When Alex Kosyakov was a high school sophomore he was afforded a golden opportunity — a position with the City College of New York Energy Institute. Uniquely, Kosyakov was able to choose the subject of his work, so long as his chosen project related to energy. To him, the choice was clear: batteries, a powerful tool rapidly transforming energy across the world.
This early introduction to battery technologies proved formative, shaping Kosyakov’s passion for transformative tech. Fast forward from high school to the present day, in addition to being a full-time materials science student at the University of Illinois, Kosyakov is founder and CEO of Natrion, a battery start-up whose mission is to produce affordable, safe and efficient renewable energy. As Kosyakov explained, solar power and other clean energies have major potential, but the batteries currently used behind the scenes carry many unwanted attributes.
“When you have a solar panel installation, it’s not going to be making power 24/7, so you have to pair these things with large batteries that can actually manage energy that’s being produced so it’s usable for people,” Kosyakov said. “The problem we’re seeing right now is really the industry has trended towards making really high-performance batteries for phones and such, but because of that, they tend to be pretty prone to fire, use a lot of heavy metals that aren’t really good for the planet, and they’re also expensive.”
Looking to innovate and move the industry away from heavy metals, Natrion makes their batteries out of sodium as opposed to lithium, producing a cheaper and more accessible battery. Additionally, there’s no liquid used— mitigating the risk that the battery will catch fire or boil, an added safety measure.
Natrion is rapidly developing both their technology and their business and looking to hire additional team to work at their lab in Binghamton’s Koffman Incubator. A member of less than a year, the start-up has quickly become involved, receiving mentorship and connections through the Clean Energy Incubator program alongside 20+ members also in related fields.
“There’s a lot of different battery companies in the incubator, just down the hall,” said Kosyakov. “It was really a natural choice because there’s really no place quite like it.”
Kosyakov went on further to describe the people working at the Koffman and the Clean Energy Incubator.
“I knew they were here, but I don’t think I would’ve expected how readily they were going to be collaborating with us or trying to help us out,” Kosyakov said. “We’re already working with two companies here pretty closely.”
Natrion’s is charging ahead with their first product lined up for release in about a year. Their end goal is to create the “better battery,” and are rapidly developing their groundbreaking innovation. For now, the product to keep an eye out for is their single battery component that can be easily implemented into existing lithium ion battery tech.
Most recently, Natrion was awarded a Phase I SBIR grant for $50,000 which they will use to accelerate the formulation of their electrolyte component for existing Li-ion batteries which is expected to produce a high-performance battery able to operate at a wide range of temperatures.
“This component we’re creating for existing lithium batteries is synonymous to what we’ll use in our new sodium battery, so everything we’ll learn from the work on this grant will be transferable to our other projects — an all-around great thing for our company,” Said Kosyakov.
To discover more, check out Natrion’s website at www.natrion.co