In June 2017, Professor Ernesto Julio Calvo won the DSM Bright Minds Challenge for Inquimae. Traditionally, lithium - the lifeblood of battery technology - is available through one source and one source only: extraction from giant salt lakes or ‘flats. It’s a very slow process that wastes millions of gallons of water while releasing sodium chloride and magnesium sulfate waste into the air and soil. Or at least, it was. Ernesto’s revolutionary electrochemical method uses solar power to extract the lithium…but with zero environmental impact.
Qichao Hu no longer needs to imagine it, because he is about to make it a reality. As the inventor of the Gen 3 Li-Metal battery he and his team have doubled the life of the batteries used to stop these drones crashing to the ground at night – thus turning a great concept into a life-changing opportunity.
His own journey has been one of curiosity, discovery and national acclaim… followed by crushing disappointment and depression. It has led him from the hallowed halls of MIT, to the deserted factory of a bankrupt Massachusetts battery factory.
But today the company he founded, SolidEnergy Systems, is dealing with 1,000 new business enquiries per month as it prepares to transform everything from drones, to phones, to cars. How?