The humble battery has arguably never been more important. Smartphones, laptops and a host of other devices, including a growing number of electric cars, rely on them.
But some believe the basic energy-storage technology hasn’t advanced as far as it should, given how many devices depend on it. That’s where a fledgling Dayton-area company might come in.
MilesAhead Energy is a business developing and commercializing solid-state batteries to power electric vehicles and even electric aircraft. The company last month was named the winner of the Early Risers Academy tech cohort pitch competition, walking away with a $1,000 grant.
“It’s huge,” MilesAhead co-founder Luis Estevez said in an interview. “For me, it’s a validation of what we can do together as a team and how we can sell our idea.”
Early Risers Academy is a business-building bootcamp organized by Parallax Advanced Research on behalf of Launch Dayton, a group of resource business services providers in Dayton.
MilesAhead founders Yuxing Wang and Estevez, both former scientists at the University of Dayton Research Institute, believe the promise of their basic idea is solid. Getting there, however, will take hard work, resources and probably a bit of luck.
“We’re pretty early stage, I would say,” Estevez said when asked if they had a prototype. “A lot of what we’re doing is based on Yuxing’s work, and he has over 10 years of solid-state battery experience behind him.”
Wang has “figured out basically how to make these various components in these systems work together, which is a non-trivial thing.”
While they don’t have official prototypes, the pair do have solid-state batteries in an early format that Wang developed in his own research. “There needs to be some more tweaking, some more development to get to what we really want, which is fast-charging,” Wang said.
“It’s more than a concept, but not a fully developed prototype yet,” Estevez said. “We’re in between.”
Today’s liquid-based lithium ion batteries — the type used in Tesla automobiles, for example — dominate this market segment. MilesAhead’s battery technology is based on what the founders say is next-generation solid-state technology they think offers advantages in charging speed, performance and safety.
The potential stretches from electric cars to aircraft, NASA missions and the defense industry.
Like a lot of new companies, the founders need capital. The business intends to offer research and development as a service for government and private clients.
Wang and Estevez credit Eric Wagner of Converge Ventures for crucial “step-by-step” guidance on developing a business plan.
Said Wang: “We now feel confident about pitching our startups to investors, customers, and partners.”
“We are proud to support the Dayton region’s founders and their cutting-edge innovations,” said Dennis Andersh, Parallax president and chief executive. “Getting research from people like Wang out of the lab and into the market paves the way for a better world.”