среда, 2 августа 2017 г.

A step into the future - Skeleton Technologies raises €13 million for its graphene ultracapacitor

Meet the SME Instrument Innovators
Graphene has been heralded to revolutionise high-tech industry thanks to its ground-breaking physical and mechanical properties. Since it was discovered in 2004, the wonder material has attracted interest from industry across the board, but its potential has so far reached few concrete applications on the market. SME Instrument champion Skeleton Technologies has cracked the challenge and found an application for graphene in its high-power ultracapacitors.
Ultracapacitors are high-power energy storage devices with more than 100 times increased power density across more than a million life-cycles, compared to the best battery technologies. Skeleton technologies’ devices are the only ultracapacitors to use a patented graphene-based material in their manufacture, allowing them to deliver twice the energy density and five times the power density of their competitors.
"The most important factor of ultracapacitor performance is the carbon electrode, which stores the energy", explains Taavi Madiberk CEO at Skeleton technologies." Its capacitance – ability to hold charged ions – and conductivity largely determine the amount of energy the ultracapacitor can store and the amount of power the capacitor is able to produce. Skeleton’s technological edge largely stems from a graphene-like carbon technology. Unlike the competition, that uses organic sources (charred coconut shell) as a precursor for the carbon, Skeleton synthesizes the graphene-like carbon from metal carbides."
Satellites and road freight
The company graphene-based ultracapacitators are already used in a series of products such as hybrid trucks, cars and buses, wind turbines, power grids, and even satellites. Earlier this year, the company announced a project partnership to develop the next generation of airships for industrial cargo applications with the French firm Flying Whales. This follows Skeleton Technologies developing high-performance ultracapacitor solutions for a European Space Agency project; the world’s first hybrid Kinetic Recovery System (KERS) for road freight vehicles; and, Engine State Module (ESM) for trucks.
But the company sees renewable energy as one of the biggest potential markets for ultracapacitators. Energy storage is a key element when it comes to using renewable energy sources. The unparalleled storage capacity of ultracapacitators would be a solution to the storage needs of renewable energies.
Targeting the mass market
With its powerful combination Skeleton Technologies has recently secured a total financing of € 26.7 million. In a new investment round the company raised € 13 million with Malaysian, FirstFloor Capital and its previous investors UP Invest and Harju Elekter. "FFC was interested in the advantages coming from our material and its further developments – one of which is directly linked to the SME Instrument grant – realised the potential of the material and approached Skeleton in January. After a long and detailed due diligence period FFC decided to invest and the deal was closed in July", says Madiberk.
The Round C of investment will help Skeleton Technologies bring graphene ultracapacitors from high-end sectors to the mass market. Skeleton Technologies will also use the new investment to optimise electrode and cell design to allow for higher capacitance and working voltages. These developments will unlock the full performance capabilities of the company’s unique graphene-based material, known as carbide-derived carbon.
SME Instrument innovator
In November 2015 Skeleton Technologies were selected for an SME Instrument Phase 2 grant. "SME Instrument has helped mitigate the risks of undertaking wider and more ambitious development efforts, besides the obvious financial support SME instrument serves as a certain seal of excellence for the company and potential partners", says Madiberk. The project that is financed under the grant is geared towards the scale-up of the graphene-like carbon production. The scale-up process involves the development of a next generation larger reactors with significantly larger single batch sizes which will drive down the cost. The development will be carried out in cooperation with a chemical industry partner to reduce regulation risks and avoid capital expenditures to auxiliary equipment. 
Skeleton Technologies already received a Phase 1 grant and passed through the tough selection for Phase 2. "Not counting the intense competition with other applicants, the SME instrument application document and all project related paperwork and payments, are considerably more streamlined than in the previous EU research and development framework programmes. The difficult part of the application process is crossing the t-s and dotting the i-s in the web user interface", remembers Madiberk. "SME instrument is the closest public incentive to a private investment and despite the intense competition the effort of thinking plans through will not go to waste. If you want to succeed it´s best to treat it as a classical investor business plan and the rest will follow".
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