Energy Mentor Network company Electro-Active Technologies featured in Waste360

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council runs the Energy Mentor Network in partnership with Launch Tennessee. Its goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Electro-Active Technologies, an EMN company and Innovation Crossroads graduate, was recently featured in Waste360 for its zero-carbon, alternative fuel product. 

In the Waste360 article, Electro-Active Technologies’ Co-Founders Alex Lewis and Abhijeet Borole discuss how they use food waste combined with electricity to create clean hydrogen, a renewable source of energy that could cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel by up to 34%.

“In simplest terms, we use electrons and protons from food, which have electric charges, to make hydrogen,” Lewis told Waste360. 

Read the rest of the Waste360 article about Electro-Active Technologies here. To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network, along with its companies and mentors, follow this link

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Middle Tennessee Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable highlights private-public partnerships, transportation electrification initiatives

Stakeholders from government agencies, higher education, and the private sector emphasized the value of the state’s advanced energy economy and opportunities for future development and collaboration

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) hosted its second Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable, this time focused on Middle Tennessee stakeholders. The event brought together 10 speakers representing three main areas of the state’s advanced energy (AE) economy: government agencies, higher education, and the private sector.

Government Agencies

David Salyers, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), kicked off the event by speaking about the value of EV adoption for the environment and economy, along with the TN Corridor Fast Charging Network, a new partnership between TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

“We strongly support the goal of becoming the number one state in the country for the EV supply chain,” said Salyers. “We are committed to providing a cleaner, safer environment, and are supportive of more efficient modes of transportation that can reduce emissions, improve air quality, decrease transportation-related energy costs, and drive economic plus job growth across our state.”

Representing the federal perspective, Chris Berryman, Senior Target Market Specialist at TVA, discussed the wide-reaching economic impacts EVs can have on the state’s economy from the EV manufacturing project to the supply chain. He also discussed the effects of EVs on the utility sector and on TVA in particular.

“TVA, along with its State Economic Development Partners, are currently working on approximately $25 billion of new EV manufacturing projects,” said Berryman. “These projects are considering the TVA’s seven-state region along with other competing States in the Southeastern U.S. This equates to a potential job creation of approximately 35,000 new jobs.”

Next, Van Tucker, Chief Executive Officer of Launch Tennessee, spoke about the organization’s many network partners, including the statewide entrepreneur centers and the Energy Mentor Network, run by TAEBC in partnership with LaunchTN. She also provided an update about the restoration of State Matching Funds for federal SBIR/STTR grant recipients across the state.

“Those funds are important because federal funds are restricted as to how those dollars can be spent,” said Tucker. “The State Matching Funds are unrestricted and can be used for things like hiring a business development officer, launching a website, or even hiring an attorney to secure your IP. As a company, you’re able to use those funds that really help grow and scale a business.”

Wrapping up the government agency portion of presentations, Victoria Hirschberg, Director of Business Development at Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), spoke about TNECD’s mission to make the state a leader in the EV supply chain and referred to the sector as a “very fluid and active.”

“There is a lot going on in our state and I’m really proud to be part of it,” said Hirschberg. “I think as we continue to build out this network and talk to companies that are interested in doing business, having meetings like this is so important.”

Higher Education

Both Flora Tydings, Chancellor of Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and Claude Pressnell, President of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA), returned for the second Business Roundtable to discuss higher education’s role in the AE sector.

Tydings provided an overview of TBR’s mission, AE programming, and how TBR received an additional $80 million from the state’s budget to increase what the system is doing with technical education, reduce the technical education waitlist, and look directly at what they are doing in the AE sector.

“We are always looking toward the economic development of our state,” said Tydings. “We are dedicated to making sure we place students. Right now, our rate for placement is at 89 percent. So, if you graduate from one of our programs, 89 percent of our students have received a job immediately after graduation in their field of study.”

Following Tydings’ presentation, Pressnell gave an overview of TICUA campuses and students, various public-private partnerships across the state, and engineering programs that were created to specifically meet the needs of local employers.

“The focus on science, the focus on technology is pretty critical to us. We rely very heavily upon corporate advisory committees to be able to shape our curriculum so that we can meet the needs of local and statewide employers,” said Pressnell. “We are very responsive to the corporate needs in the area.”

Private Sector

Moving into the private sector portion of the webinar, Jim DeMouy, Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability at Bridgestone Americas and TAEBC Board Member, highlighted Bridgestone’s environmental mission and key milestones, along with renewable energy goals for its operations, products and technologies. DeMouy also highlighted two of the company’s environmental milestones it is set to reach by 2030.

“One is to increase the recycled and renewable content of our products to 40% by 2030,” said DeMouy. “The second was to move to an absolute emissions reduction, which again goes to the energy discussions we’re having here, by 50 percent by 2030.”

Finally, two representations from Nissan Group of Americas closed the presentation portion of the event. Chris Goddard, Manager of Energy and Environmental, and Mike Clemmer, Director of Corporate & Manufacturing Facilities and Environmental, presented about Nissan’s efforts to accelerate toward carbon neutrality and electrification, including EVs, battery innovations, intelligent factories, and a greener energy supply.

“Like a lot of companies, earlier this year, globally, we made the announcement to be carbon neutral by 2050. If you look at just Tennessee operations, we have improved our efficiency by close to 40 percent,” said Goddard. “And we’re very excited about the electrification of our fleet.”

Following presentations, speakers answered a range of audience questions on building up the infrastructure of the state’s AE economy, EV supply chain efforts, private-public partnership, workforce development, and recent electrification updates across the state.

“It was really exciting to join TVA earlier this year by trying to remove some of the barriers to adoption,” said Commissioner Salyers about the launch of the TN Corridor Fast Charging Network and future EV initiatives.

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Innovation Crossroads Deep-Tech Showcase featuring Cohort 3

On June 3, 2021, seven innovators from Cohort 3, with technologies ranging from nanotechnology to waste-to-energy conversion, will pitch their company’s technology, present their progress over the past 2-years, and project what the future has in store for their growing company. Register to attend here.

Dan Miller, who leads the Innovation Crossroads program, will give a program overview and engage Q&A with Cohort 2 Alumni on how Innovation Crossroads helped their companies’ development.

Additionally, an innovation panel featuring leadership from ORNLTennessee Valley Authority, and the Clean Energy Venture Group will talk about the future of energy, sustainability commercialization, and growing the hard-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Opportunities to contact the companies and to learn more about future events and application dates will be given at the close of the event.

Companies Pitching:

  • American Nanotechnologies – American Nanotechnologies, Inc. (ANI) is developing material processing technology for purification of high-value nanomaterials.
  • Electro-Active Technologies, Inc. – EAT is developing a modular system for converting food waste and electricity into low-cost, green hydrogen.
  • Endeavor Composites, Inc. – Endeavor Composites is designing and implementing an innovative mixer system for the hydroentanglement process that offers several advantages over the current fiber dispersion techniques.
  • Grid Fruit – Grid Fruit uses artificial intelligence (AI) and data to keep food fresh while reducing the energy needed for commercial refrigeration. The technology simultaneously procures savings for food retailers and provides grid services for electrical utilities.
  • MantaPoole Technologies – MPT is developing a roll-to-roll, manufactured, active multispectral light field (AMLF) micro-optics architecture for applications including autonomous surgery, industrial manufacturing, robotic farming, and real time robot vision.
  • Neptune Fluid Flow Systems – Neptune Fluid Flow Systems is developing an advanced thin film cryogenic sample preparation device designed to substantially improve sample preparation for the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) community.
  • Purist, Inc. – Purist’s focus is developing a technology to be implemented in existing nuclear reactors to produce medical-grade radioactive ingredients. These radioactive ingredients are time-sensitive materials used daily to treat and diagnose life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

Tennessee’s 2021-2022 Budget restores SBIR/STTR Matching Fund

SkyNano Technologies praises restoration of funds that will help advance its core technology 

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is pleased to announce Tennessee’s 2021-2022 Budget included $7,000,000 in non-recurring funding for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Fund. 

This SBIR/STTR Matching Fund restoration would not have been possible without the hard work of Launch Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and other key stakeholders across the state.

“The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council applauds the General Assembly and Governor Bill Lee’s allocation of $7 million in funding for the SBIR/STTR Matching Fund,” said TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper. “TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy. One of our commitments to our members is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups, such as those in our Energy Mentor Network program. The restoration of the SBIR/STTR Matching Fund is essential to helping us meet this goal.”

Anna Douglas, Co-Founder and CEO of SkyNano Technologies, an Innovation Crossroads and Energy Mentor Network graduate, was instrumental in highlighting the need for these funds for innovative entrepreneurs in the region. Earlier this year, Douglas penned an Op-Ed in the Knoxville News Sentinel and an open letter to her state representative, highlighting her need for the SBIR/STTR Matching award. SkyNano received an SBIR Matching grant in 2020 and was counting on the restoration of these funds to support the development of its technology and cover the cost of necessary expenses that were not covered by the SBIR/STTR program.  

“We are relieved and excited that the SBIR/STTR Matching program funding has been restored in the state budget,” said Anna Douglas, Co-founder and CEO of SkyNano Technologies. “The SBIR/STTR Match program helps businesses like SkyNano thrive in the state and continue to pull in more federal SBIR/STTR funding to continue creating jobs for talented Tennesseans.” 

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Energy Mentor Network graduates secure funding to advance technologies

Active Energy Systems receives an SBIR Phase II Award, while Nth Cycle secures $3.2 million in seed funding

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee. Its goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Two of our graduates have recently secured funding to advance their technologies.

Active Energy Systems received an NSF SBIR Phase II Award

Active Energy Systems graduated from the Energy Mentor Network in 2019. The startup invented the world’s first “icephobic coating,” which creates a surface impervious to freezing water. It recently received an NSF SBIR Phase II Award to unleash the potential of water as a thermal energy storage medium for building air conditioning.

This funding will allow Active Energy Systems to create Icephobic Heat Exchange (IHEX) technology eliminating the adhesion of freezing water to cold surfaces, preventing ice buildup on the coil and realizing the power of water for low-cost, high efficiency, resilient building cooling.

Nth Cycle secured $3.2 million in seed funding

Nth Cycle graduated from the Energy Mentor Network in 2020. The startup is developing a system to cost effectively recycle lithium-ion batteries to recover the high-value metals. It secured $3.2 million in seed funding to scale its technology for battery recycling for sustainable mining. This funding will allow Nth Cycle to execute their technology roadmap and deploy several pilot projects with recyclers and mine operators early next year.

Nth Cycle was also featured in Waste360 where CEO Megan O’Connor stated, “We can process in a cost- and environmentally effective way compared to standard, existing methods. We can reduce operating costs by 75 percent and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent [determined using a Department of Energy battery recycling model].”

Learn more about the Energy Mentor Network, its companies, and mentors here

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