Eli Paster SM ’10, PhD ’14 is the CEO of PolyJoule, a startup working to reinvent vitality storage know-how to extend effectivity and scale back prices.
The transition towards a extra sustainable, environmentally sound electrical grid has pushed an upsurge in renewables like photo voltaic and wind. However one thing so simple as cloud cowl could cause grid instability, and wind energy is inherently unpredictable. This intermittent nature of renewables has invigorated the aggressive panorama for vitality storage corporations seeking to improve energy system flexibility whereas enabling the mixing of renewables.
“Affect is what drives PolyJoule greater than the rest,” says CEO Eli Paster. “We see impression from a renewable integration standpoint, from a curtailment standpoint, and in addition from the standpoint of transitioning from a centralized to a decentralized mannequin of energy-power supply.”
PolyJoule is a Billerica, Massachusetts-based startup that’s seeking to reinvent vitality storage from a chemistry perspective. Co-founders Ian Hunter of MIT’s Division of Mechanical Engineering and Tim Swager of the Division of Chemistry are longstanding MIT professors thought of luminaries of their respective fields. In the meantime, the core crew is a small however extremely expert assortment of chemists, manufacturing specialists, provide chain optimizers, and entrepreneurs, a lot of whom have known as MIT house at one level or one other.
“The concepts that we work on within the lab, you’ll see became merchandise three to 4 years from now, and they’re going to nonetheless be revolutionary and effectively forward of the curve once they get to market,” Paster says. “However the ideas come from the foresight of pondering 5 to 10 years prematurely. That’s what we’ve got in our again pocket, because of nice minds like Ian and Tim.”
PolyJoule takes a systems-level method married to high-throughput, analytical electrochemistry that has allowed the corporate to pinpoint a chemical cell design based mostly on 10,000 trials. The result’s a battery that’s low-cost, secure, and has an extended lifetime. It’s able to responding to base hundreds and peak hundreds in microseconds, permitting the identical battery to take part in a number of energy markets and deployment use instances.
Within the vitality storage sphere, attention-grabbing applied sciences abound, however workable options are few and much between. However Paster says PolyJoule has managed to bridge the hole between the lab and the true world by taking business issues into consideration from the start. “We’ve taken a barely contrarian view to the entire different vitality storage corporations which have come earlier than us which have stated, ‘If we construct it, they’ll come.’ As an alternative, we’ve gone on to the shopper and requested, ‘In case you may have a greater battery storage platform, what wouldn’t it seem like?’”
With business enter feeding into the thought processes behind their technological and business deployment, PolyJoule says they’ve designed a battery that’s cheaper to make, cheaper to function, safer, and simpler to deploy.
Historically, lithium-ion batteries have been the go-to vitality storage answer. However lithium has its drawbacks, together with price, questions of safety, and detrimental results on the surroundings. However PolyJoule isn’t serious about lithium — or metals of any form, in reality. “We begin with the periodic desk of natural components,” says Paster, “and from there, we derive what works at economies of scale, what is straightforward to converge and convert chemically.”
Having an inherently safer chemistry permits PolyJoule to save lots of on system integration prices, amongst different issues. PolyJoule batteries don’t comprise flammable solvents, which implies no added bills associated to fireside mitigation. Safer chemistry additionally means ease of storage, and PolyJoule batteries are at present present process world security certification (UL approval) to be allowed indoors and on airplanes. Lastly, with excessive energy constructed into the chemistry, PolyJoule’s cells might be charged and discharged to extremes, with out the necessity for heating or cooling techniques.
“From uncooked materials to product supply, we look at every step within the worth chain with an eye fixed in direction of lowering prices,” says Paster. All of it begins with designing the chemistry round earth-abundant components, which permits the small startup to compete with bigger suppliers, even at smaller scales. Contemplate the truth that PolyJoule’s differentiating materials price is lower than $1 per kilogram, whereas lithium carbonate sells for $20 per kilogram.
On the manufacturing facet, Paster explains that PolyJoule cuts prices by making their cells in outdated paper mills and warehouses, using off-the-shelf tools beforehand used for tissue paper or newspaper printing. “We use tools that has been round for many years as a result of we don’t need to create a cutting-edge know-how that requires cutting-edge manufacturing,” he says. “We need to create a cutting-edge know-how that may be deployed in industrialized nations and in different nations that may profit probably the most from vitality storage.”
PolyJoule’s first buyer is an industrial distributed vitality shopper with baseline vitality consumption that will increase by an element of 10 when the heavy equipment kicks on twice a day. Within the early morning and late afternoon, it consumes about 50 kilowatts for 20 minutes to an hour, in comparison with a baseline price of 5 kilowatts. It’s an software mannequin that’s translatable to a wide range of industries. Assume wastewater therapy, meals processing, and server farms — something with a fluctuation in energy consumption over a 24-hour interval.
By the top of the 12 months, PolyJoule can have delivered its first 10 kilowatt-hour system, exiting stealth mode and including business viability to demonstrated technological superiority. “What we’re seeing, now’s huge quantities of vitality storage being added to renewables and grid-edge functions,” says Paster. “We anticipated that by 12-18 months, and now we’re ramping as much as meet up with among the greater gamers.”
Written by Daniel de Wolff