By Scott Meacham
There is plenty of innovation in Oklahoma — with the entrepreneurial talent and the infrastructure to scale
Imagine a time in the not-so-far-off future when battery power is as ubiquitous as electricity. For that to happen, batteries must be smaller, lighter, longer-lasting, and affordable. They must be “greener” and produced in quantity — that means billions of batteries every year to power everything from flashlights and headphones to electric vehicles.
That means that any new battery material must be available in quantity from day one. Ten-Nine Technologies, a Tulsa-based company founded by noted research chemist and nanotechnology inventor Paige Johnson, has accomplished this “holy grail.”
Johnson developed a nanoparticle technology that is super powerful and allows massive increases in duration of power. (Ten-Nine refers to 10-9, which is the formulaic description for a nanoparticle.)
Ten-Nine reached a world-first achievement with a new class of non-toxic nanomaterials with energy equivalence to fossil fuels. Now, the company has validated production at commercial scale. Ten-Nine stands ready to produce tons of nanomaterial to satisfy the enormous potential of the battery market.
“The first phase of our company’s life was the invention phase,” CEO Johnson said. “We proved the material and applied for patents. The second phase was all about integration. What was the best way to use our new battery technology? What was the best way to manufacture it to offer the most gain with the least risk to battery makers? The third thing was to produce at scale. Now we have accomplished all three. We have done on $10 million what other companies have not succeeded with at $500 million.”
Uniquely, Ten-Nine’s TENIX™ materials can be used in all types of batteries without battery redesign or changing the process or equipment for battery manufacturers. The nanomaterial looks like a powder. It comes in barrels and is stable and non-toxic. It blends seamlessly with other materials that manufacturers are already using. Nanoparticles are so tiny—an ant is about 5 million nanometers long—that they actually fit into the empty spaces of other larger materials used to make batteries. TENIX™ is also environmentally responsible, and has been certified as having a carbon-neutral production footprint.
Initially, Ten-Nine is pursing the single-use battery market first. Single-use batteries (AA, AAA, 9V, D-cell and more) are prolific, from TV remotes to toys, from gaming devices to flashlights. The list is endless.
Ten-Nine is also in discussions with leaders in the electric vehicle market and presented data on their work in automotive batteries at the recent Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in San Diego. The company was named a finalist in the prestigious NASA iTech competition and presented applications of the TENIX™ technology for aviation and space at the NASA iTech Cycle II forum earlier this month.
Not surprisingly, many battery technology companies are funded by venture firms on the West Coast. Johnson says that she and her team are talking to people who can’t believe that Ten-Nine was conceived and scaled in Tulsa — that real innovation can come out of Oklahoma.
Those people are wrong. There is plenty of innovation in Oklahoma — with the entrepreneurial talent and the infrastructure to scale. Ten-Nine proves the point.
Scott Meacham CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.