The Cleantech Forum in San Francisco next week promises to be a unique collaborative space for corporations, investors, and entreprenuers. A highlight of the forum is the entrepreneur showcase. On Tuesday, March 27 twenty promising startups will present pitches across the gamut of cleantech industries, from renewable energy and energy storage, to water treatment and home IT solutions.
After perusing the patent portfolios of all twenty companies in our CleanTech PatentEdge database, two companies stood out from the rest: LanzaTech and ReVolt Technology.
LanzaTech is a growing company that produces commodity chemicals and biofuels from waste gases emitted by heavy manufacturing industries, forestry, and municipal wastes. Founded in New Zealand in 2005, this company now spans the globe with offices in China and the United States. Just this past January, LanzaTech raised over $55 million in financing in its third round of funding.
LanzaTech has three issued patents in the United States (US8119378, US8119844, and US7972824). These patents focus on the production of ethanol biofuels through microbial fermentation, and follows upon James Gaddy’s work at the University of Arkansas on ethanol producing microorganisms.
Over the past three years, LanzaTech’s biggest competitors in innovation for the biomass sector are BASF Plant Science, Novozymes, Xyleco, and Chevron. In the biogas sector, LanzaTech’s biggest competitors are Novozymes, Bekon Energy, Schmack, and DSM.
The publication velocity for biogas and biomass patents have increased over the past decade, with a noticeable increase in biogas publications since 2006-2007. This suggests that companies consider biogas to be an opportunity for growth in the market, and that new product development in biogas is happening today (see our post: Patent Publication Delays and Product Development Cycles).
ReVolt Technology, on the other hand, is an energy storage company that develops rechargeable zinc-air batteries for automobiles and other consumer electronics. This Oregon-based startup began in 2004 as an offshoot of Norwegian SINTEF, one of the largest contract research institutes in Europe. In 2010, ReVolt received $5 million from the DOE from the ARPA-BEEST grant.
ReVolt Technolgy has one issued patent in Europe (EP1977475) focused on electrode technology for metal-air batteries. ReVolt currently has thirteen pending application, but no issued patents in the United States. These generally concern the design and manufacture of ReVolt’s air electrode technology, plus methods for charging the zinc-air batteries (for example: US20110027665 and US20110199055).
Over the past three years, ReVolt’s biggest innovation competitors in advanced batteries are the large electronics companies: Panasonic, Samsung, Toyota, and Sony. For flow batteries specifically, ReVolt is in competition with Acal Energy, Sumitomo Electric, Deeya Energy, and Enervault.
The publication velocity across various advanced battery technologies have remained stagnant over the past decade, except in the fields of charging and management and lithium-ion batteries. This suggests that flow batteries are still a nascent field, with little product development currently. ReVolt’s new innovations in flow batteries are unique in the field.