New €4m investment for Estonian ultracapacitors startup could change energy storage market
Skeleton Technologies, Europe’s leading manufacturer of high-performance, graphene-based ultracapacitors, has been backed by a new 4 million euro investment from sustainable innovation investment firm KIC InnoEnergy whose shareholders include ABB, EDF, Iberdrola and Total. The company aims to reach the ambitious target of 20 Wh/kg energy density for its technology by 2020.
Ultracapacitors are high-energy storage devices with greatly increased power density and longer life cycles than batteries. Estonian startup Skeleton Technologies’ devices are the only ultracapacitors to use a patented graphene material in their manufacture, allowing them to deliver twice the energy density and five times the power density of their competitors.
The company, which on Tuesday was announced as a Global Cleantech 100 company, will use the KIC InnoEnergy investment to further optimize electrode and cell design to allow for higher working voltages. These developments will unlock the full performance capabilities of the company’s graphene-based material, known as carbide-derived carbon (CDC).
“Energy storage is one of the key issues facing the European energy sector. Getting it right will help with everything from smart grids and smart buildings to ensuring better integration of renewables in electricity networks across the continent," said Kenneth Johansson, CEO of KIC InnoEnergy Sweden, calling Skeleton's ultracapacitors "a potential game changer in the energy storage space."
The investment was pledged as part of the 9.8 million euro Series B financing secured by Skeleton Technologies last year. With funds now in place, work will begin to develop electrodes that can fully capitalize on the performance advantages offered by CDC. These electrodes will then be integrated into smaller modules, reducing both the weight and cost of the final energy storage system.
When this work is complete, Skeleton Technologies expects to offer three times the performance/weight ratio of current market leading products at the same price. This milestone will play a significant role in accelerating the adoption of ultracapacitors across transport, industrial equipment and grid applications.
The development work will be undertaken in collaboration with partners who will independently evaluate the performance of the ultracapacitor modules, including Finnish electric drive train manufacturer Visedo OY.
Skeleton Technologies’ high-performance ultracapacitors are set to be launched into orbit as part of a European Space Agency project and have been incorporated in the world’s first Kinetic Recovery System (KERS) for freight vehicles. They are also available in an Engine State Module (ESM) for trucks and as part of a hybrid Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) for defence applications.