Wednesday, January 28, 2015

News: Cumulus on Clean and Cool Mission


Cumulus Energy Storage (CES), a high-tech start-up based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, has been selected as one of the UK's most promising cleantech SMEs, and has been in California to explore business opportunities.

Previously known as Wind Power Performance Ltd, and based in the AMP Technology Centre, Cumulus is developing prototype low-cost battery technology which can be developed commercially to cope with the rigours and requirements of the renewable industry.

Innovate UK, the new name for the Technology Strategy Board, is sending a small group of the UK's most promising early stage and innovative cleantech SMEs on a Clean and Cool Mission to connect with investors, partners and customers, culminating at the Cleantech Forum San Francisco in March 2015. The Mission will help winning companies: develop quality contacts with investors and partners, gain unique insight, profit from fresh stimulus, and improve pitch and profile.

Storing the electricity from intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar at source, or "grid level," is a key problem due to the mismatch between the availability of intermittent wind or sunshine and the changing demand for grid electricity. Cumulus has received a patent for its grid-level energy storage battery with 1MWh-100MWh storage capacity which it hopes to be the lowest cost battery technology in the world.

The Bi-Metal copper-zinc battery is based on existing industrial chemistry and architecture already used at a larger scale in mineral processing. The technology allows this to be used as a re-chargeable grid-storage battery, using inexpensive, recyclable materials.

Cumulus is one of 19 projects to secure funding from the latest round of the Government's Energy Entrepreneurs' Fund (EEF) that was established in 2012 to help bring a range of new and innovative low carbon products to market. It already has a toe in San Francisco. The company is headed up by CEO Nick Kitchen, COO Darron Brackenbury, two professional engineers with MBAs, and Mike Horwitz, the principal inventor. Research is based in San Francisco and manufacturing here in South Yorkshire.

The chosen firms were in the US last week for an intensive itinerary of meetings, pitching sessions, coaching and netwroking. Nick Kitchin, CEO at Cumulus Energy Storage (pictured top, right), explained: "With support from the UK government, we are on track to have a 20kWh battery grid-connected in June 2015 and we are seeking additional finance to enable further product and business development.

"So, Cumulus Energy Storage, together with another 14 of the best Cleantech companies from the UK, ... presented two-minute pitches to a 50-strong audience of potential investors and business partners at "Intersection for the Arts" - a high energy event with professional presentations - followed by one-to-one meetings with investors, sowing the seeds for future investment and partnerships." You can see a pitch from Nick below:

Kevin Baughan, director of technology and innovation at Innovate UK, said: "With San Francisco at the heart of the cleantech ecosystem in the US, the Clean and Cool Mission is a fantastic opportunity for UK businesses to showcase their innovative technologies and identify growth opportunities in this thriving industry.

"The level of investment achieved by previous Mission attendees is incredible and we're really excited about the companies selected for this year's trip. Each chosen company has shown us new and exciting cleantech solutions with huge potential and addressing a multitude of environmental challenges faced by society today."

Kitchen and Cumulus took part in the previous Clean and Cool Mission to Colorado 2013, which led to offers of grant funding and the firm raising £250K from seed investors.

Also on that mission to Colorado was Iceotope, another hi-tech firm based on the AMP, that has worked with the University of Leeds to develop a new system that reduces the power consumed in data centres by using liquid rather than air to provide cooling, eliminating the need for power-hungry fans. Last year Iceotope successfully completed a round of fundraising for $10m to help further commercialise its innovative cooling solutions.

Rotherham's Metalysis, based in Manvers, and Xeros Ltd, based on the AMP have taken part in the missions in previous years. Last year, Australian minerals firm, Iluka Resources Limited, agreed to invest £12.2m in Metalysis, as it commercialises a low-cost way to manufacture titanium and other specialist powder metals. Xeros, which is commercialising a patented system using a unique method of special polymer beads rather than the usual large amounts of fresh water to clean clothes, raised £30m when it floated on the AIM stock exchange in 2014.

Cumulus Energy Storage website
Clean and Cool Mission website

Images: Clean and Cool Mission


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