Transforming mobility with Skeleton Technologies, SET 18 Winner
May 24, 2018
As the global technology leader in graphene-based ultracapacitors and energy-storage systems, Skeleton Technologies works to decrease fuel consumption and carbon emissions in heavy transportation by using their Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to capture braking energy and re-use it in acceleration. The reason the KERS is so efficient is because of the SkelCap ultracapacitors that capture energy and have the highest power and energy density on the market, thanks to Skeltons curved graphene raw material. Through this system they aim to tackle the pollution challenges of the automotive and heavy transportation industries. We spoke with Jussi Pikkarainen, Marketing Project Manager, about his start-up and experience at SET 18. Read more on them here: www.skeletontech.com
What motivated you (or the founders) to start the company?
Two of our four founders, experienced scientists, had been working on materials that had properties suitable for energy storage. Together with Taavi Madiberk, our CEO, and Oliver Ahlberg, our COO, they started looking at energy storage technologies on the market at the time and concluded that the material they had developed was ideal for increasing energy and power in ultracapacitors and formed Skeleton Technologies. At the time, no one probably expected the EV and renewables market to grow at such a fast pace, which has also accelerated our growth greatly.
What was the process for coming up with your product/innovation?
Our products are used in a huge number of different applications already but talking specifically about the Kinetic Energy Recovery System for trucks and buses, the process of coming up with the theoretical solution was relatively simple. Breaking energy is lost as heat, which means that it’s usable energy basically thrown away, and due to the nature of the process, the key benefits of ultracapacitors are ideally suited for this application. Ultracapacitors can charge and discharge almost instantly and they can do the full charge-discharge cycle for more than a million times, and this is exactly what was required.
Similar technologies exist and are in use for example in Formula 1 cars, but for heavy transportation there are some limitations because of the amount of power involved. Batteries are not always able to harness such a large amount of energy, but ultracapacitors don’t have similar restrictions, because they can work with huge currents. Our ultracapacitor bank can harness the breaking energy without problems and reuse it for acceleration. The more a truck or a bus has to brake and accelerate, the more fuel savings are possible. Therefore, especially urban delivery trucks and busses are ideally suited to use our KERS and save more than 30% of fuel in the process.
What do you love about the sector you work in?
Energy storage and cleantech in general is such an inspiring arena to work in, because almost without fail everyone working for start-ups or long established companies are really passionate about what they are doing and the ways there are saving energy and the environment.
What keeps you up at night?
It’s mostly positive things like suddenly I might get an idea of a new application for our products and ways to improve them, and sometimes it might be hard to wait until the morning to get to it!
How did you find your overall SET experience and what was your favorite part?
Our time in Berlin was extremely inspiring. Seeing both early start-ups and hearing their stories, and then listening to high-level political decisionmakers was a great way to get new ideas and get pumped up to work even harder.
What do you think your start-up will look like in three years?
In the energy storage industry things can move relatively slowly. Just a testing phase with a large automotive manufacturer might take 3-5 years, so sometimes progress is slow. However, since our company was founded, we have taken huge leaps in the performance of ultracapacitors and we have an ambition plan in place in terms of technology development in the next years. With ultracapacitors, the user of a machinery, car, truck – whatever it may be – might not even know that there are ultracapacitors or ultracapacitor modules in the machine as it’s always a component of a larger system. So, in three years, Skeleton Technologies products will be powering machines and vehicles all around all of us, but most people will not know about it. We will certainly be the technology leader in the industry and the largest European manufacturer of ultracapacitor energy storage, but also heavily gunning for the top manufacturer globally.