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Nanom’s nanotech makes more efficient batteries that last at least 9 times longer

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Nanom's nanotech makes more efficient batteries that last at least 9 times longer

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Nanom is unveiling a patented battery technology that uses nanoparticles to make batteries that are far more efficient than the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries used today.

If it works, the technology could revolutionize batteries used in everything from electric cars to laptops and smartphones. Nanom claims its batteries last 9 times longer than the nickel-iron batteries Thomas Edison invented and more than than 9 times longer than lithium-ion batteries. They also weigh 5 times less and improve energy density, recharge rates, and battery disposal.

Nanom isn’t disclosing the direct comparison to lithium-ion batteries yet. But it is saying that an electric car with Nanom tech could drive across the United States on a single battery charge. That’s pretty mind-boggling.

And the company has raised $3 million from investors in Silicon Valley and the Nordics, thanks to backers like Village Global, whose network includes Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Reid Hoffman.

A big advantage of the nanotechnology Nanom uses is that it can be applied to existing lithium-ion batteries, creating more surface area to generate energy with the battery cells. Nanom can make the tech in its labs and easily add production to existing manufacturing plants.

Above: Nanom CEO Armann at Plug & Play Mobility.

Image Credit: Nanom

“The problem has always been that nanotechnology has been a little bit stuck in the lab,” CEO Armann Kojic said in an interview with VentureBeat. “It’s like a concept that has been great for making a million-dollar battery, but not one that actually goes in your car. And what’s unique about our approach is the fact that our core method of creating nanoparticles is a mass production method. This is very much about bringing it out of the lab and into a product.”

The Edison nickel-iron battery is more than 120 years old. Using iron and nickel particles and carbon fiber, Nanom makes the battery usable again. The company says its materials are 80% cheaper than those in a regular battery — and more disposable. The nickel-iron battery is used in large-scale energy storage devices.

“The Edison battery is kind of a showcase for us … to show what could be done to take a green battery and counter the weaknesses,” Kojic said.

Nanom is talking to a wide range of transportation, stationary storage, and battery companies about immediately adopting its nanoparticles into their own proprietary designs.

“We all know that this battery problem exists,” Kojic said. “And there’s a lot of factors that need to come together, like the environmental factor, the cost factor, and the effectiveness of the battery.”

How it works

nanom 5

Above: How the nanoparticles increase surface area.

Image Credit: Nanom

Nanom’s nanoparticle technology enables any battery formulation to be fundamentally altered for the better by dramatically increasing every aspect of its performance. It does so by immersing the battery materials in nanoparticles that increase the surface area that generates energy on a microscopic level.

These particles are many orders of magnitude more effective in increasing energy surface area than the current solutions, which makes them ideal for this generation of battery energy storage. And Nanom immediately enhances the energy density of any battery, Kojic said.

“It’s all about the ultra-high surface area, which affects the charging rates and the capacity,” Kojic said. “If I take a business card, I have the surface area as the front and the back of the business card. But if I cut it into a billion pieces, it becomes several football fields of a surface area, I’m using the sides and everything in between. And we can use all of that unused area for storing energy.”

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Above: The advantages of Nanom’s nanoparticles.

Image Credit: Nanom

Nanom has the ability to convert existing battery materials into nanoparticle size, enabling the same benefits for any battery process without needing to retool — the nanoparticles are simply mixed into the slurry that is a standard part of all battery manufacturing lines. Nanom has achieved massive scale in its manufacturing process and can already satisfy the requirements of key battery markets. In that sense, Kojic said the invention is industrially scalable.

The critical barrier to the utilization of the full potential of nanotechnology has always been the inability to economically manufacture nanoparticles in sufficient quantities. Nanom’s method allows for mass production of nanoparticles produced through friction by transverse introduction of feedstock material into alternating supersonic flow regimes in various controlled atmospheres. Controlling flow speed, atmosphere, repetitions, and after treatment allows the company to uniquely shape the particle’s size and surface areas, resulting in a bespoke nanostructure with unique properties. Nanom said it can convert micron-sized particles to nano-sized particles in high volume.

This provides unique nanostructures that enable longer-lasting batteries without changing anything in the batteries’ manufacturing flow. By replacing key materials with nano-enhanced materials, Nanom says it gives customers a competitive advantage.

Structural batteries

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Above: Structural Battery Boat Hull — The Magnea Prototype floated in Reykjavik Harbor.

Image Credit: Nanom

On top of the other benefits, the company said it can build the batteries into the materials used to make products, like car bodies, airplane seats, boat hulls, and more.

A structural battery is one that can be used in the material of a product by embedding the nanoparticles into a structure. In a car, it’s a fast-charging battery that is safe to use, as it doesn’t explode on impact. It also allows engineers to decentralize a power source.

Even a wall in your house can become a giant, safe battery that takes you off the grid.

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Above: Nanom can make structural batteries out of things like the side of a car.

Image Credit: Nanom

Nanom enables any structure or surface to become a battery storage device. For example, the company has already created a pilot project in which an electric boat was constructed such that the actual hull of the boat became the battery (15 meters of that type of hull has the energy storage capacity of five Tesla vehicles). Any material or structure Nanom turns into a battery is completely solid, uses no harmful chemicals, is green for the planet, and does not explode upon impact (as Lithium-Ion batteries have a distressing tendency to do).

And Nanom doesn’t have to convince customers to go with a different material.

“You can take existing technologies and get more out of them so that we don’t deplete the environment of raw materials,” he said. “We can create these high surface area nanoparticles that are super relevant to the battery industry. You can make batteries with a lower cost per kilowatt-hour than you can do otherwise.”

The company

Nanom CTO Antonijo Licitar and CFO Stuart Bronson outside the Nanom offices at Iceland Science Park.

Above: Nanom CTO Antonijo Licitar and CFO Stuart Bronson outside the Nanom offices at Iceland Science Park.

Image Credit: Nanom

Kojic was born in Iceland and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to join the StartX mentor labs incubator at Stanford University. He fell in love with the region and met his wife in the Bay Area. As he built the company, he also had an easier time finding investors in the region than he would have back home.

Nanom has applied for patents on the tech. The company has 17 people working in Palo Alto and Reykjavik, Iceland and has raised $3 million to date. The employees have worked at companies including Decode, Maersk, and Total S.A. Backers include Village Global, Iceland Venture Studio, Perkins Coie, and the European Union’s Green Deal project.

The EU Green Deal is a very ambitious action plan with the target of making Europe carbon-neutral by 2050. The Nanom Greenvolt project was selected as an EU Green Deal technology, which came with Green Deal funding.

Kojic said the company will disclose more in a few months when it announces its partners. The name “Nanom” combines the words “nano” and “om,” and it reflects the company’s vision of using the power of nano, or matter, to impact the universe, or om, the entirety of the universe, truth, and knowledge.

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Nintendo has some intriguing indie games to fill out the Switch’s future lineup

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Nintendo has some intriguing indie games to fill out the Switch's future lineup

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OK, I admit that I’m a little bummed that we didn’t see an update on Hollow Knight: Silksong during today’s Nintendo Indie World event. But we got enough other cool looking games that I’m not too upset.

Nintendo has done a great job showcasing indies on Switch during the console’s first four years. Along with those awesome Nintendo first-party games, it has really been these smaller digital titles that have kept the Switch’s library looking so attractive. And today, we saw some that I imagine many of us are going to want to download.

Play them soon

A few of them are even coming out later today. The Longing jumped out at me with its moody, hand-drawn art. It also looks like an adventure game of sorts, which sings to this old LucasArts fan. There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension is also coming out later today, somehow looking even weirder than The Longing. It gives me some WarioWare vibes. It looks like you’re playing snippets of minigames.

Above: There Is No Game.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Fez is also heading to Switch later today. This is a classic indie game that should appeal to anyone who enjoys 2D platformers with a heavy emphasis on puzzle-solving. As the Switch continues to become such an indie-focused machine, it’s important to get classics like Fez on the console.

Look at all these games

I also saw a few action games that look intriguing. Skul: The Hero Slayer is a 2D roguelite that gives me a bit of a Dead Cells impression, both because of its pixel art and its fast-paced 2D fighting. Then there’s Aztech: Forgotten Gods, a 3D action game! You don’t often see the indies take on that genre, and its Mesoamerican aesthetic helps it stand out from all the fantasy and sci-fi stuff that we usually see.

aztech

Above: Aztech: Forgotten Gods.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Nintendo also showed off some neat games that focus on story, like Road 96. This one is about a teenager going on a road trip, and its procedural story should make for a lot of replayability. Nintendo closed the show with Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, a sequel to one of the better-liked indie games ever. I was also impressed by Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, an auto-runner set in a Tokyo-Detroit mashup.

It was an impressive showcase. I know that some Nintendo fans have been worried that 2021 would be a quiet year for the Switch. That may be true when it comes to Nintendo first-party games, but these indies should help keep the system relevant for a lot of players while they wait Breath of the Wild 2.

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USC Games Expo will highlight 70 student games on May 15

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Danny Bilson is head of USC Gam,es.

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The USC Games Expo will debut more than 70 student-made games at noon Pacific on May 15 in a livestreamed online-only event.

The event for the University of Southern California’s video game program will feature returning host Geoff Keighley, creator of The Game Awards. Long-term partner Jam City returns as well. The USC Games program is rated as the top undergraduate game school in the country by The Princeton Review.

The event will be the second time it has been held in an online-only format because of the pandemic. The 70 games are up from 50 a year ago. They’re from students teams who worked remotely and were distributed across the globe.

Continuing the “global” theme, an additional live encore of the expo will stream that evening Pacific time to coincide with daytime in Asia. All interested attendees can register on uscgamesexpo.com for event updates, with North America attendees who RSVP eligible to win prizes, including game codes, during the stream itself.

Above: Danny Bilson is head of USC Games.

Image Credit: USC

This is the fifth year USC Games has held an expo, which covers the video game development programs offered by USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The Expo will also feature the first hands-on for the 10 projects being developed in its capstone course, the Advanced Games Program (AGP).

The 10 games from the AGP class are:

  • Beat the Beat Up (Oculus VR) — A VR action/rhythm game where you fight to the beat as the star of your own Bollywood blockbuster. The neighborhood Don has sent out his goons to terrorize the locals, and you are the only one that can stop them. You have to impress the critics, including one voiced by Bollywood star Abhay Deol (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dev.D, Happy Bhag Jayegi). If you rack up your score and clear the streets, you can save the village.
  • Corporate Clash (Mobile IOS/Android) — You can become the richest CEO of 2250. Corporate Clash is a casual mobile strategy game where players are the CEO of a futuristic company that makes widgets for robot consumers. You have to deal with the twists and turns thrown at you by your factory, employees, investors and other demanding groups. Pollute to cut costs but irk environmentalists, or raise prices and upset your customers?
  • Crescendo (PC) — Crescendo is a 2D combat action game where you conduct a musical world through your actions. Travel through an eerie fairy tale setting with music and battle the monstrous personifications of an orchestra.
  • Detour Bus (SteamVR, Oculus Rift/Link) — Detour Bus is a VR construction-comedy game where players build winding highways around themselves to take the Flowers family on a psychedelic road trip across post-infrastructure America. Snap together random road pieces to traverse groovy landscapes, avoid hazardous obstacles, and prevent corrupt Senator Joseph McCarthief from turning all freeways into pay-to-drive tunnels.
  • Larger Than Light (PC) — Traverse shadows by manipulating light in the 2.5D puzzle platform game, Larger Than Light. Escape a haunted school as the sibling duo: Skia the shadow, who can move across other shadows on the wall, and Lux the lightbulb, who can manipulate the size and placement of shadows for his younger sister to platform across. A single player will control both characters, getting them to work together to break away from the otherworldly force trapping them in their school while overcoming their bitter sibling rivalry.
  • Leechbug (PC) — Leechbug is a real-time strategy combat game where players take on the role of the Leechbug, a robotic symbiotic parasite who exists in an alien seascape. Your home is under threat from a polluting force that’s also sapping the will of your fellow undersea denizens. You have to use your powers of possession to free your friends, control their unique abilities synergistically to engage in combat, and reach the surface of the ocean to rescue your underwater world.
  • Pelota (PC) — Pelota is an action-packed online sports game for 2-to-4 players that brings an ancient sport into the interactive medium. Players will be immersed in a Mesoamerican setting as they master the game’s novel physics-based mechanics to get the game ball through a vertical hoop, using everything they have — except their hands — in order to win the favor of the gods.
  • Snowshoe Thompson (PC) — Explore the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains in The Trials of Snowshoe Thompson, a skiing expedition game set in the 19th century about an immigrant traversing the elements and laying the groundwork for what would become the U.S. Postal Service. During 1856, Snowshoe Thompson sets out to aid his new community as a mailman cross-country skiing across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, connecting the wild west with the wider world.
  • Sweeping the Ruins (PC) — Sweeping the Ruins is a two-player co-op strategy and combat game that let’s players engage in asymmetrical combat with an overpowered behemoth inside a dark and deep dungeon. Armed with no weaponry, two players will rely on their wits and use environmental traps to work in tandem to take down the beast. Players will need strategic coordination, situational awareness and teamwork to defeat the massive enemy and prevent the destruction of their nearby homeland.
  • Wheelin’ & Mealin’ (PC) — Wheelin’ and Mealin’ is a two-player co-op driving-and-cooking game that blends tooling around a bright, colorful cityscape and cooking fantastical dishes. Players can maneuver a souped-up race car and immerse themselves around a fantastical city to create crazy dishes that satisfy their customers in order to rise to the top of the restaurant world.

GamesBeat

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Nvidia forms Inception VC Alliance to connect AI startups with venture capital

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Nvidia forms Inception VC Alliance to connect AI startups with venture capital

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Nvidia has formed its Inception VC Alliance to connect AI startups with venture capital. The move will help connect more than 7,500 startups in the company’s Inception program for AI tech with venture capital firms.

Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development and head of Inception at Nvidia, unveiled the alliance today at the AI Day for VCs event during Nvidia’s annual GTC 21 conference. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the company’s latest products on Monday in a keynote speech where he talked about the company’s new Grace central processing unit (CPU).

“We always felt a very strong connection to the ecosystem. We give them technology, we introduce them to our 150 different software development kits, we give them joint marketing, we introduce them to investors,” Herbst said in an interview with VentureBeat. “We give them Cloud Credits. We give them discounts for GPUs.”

Above: Nvidia’s Jeff Herbst (top left) leads a panel on AI startups at GTC 21.

Image Credit: Nvidia

AI adoption is growing across industries, and startup funding has been booming. Investment in AI companies increased 52% last year to $52.1 billion, according to PitchBook. The Inception AI startups are up 9 times from 2016, Herbst said.

The alliance aims to help investment firms identify and support leading AI startups early, as part of their effort to realize meaningful returns down the line. The goal is to educate VCs about AI opportunities and nurture startups, Herbst said.

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Above: Inception has more than 7,500 AI startups.

Image Credit: Nvidia

“AI is growing like a weed. We’re over 7500 companies, and it’s not going to be long before we’ve doubled that,” he said. “The ecosystem is clearly exploding. And VCs are a super important part of it. Startups need VCs, and VCs need startups. It’s just that simple fuel for startups to grow. We have thousands of VCs that are already part of our ecosystem, but we’ve never formalized the partnership with them until now.”

Founding members of the alliance include venture firms NEA, Acrew, Mayfield, Madrona Venture Group, In-Q-Tel, Pitango, Vanedge Capital, and Our Crowd. More VCs can apply here.

nvidia panel 2

Above: Nvidia’s Inception AI startups by industry.

Image Credit: Nvidia

The Nvidia Inception VC Alliance is part of the Nvidia Inception program, an acceleration platform for startups working in AI, data science, and HPC. These startups represent every major industry and are located in more than 90 countries.

Among its benefits, the alliance offers VCs exclusive access to high-profile events, visibility into top startups actively raising funds, and access to growth resources for portfolio companies.

“It’s both a corporate goal and a personal goal to extend this ecosystem around the world,” Herbst said.

nvidia panel 3

Above: Nvidia’s Inception AI startups are from the green countries.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Nvidia currently counts about 40 companies it has invested in directly. Around 300 Inception companies are making presentations at the GTC 21 event, which is expected to have an online audience of about 150,000. And around 35 of the startups are in emerging markets, Herbst said.

“Is there parity in the world with AI startups? No,” Lopez Research analyst Maribel Lopez said on the panel. “Do we have a long way to go? Yes. But I’m seeing exciting things like Cuda, a fintech startup in microfinance in Africa.”

These startups are using AI for a wide range of tasks, like figuring out what percentage of fisheries in the world are operating illegally.

“Now that Jensen has shown the roadmap, people know that Nvidia is a complete platform, with CPUs, GPUs, DPUs, and everything that enables these startups to do their life’s work.”

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Above: Nvidia’s Inception AI startups over the years.

Image Credit: Nvidia

On Monday, Herbst moderated a panel on investing in startups around the globe and the need to create a more diverse ecosystem for entrepreneurs. He estimated there are 12,000 to 15,000 AI startups around the world and said Nvidia is only in touch with about half of them through Inception.

“It’s an open invitation to join our ecosystem,” Herbst said. “Nvidia loves startups.”

Herbst said about 16% of Inception members are part of the health care industry. Growth areas include robotics, self-driving cars and trucks, and data science.

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