Vorbeck Named as Winner of 'America's Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge'

Friday, Feb 10, 2012

Startup based on Princeton technology

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that Vorbeck Materials, a company founded on discoveries made at Princeton University, has been named as one of three winning startup companies in the U.S. Department of Energy's America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge.

In a press release announcing the winnners, Chu singled out Vorbeck Materials for greatly improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles. "The new material in Vorbeck’s batteries stores twice as much electricity at high charge and discharge rates as current lithium-ion batteries, and creates increased battery capacity and a longer cycle life," said the release. Watch a video explaining the technology.

 Hannes Schniepp

Vorbeck's new material is graphene, a substance with unique electronic properties that is similar to the graphite found in pencils but made of just a single-layer of carbon atoms. In 2007, Vorbeck licensed from Princeton University a patented graphene manufacturing method that was developed in the laboratory of Ilhan Aksay, professor of chemical and biological engineering. Vorbeck and Princeton researchers are now working with the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to develop graphene's unique properties to enhance the performance of lithium-ion batteries.

The winners were chosen through expert review as well as online voting by visitors to the Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge website. The competition is part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America initiative, which aims to create the best possible climate for high-growth entrepreneurs across the country. The winning teams will be featured at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, an annual gathering of clean energy investors and innovators, at the end of February.