Lux Research has put together a group of cutting-edge emerging technology companies to watch in 2013 and we’re stoked that they’ve picked a whopping nine in the energy field. While they’re not all focused on clean energy — one’s an enhanced oil recovery company — they all have early stage technology that could break through next year.
We also haven’t heard of most of these firms, so I wanted to include the whole list here and see what you guys think of their choices. The picks include everything from startups to publicly traded companies, and from American firms to companies in Canada and Germany.
1). Beta Renewables: A $350 million joint venture between Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi and TPG, Italian company Beta Renewables is scaling up a commercial cellulosic ethanol factory, which it began operating in the fourth quarter of 2012 in Italy. The plant is supposed to eventually make 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, starting from an initial volume of 40,000 tons. Beta Renewables uses enzymes to break down non-food biomass and then uses a fermentation process to turn it into biofuels.
2). Materials Innovation Technologies: The company makes carbon fiber parts for lightweight vehicles from recycled materials, and it’s also been working on natural fiber bio-based parts and recycled fiber parts. Founded in 2004, Materials Innovation Technologies has big partners like Boeing, and has a factory in Lake City, South Carolina.
3). N-Solv: N-Solv injects heated gas into oil sand reservoirs to extract more oil, but says its process is more efficient, more sustainable and cheaper than competitive processes. The company has a pilot plant that is supposed to start production in spring of 2013 in Alberta.
4). Imprint Energy: Imprint Energy makes zinc-based flexible, slim batteries for electronics. The company, based in Alameda, Calif., was founded in 2010 and the technology was developed at the University of California, Berkeley.
5). Phosphagenics: The only non-energy company on the list, Phosphagenics is an Australian publicly-traded biotech company that makes skin-based drug delivery technology (like a patch or a cream).
6). Azzurro Semiconductors: A German semiconductor maker that develops gallium nitride on silicon substrates, called GaN-on-Si. These semicondcuctors are used to makes LEDs and as the basis for power electronics. The company is backed by Good Energies, Emerald Technology Ventures, Wellington Partners Venture Capital and GoodVent.
7). Enbala Power Networks: Enbala creates a network that can manage building power devices — like boilers, chillers, and battery stations — to sell what’s called regulation services, or making sure the grid is kept in balance in real time, to utilities and power companies. With headquarters in Toronto, the company is backed by Walsingham Growth Partners, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, and others.
8). Boulder Ionics: The company makes ionic liquids that can be used as the electrolyte for energy storage technologies like batteries and ultracapacitors. The company raised $4.3 million from Pangaea Ventures, 9th Street Investments, CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund, JSR Corporation and Protonic Capital. The company also has a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.S. Navy (USN).
9). Silevo: One of the few companies on the list we’ve profiled, Silevo’s solar cells use silicon to convert sunlight into electricity, but its cells use more efficient single-crystal silicon (as the substrate) and amorphous-silicon to manipulate the voltage and current of the cells. The company also uses copper instead of silver, which is more expensive, to create the ultra thin lines that ferry electricity out of solar cells. The result is a solar cell that is more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than the dominant silicon-only cells on the market today.
10). Desalitech: Desalitech is a water desalination tech company that says its water cleaning process is more reliable, flexible and costs 20 percent than competitors. Israeli water company AquAgro Fund and private equity fund Liberation Capital are investors.
(c) 2012, GigaOM.com.