Exhibitor Spotlight - Paraclete Energy
We caught up with Jeff Norris, CEO and founder at Paraclete Energy, ahead of their exhibit at The Battery Show 2017. Jeff answered our questions on the shift in existing trends to cater for the high demand for electric cars, how to get ahead of the industry curve, and Paraclete Energy's focus for this year's show.
Jeff Norris is Paraclete Energy’s founder and CEO. He holds an MBA from Duke University, a BS in finance from the USC, and was winner of the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Young Alumni of the Year from USC. Jeff has completed multiple strategic transactions as well as taking one of his other companies from concept to a NASDAQ IPO, where initial investors held stock valued at 77:1 after the SEC-required lockup period. Jeff started in the computer industry, where his specialty was chemical manufacturing and re-engineering utilizing process control and systems engineering. Jeff has over 90 patents issued or filed as primary or co-inventor.
Which customer or market demands were the biggest drivers of your company's growth during the past three years?
The entire value chain within the storage industry wants cost down and energy density up. The industry must identify a solution, and this need to find a solution drives Paraclete’s growth. This solution MUST be solved or the adoption rate of EVs and stationary storage will be dramatically stymied. Paraclete is the first company to commercially offer high-capacity, low-cost nanoparticle silicon metal that is safe to use in air and water. Paraclete does this through applying a 3-5 nanometer surface modifier that acts as an artificial SEI. Paraclete’s SM-Silicon metal is the highest energy dense, lowest-cost active material that can be scaled to meet the coming demand.
Do you anticipate that those demands will continue to be your biggest growth drivers for the next three years, or are you anticipating new trends?
No, we are not anticipating new trends. We are anticipating a shift in the existing trend’s demand curve for electrical vehicles and stationary storage. The trend will shift because the cost and performance models, as well as industry-wide availability of high-capacity silicon metal, is within reach to the battery and electric vehicle manufacturers. The mass-market consumer will respond with rewarding those suppliers that embrace this enabling technology with their dollars and increased market share, hence causing the demand curve to shift to aggressive growth.
We are seeing orders from battery companies that are now planning both a SiOx and a higher-capacity metal-based SM-Silicon R&D project, as well as anode material companies incorporating Paraclete’s SM-Silicon into their graphite to offer a premium high-capacity anode graphite-based material. The trend is shifting away from the first generation SiOx to next-generation, much higher capacity silicon metal. This trend brings growth to Paraclete. Paraclete Energy is the only supplier in the industry that can consistently provide tons of silicon metal with a custom surface modifier that is optimized to the customer’s application, binder, electrolyte, and cathode system, all while being able to pay the same as or significantly less than the cost of graphite from a $/kWh.
What are your areas of R&D focus, and what timeline do you anticipate for bringing your next new products to market? Can you tell us anything about those products?
Paraclete is designing custom surface modifiers that are specifically optimized for the systems within the customer’s battery products. Paraclete can covalently bond nearly any organic or inorganic material, or a combination of both, to high-capacity silicon metal’s surface. This surface modifier acts as an artificial SEI. Paraclete is developing optimized surface modifiers with customers for their specific application, binder, electrolyte, and cathode systems. This customization and optimization are overcoming many of the known issues of working with silicon.
We are also always increasing the amount of silicon in cells to replace graphite while maintaining or improving the cycle stability. This is a unique capability that Paraclete’s SM-Silicon has over SiOx given that SiOx has such a high initial capacity loss that limits its use to less than 10%, while SM-Silicon can be used to >70%.
What new trends do you anticipate and what market demands do you see evolving/changing over the next five years?
As high-capacity, cycle-stable batteries become the norm and ubiquitous, we will see electric vehicles embraced by the mass market beyond the early adopters. We will see many more applications for consumer devices and electronic commerce and medical devices that were never contemplated previously, yet enabled because of the switch to high-capacity silicon metal away from low-capacity silicon oxide. We will see the electricity grid convert more to DC current; carbon-based fuels will become backup energy rather than primary energy. We will see this new DC-distributed grid extend to parts of the world that have little or no stable electricity today.
What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities currently faced by the industry?
Many players in any emerging industry are encumbered by their status quo and end up being too late to the game given this albatross way of thinking and not appreciating that time to market is much more important in today’s economy than the perfect product.
Did the PC manufacturers see the impact of the web, tablets, or smart phones? Did Kodak understand the impact of digital photography and smart phones, did Motorola see the Apple iPhone coming, AND, did the European and Japanese luxury gasoline-powered high-margin car market see the Tesla EV coming or initially take the threat seriously?
We are here again, the competitive landscape has changed, and we cannot wait for the “perfect” EV. This industry does not need to make the perfect EV, they just need to compete with what is already being purchased by their former customers. The technology exists today to do that and to overcome buyer’s anxiety that is keeping the masses from buying electric vehicles. But the industry must embrace it now else these new carnivorous competitors will own the lion’s share of the electric vehicle industry.
What is your company's approach to strategic partnerships or joint ventures, and what kinds of partnerships are you most open to exploring?
Paraclete means: “to come alongside”. We work alongside battery manufacturers to enable them to produce the highest-energy batteries possible. We design custom and optimized surface modifiers for SM-Silicon’s surface to be optimized for their specific application, binder, electrolyte, and cathode system. Paraclete Energy is working to help the overall industry by making its silicon metal available to everyone, including its competitors and to graphite companies so they can purchase it as an additive for premium battery graphite products that contain high-capacity SM-Silicon.
What products will you be featuring at the show this year and what response are you expecting?
Paraclete’s focus for this show is less about featuring a product but more encouraging industry to test Paraclete’s high-capacity metal-based SM-Silicon along with the R&D they are doing with SiOx. We are also focusing on the reality that based on actual driving data, EV owners only drive their vehicle over 100 miles per day 2% of the time. Given that this is the case, manufacturers can put high-capacity SM-Silicon in their batteries and it will last over 3,000 cycles or longer than the standard eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
We expect, as is typical, there will be some leading thinkers that will act to gain a leg up. These leading thinkers understand the increase in market share that will be gained by being able to offer EVs that can drive farther than any of their competitors given the additional miles between recharge that metal-based, high-capacity, optimized SM-Silicon provides. These companies will start a project to study SM-Silicon in parallel with their SiOx project and some will engage Paraclete Energy to work with them to design and optimize a specific surface modifier for their specific application, binder, electrolyte, and cathode system.
What are you looking forward to most at The Battery Show 2017?
Increasing industry awareness, increasing quality leads, and moving prospects from awareness and education to closure to work together to enable their products and batteries to be the best on the market, and thereby they gain market share as a result.
The Battery Show has become the must-attend event for the industry. It is the only show that is attended by executive decision makers and the scientific and engineering geniuses who are creating new and exciting technology. We look forward to renewing old acquaintances and meeting new industry players at every level in parallel to increasing Paraclete’s industry awareness, our value proposition, our pipeline, and partnerships.
You will also be speaking at The Battery Show Conference; can you tell us a bit about your presentation?
Yes, I will be talking about a survey of various prelithiation techniques. Which ones are in commercial use and which ones are compatible with aqueous-based binder systems. I will also show comparative data of the increase in energy density with prelithiation between graphite alone, SiOx and SM-Silicon as well as the increase in miles between recharging as a result. I will also discuss and present data showing how prelithiation can reduce initial capacity loss to 0%, thereby making first-cycle efficiency 100%.
Paraclete Energy will be exhibiting at The Battery Show 2017 at booth 1701.
Don't miss the Product Showcase: SM-Silicon and SM-Silicon/PL