Though there hasn’t been much progress in integrating aviation into the automotive industry, it has long been a dream to zoom through the clouds alongside other airborne automobiles, or whatever they may be called.
The era of flying cars may now be much closer thanks to new battery technology developed by cleantech startup Nanode. The batteries can also be used in many earthbound applications.
Although Nanode’s headquarters are in Edmonton, Canada, the company’s COO, Brian Worfolk, a PhD and postdoc in chemical engineering who is one of the innovators behind Nanode’s technology, is based in the Triangle. On March 29–30 in RTP, he will present Nanode to investors at CED’s Venture Connect summit.
The startup is developing a next-generation high-capacity tin anode for lithium and sodium-ion batteries that can double the amount of a battery’s functionality, and in turn, expand what a battery is capable of doing.
“With our technology, you could really rethink how batteries are formed,” Worfolk said. “A whole new era in battery technology will be made possible by it.”
Aviation and drone manufacturers seeking to increase battery efficiency are among Nanode’s current customers in large numbers. By doing so, cutting-edge technology, including flying cars, might become more feasible.
In September of last year, Nanode released its first product. The company is now trying to sell its technology to battery makers, primarily in North America and Asia.
“We work with our customers, they test their samples, they give us some feedback, and we iterate to make better products for them,” he said.
Every customer has different requirements, so Nanode works with them to adapt its battery technology to the desired product.
In graduate school, Worfolk began to examine the global energy mix and investigate renewable energy sources, which is when his interest in cleantech first emerged.
“I thought this is a really important societal problem to solve,” he said.
In his process of “digging deeper” into lower-emission technologies, he discovered how well battery technology pairs with electricity generation.
In the cleantech sector, Worfolk spent ten years creating solar and battery technology. Before starting his business career in November 2022 with the founding of Nanode, he worked specifically on engineering the materials used in Apple iPhone batteries.
Currently, Nanode aims to raise a seed round and looking to attract more investors. Although Nanode’s technology is state-of-the-art, he claimed that raising funding has been difficult.
According to Worfolk, it can be challenging to secure investments for cleantech because the road to significant revenue is frequently long. Investors may find other tech startups’ quicker revenue growth more alluring than the five years it might take a cleantech startup to start making money, he continued.
“That’s always a challenge,” Worfolk said. “And it makes perfect sense. But you need a bridge for these companies to really get past that point.”
He mentioned that he’ll be searching for grants and funding possibilities at the Venture Connect summit.
Worfolk stated that in addition to more funding, he would like to see more reasonably priced lab space in the region and stronger government support for commercializing cleantech ideas.
“As more technologies and companies grow, the cleantech space is going to attract more investors in this area,” he said. “I would really like to see the Triangle emerge as a cleantech hub in ten years.”
Worfolk said starting Nanode has come with many highs and lows, but he is motivated to expand clean technology.
He said if he could give one piece of advice to his past self he would say, “be prepared, be patient, and get ready for a thrilling ride.”