The idea of speeding up clouds among other flying cars – or whatever they’re called – has been dreamed up for decades, but with little progress in actually bringing aviation into the automotive industry.
Now, with new battery technology developed by cleantech startup Nanode, the era of flying cars may be much closer. There are also many grounded applications for batteries.
Nanode is headquartered in Edmonton, Canada, but COO Brian Warfolk—a chemical engineering PhD and postdoc who is one of the driving forces behind Nanode’s technology—is based in the Triangle. He will pitch Nanode to investors at the CED Venture Connect Summit on March 29-30 in RTP.
The startup is developing a next-generation high-capacity tin anode for lithium and sodium-ion batteries that can double the battery’s functionality and in turn expand the battery’s capabilities.
“With our technology, you can really rethink how batteries are formed,” Warfolk said. “It will open up and enable a whole new generation of battery technology.”
Many of Nanode’s current customers include aviation and drone manufacturers looking to improve the efficiency of their batteries. This could make futuristic technologies like flying cars closer to reality.
Nanode launched its first product in September last year and is working to sell the technology to battery manufacturers located mainly in Asia and North America.
“We work with our customers, they test their samples, they give us some feedback and we iterate to make better products for them,” he said.
Each customer has unique needs, so Nanode partners with its customers to tailor the battery technology to their desired product.
Warfolk’s interest in clean technology began when he began analyzing the world’s energy mix and researching renewable energy while in graduate school.
“I thought this was a really important societal problem to solve,” he said.
In his process of “digging deeper” into lower emission technologies, he discovered how well battery technology meshed with electricity generation.
Worfolk spent 10 years in the cleantech industry developing solar and battery technologies. He specifically worked on designing the materials used in Apple iPhone batteries before starting his entrepreneurial journey with the creation of Nanode in November 2022.
Nanode is currently aiming to raise a seed round and attract more investors. Although Nanode’s technology is cutting-edge, he said attracting funding has been a challenge.
Securing investment for cleantech can be difficult because there is often a long runway for significant revenue, Warfolk said. The faster revenues of other tech startups, such as SaaS companies, can be more enticing to investors than the five years it can take for a pure tech company to generate meaningful revenue, he added.
“It’s always a challenge,” Warfolk said. “And it makes perfect sense. But you need a bridge for these companies to really cross that point.
He noted that he will be looking for grants and funding opportunities at the Venture Connect Summit.
Along with more funding, Warfolk said he would like to see stronger government support for bringing cleantech ideas to market and more affordable lab space in the area.
“As more technologies and companies grow, the cleantech space will attract more investors to this area,” he said. “In 10 years, I’d really like to see the triangle become a hotbed for clean technology.”
Warfolk said starting Nanode has come with many highs and lows, but he is motivated to expand cleantech.
He said if he could give his ex one piece of advice, he would say, “Be prepared, be patient and get ready for an exciting ride.”