By Tim Hunt
Hopyard Road start-up announces potentially unlimited clean energyUploaded: Aug 25, 2020
Pleasanton-based NDB, Inc. today announced what could be a game-changing advance in battery technology—a battery powered by Carbon-14 with up to a 28,000-year life. That’s no typo—essentially unlimited life with no need for charging.
The firm, based on Hopyard Road, announced two proof-of-concept successes involving Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. The nano diamond battery uses radioactive isotopes to fuel its batteries. The isotopes are coated with layers of synthetic diamonds that isolate the isotopes and capture the electrons to power the battery. The diamonds are one of the hardest materials to break or damage. It involves proprietary nanotechnology to surround the isotopes.
The company was co-founded in 2018 by Nima Golsharifi and Sugura Amakuho, both holders of doctorate degrees with backgrounds in both academia and the defense industry. They had been researching in their respective areas of expertise for seven years before putting the company together.
“Our team is bringing together leaders in the nanotechnology, nuclear science and diamond fields with military, academic and research backgrounds, and combining our unique mix of expertise has made it possible for us to crack the code in developing this groundbreaking, life-changing solution,” said Golsharifi in the press release.
The potential uses are mind-boggling and potentially solve energy issues forever. Because their initial products will recycle spent nuclear waste, it also is taking care of that vexing challenge.
Imagine electric vehicles that run without needing a battery charge or a laptop or phone that never needs charging. They believe their technology will scale to virtually any use such as meeting the power needs of huge data centers or powering jet airlines. In our interview, CEO Golsharifi said there’s significant interest in the defense industry with aviation including vertical takeoff and landing as well as urban air mobility.
In the long term, they see applications in space travel including potential intergalactic missions. That will take a more efficient battery than their current technology that captures a 40% charge, a huge improvement over the 15% that today’s batteries capture. Given a never-ending life as well as emission-free operation, it’s a revolutionary technology that tackles climate change issues as well as the current reliance on fossil fuels.
The press release also announced two beta customers, a company focused on nuclear fuel cycle products and a leading global aerospace, defense and security firm. The company currently is developing the first commercial prototype that they plan to be available later this year. It also will launch its first funding round soon.
Although the headquarters are in Pleasanton, its leadership is located across the country and in England. In addition, they are working with academic researchers at Carnegie Mellon and MIT as well as universities in Europe. They said they wanted the Pleasanton location for two reasons: proximity to Lawrence Livermore and the Silicon Valley.
They are working on two components for their batteries—the power that would go into consumer electronics devices and propulsion and then a storage system connected with super-capacitors. The second system could make California’s rolling blackouts because of its reliance on wind and solar a thing of the past.
NDB has an impressive group of advisors including Sir Michael Pepper, considered the father of the semi-conductor and the winner of the Institute of Physics Isaac Newton Medal, at the University of Cambridge. He’s joined by Dr. John Shawe-Taylor at the University of London (UNESCO Chair), Professor Darrell Mann (former chief engineer for Rolls Royce) and Dr. Mihaela Ulieru (founder of the Impact Institute for the Digital Economy).
Shawe-Taylor was quoted in the press release, “: “NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations. Their technology’s ability to deliver energy over very long periods of time without the need for recharging, refueling, or servicing puts them in an ideal position to tackle the world’s energy requirements through a distributed solution with close to zero environmental impact and energy transportation costs.”
The company was a winner of the 2020 Orano International Startup call, a global startup competition that provided funding, visibility and connections with “key players” in the deep tech innovation network. It is part of the Alchemist Accelerator and a member of the PoliHub Innovation District and Startup Accelerator. Both organizations focus on innovative companies and to speed their technology to market.