By: Daniela Portugal
We will get to know some of the startups that are part of our ecosystem. This time, the protagonist is Skeleton Technologies, who have developed ultracapacitors capable of storing three times more energy than the state of the art. Do you want to discover who is behind this innovative project? We spoke to Egert Valmra, Programme Director at Skeleton Technologies.
How has EIT InnoEnergy supported your company? What was the biggest impact of EIT InnoEnergy's support?
We have been working with EIT InnoEnergy since 2015 when we did our first Innovation Project – we have a second one concluding this year and the third one starting soon. The business development support from EIT InnoEnergy has become a very useful aid in our endeavors lending the necessary trust which is needed with larger companies such as German automotive, OEMs or many other companies that otherwise would not work with a semi-start-up as we are.
How is your technology contributing to your area?
Batteries are nice, right? But they have a lot of weaknesses. And I would say that the world would be a much more boring place if you didn't have ultracapacitors helping batteries out when it comes to a short burst of high power, and whenever you have a need for high power for 10, 5 or even 30 seconds, ultracapacitors can provide that! They have a lot more lifecycles that a battery - instead of hundreds, or a few thousand, they have million cycles or more. Therefore, you have something in the system taking care of your power peaks which you can forget about. You do not need to service them, swap them, be worried about hurting them, limiting their performance, etc. It is a different approach to storing energy, especially useful when you need a lot of power for a short time.
What's the key advantage of your start-up? What needs were you trying to fill when the company was created?
Ultracapacitors have been commercially successful from about 2005. The Achilles tendon of ultracapacitors has always been the cost because the amount of energy you can store in an ultracapacitor is twenty times less than a battery. Therefore, in a lot of applications, although you need very high power, you need too many ultracapacitors because you also need to meet the energy requirements. What our company was founded upon is a technology that will allow storing three times the amount of energy in an ultracapacitor compared to the state of the art. As a result of that, you have smaller systems and much lower costs. On a sole basis, you would be looking at costs three times lower than the state of the art. But at a system level, the difference will be even larger because you do not need the module casing, large racks, etc, that usually come with ultracapacitors. I think that if you can say that you have three times more energy in the same casing that would be the end of the story, that’s the best thing out there. But even theoretically, it will never challenge batteries.
Where do you see your company in 5/10 years?
We hope to be changing the transport and automotive sector. The numbers show us that using ultracapacitors is the most cost-effective way to meet CO2 regulations. Other solutions like full electrification are further away than 10 years and we will take care of the world until this comes.
What were the latest achievements of your company?
We had one big achievement in 2019 - getting into the automotive market. A real contract with a German original equipment manufacturer (OEM), an automotive company. This is a club membership which is hard to come by. We know that our competitors have been eyeing this particular automotive manufacturer for more than 10 years and they have not been able to get in and we did! EIT InnoEnergy was seriously helpful in building that trust to get that deal signed.
Are you looking for an investment?
We have concrete development ideas. We are targeting OEMs and, to make these deals a reality and delivering on them will require considerable capital. Yes, we are definitely looking for more investment. The company will be bankable in a couple of years, maybe even next year. But for now, we are definitely looking for more investors.