Argonne National Laboratory

Atlas wins ocean-themed competition

November 7, 2017

Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the Lab Embedded Entrepreneurship Program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, made a big splash this month at Ocean Exchange when one of the companies in its first cohort took home the top prize for innovation.

Ocean Exchange is an international innovation pitch competition held annually in Savannah, Georgia, to find innovative, sustainable worldwide solutions that demonstrate the ability to generate economic growth and increase productivity while reducing the use of nature’s resources and waste production, all with an emphasis on oceans, coastlines, shipping/logistics and zero emissions.

Atlas Energy Systems, a startup that began at Purdue University and has been growing at Argonne under the CRI program, won the 2017 Orcelle Award sponsored by Wallensius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), a global logistics company that serves the manufacturing industry and is a leading maritime freight provider.

“WWL is excited to present the 2017 Orcelle Award to Atlas Energy Systems. Atlas' innovative technology allows for waste from the medical isotope industry to be repurposed in a responsible manner as a new battery technology that is not only safe but may possibly allow vessel operators to eliminate emissions from combustion engines while a vessel is working in port," said Ray Fitzgerald, president and COO of WWL Logistics, and chairman of the Ocean Exchange, in a press release press release.

Atlas Energy Systems, LLC is developing a new kind of industrial battery that can operate in portable sizes for months or years without recharging and provide emission-free power for generators. The Atlas Energy System uses the same platform technology found in household smoke detectors and expands it to provide continuous, long-lasting energy, even in extreme conditions of temperature or pressure, in the kilowatt range. Over the longer term, it is expected that the technology can be further scaled up to the megawatts range. Atlas makes its battery sustainable and environmentally friendly by using repurposed leftover material from the medical isotope industry to generate the electrons that carry the electrical charge. 

"One of the things that I love most about developing the Atlas Energy System is that its versatility allows it to be used to help find solutions to many energy challenges, from ocean monitoring to space exploration to powering portable battery packs for response crews in natural disasters," said Atlas CEO Ian Hamilton. "It was energizing to participate in Ocean Exchange and get to see so many talented innovators and such diversity of industry representatives come together to focus on global issues that affect our oceans."

Atlas is developing its battery at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago as part of a federal program through the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy called Chain Reaction Innovations. This program gives startups access to world-class research and development tools at Argonne to accelerate disruptive innovations.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.

EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) supports early-stage applied research & development of new materials, information, and processes that improve American manufacturing’s energy efficiency, as well as platform technologies for manufacturing clean energy products.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.