A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: EnerG2, Seattle
Who: Rick Luebbe, 43, CEO
Mission: Design, create and manufacture high-capacity energy-storage components.
A green world: We depend on batteries, but energy-storage processes are often inefficient and environmentally unhealthy. Using ultracapacitors, the company has developed a storage material that works more cleanly and efficiently than standard batteries, without a chemical reaction.
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Backup strategy: The company hopes electronics manufacturers will use ultracapacitors containing EnerG2 materials to enhance the life and usability of consumer goods. It also hopes a variety of industrial customers will use them to deliver an increasing breadth of ways to improve energy efficiency.
Good news, bad news: Two clear advantages of this technology are its imperviousness to extreme temperatures and its ability to charge almost immediately. On the other hand, the batteries hold the charge for a short time, but that’s not a drawback, Luebbe said. “A normal battery takes hours to recharge, so you either have to change batteries or stop working,” he said. “Since we can recharge in seconds, a dead battery doesn’t slow you down.”
Juice bar: Some immediate uses for the technology are power tools, flashlights and small appliances. In some cases it will be used in conjunction with other batteries, such as holding a charge that will help start a car on a cold morning or providing the ancillary power to drive a flash for a cellphone’s camera.
Financials: The venture-funded private company just launched and has no profitability projections. It plans to eventually build the material itself and sell it for incorporation into consumer products, although its manufacturing location is yet to be determined.
Recycling: Today’s rechargeable batteries last a few years, if you’re very lucky. Ultracapacitors don’t ever wear out or lose their ability to charge, according to Luebbe. “A flashlight can recharge in 90 seconds and will never wear out,” he said. On a larger scale, the batteries can capture the kinetic energy generated by a moving train, storing enough juice to significantly reduce electricity use.
— Charles Bermant