referenced against public transportation ridership and exposure to locations with incidences of infections,” MYEG said in a statement.

Nokia is acquiring optical networking tech startup Elenion. Finnish telecom networks maker Nokia announced Wednesday it has agreed to acquire privately-held New York-based tech company Elenion Technologies to boost its optical networking business and broaden its offering to telecoms operators. The value of the acquisition was not disclosed. Founded in 2014, the New York-based Elenion designs and develops highly integrated System-on-Chip optical engines for Telecom, Data Center and Networking applications. The company is focused on driving innovation in silicon photonics technology. Built around world-class multi-disciplinary experts in silicon photonics, lasers, electronics and advanced packaging, Elenion is developing next-generation photonic integrated circuit technologies and solutions for a broad range of datacom and telecom applications.

London-based startup Limio raises about $0.5M in pre-seed funding to offer a no-code subscription commerce platform. Limioa London-based tech startup that is solving this problem by helping businesses to acquire and retain subscribers, announced today that it has raised $421,000 (£325,000) to continue to develop its no-code Subscription Commerce platform. The funding came from 15 angel investors including co-founder and CEO Amaury de Closse. Other backers include Michael Pennington (Gumtree), Matt Clifford (Entrepreneur First), Scott Sage and Krishna Visvanathan (Crane VC). Founded in 2017 by CEO Amaury de Closset (formerly of GoCardless) and Daniel Morton (Zuora, Three), Limio is a no-code Subscription Commerce Platform, enabling you to operate your subscription business with extra speed and at a lower cost. Our Platform includes Content Management System (CMS), Product Information Management (PIM), Digital Asset Management (DAM) capabilities specifically made for subscriptions, enabling your marketers to get to market new shops, campaigns and promotions faster than ever. No IT, no developments.


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