UK start-up company Brill Power has won the top prize at the New Energy Challenge 2017 in Amsterdam. The company has developed new technology that greatly increases the lifetime and reliability of lithium-ion batteries.
The company, founded in 2016, was chosen among 20 finalists which participated in a finals week, culminating in a pitching contest during EnergyFest in Amsterdam on September 28. A record number of 246 ideas were submitted for the Challenge, an initiative by Shell Technology Ventures, and two Dutch startup accelerator programs, Rockstart and YES!Delft.
Brill Power, made up of a team of four battery specialists based out of the Energy and Power Group at the University of Oxford, has a very ambitious product. It has developed an intelligent control system that extends the lifetime of multicell lithium-ion batteries by no less than 60%, according to financial director Carolyn Hicks, who presented the company at the event.
The basic idea behind the technology, said Hicks, is that it connects battery cells individually to the “brain” of the battery. Cells degrade at different rates. Normally, they are connected collectively, which means the battery is as weak as its weakest cell. This problem is overcome by connecting them individually, Hicks said. The result is that they last 60% longer.
The runners-up were Solaris Offgrid from Spain and HySiLabs from France. Solaris Offgrid has created a modular pay-as-you-go software and app for offgrid solar power systems. This can be used by companies offering solar offgrid solutions, especially in developing countries. In Tanzania Solaris Offgrid already has 1600 systems in place. The company wants to expand to other countries in Africa and elsewhere.
HySiLabs has developed a liquid carrier for hydrogen that is easy and safe to transport and store. Renewable energy is used to produce hydrogen, which is then stored in the liquid. This can then be transported to where it is needed using standard liquid fuel infrastructure, after which it has to be released from the liquid, e.g. at a filling station.
Brill Power will receive a €100,000 convertible loan and business advice from Shell Technology Ventures for at least one year. Solaris Offgrid from Spain and HySiLabs from France will enter the Rockstart & YES!Delft accelerator programs respectively and receive a cash prize of €10,000 to move their business forward.
The New Energy Challenge 2017 edition was centered around the theme “Raising the bar,” calling for start-ups from Europe and Israel working at the crossroads of integrated energy solutions, connected customers and smart energies, with the potential of contributing to a lower-carbon energy system.