Spark Cleantech Accelerator Cohort 2024 Selected

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (July 9, 2024) – The Spark Cleantech Accelerator at the University of Tennessee Research Park is excited to announce the participants of their third annual accelerator program. The cohort is made up of a diverse group of founders working to commercialize a wide variety of promising cleantech and climate-tech products, ranging from aluminum and sodium batteries, to solar energy and wildfire prevention.

The Spark Cleantech Accelerator will kick off on Aug. 19, 2024, and will culminate in a Demo Day on Nov. 19, 2024 as part of “Opportunities in Energy” hosted by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council. The 12-week accelerator will provide mentorship, connections, stipends, prototyping support, and business acceleration services to help early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs commercialize new innovations.

We’re really looking forward to working with this year’s cohort. The six startups we have selected will be joined by the new cohort of Innovation Crossroads fellows. Together, these two groups create a strong community of founders working to commercialize exciting solutions. The diverse mix of technologies represented by this year’s cohort have the potential to make a huge impact on their respective industries, on the planet, and on the local economy.

Lilly Tench, Director of The Spark Innovation Center

Spark Cleantech Accelerator 2024 Cohort

AluminAiry, Brian Washington, Knoxville TN
AluminAiry specializes in aluminum-air battery technology for electric vehicles (EVs). Their batteries, which use recyclable aluminum and air to generate energy, promise to significantly reduce range anxiety and recharge times, making EVs more marketable. These batteries offer energy densities up to ten times higher than traditional Li-ion batteries, potentially doubling EV range and cutting recharge times by a factor of ten. This innovation addresses key EV limitations, benefiting manufacturers, current EV drivers, and future consumers.

American Advanced Membrane Technology, Rachid Essehli, PhD, Knoxville TN
AAMTECH focuses on eco-friendly process manufacturing with core verticals in reverse osmosis, wastewater treatment, and zero-waste lithium-ion battery recycling. Their advanced membrane filtration systems and battery recycling processes efficiently reclaim valuable materials with minimal CO2 emissions, reintegrating them into new battery manufacturing. AAMTECH’s methods prioritize safety, sustainability, and operational efficiency.

IonTech Energy Solutions, Subathra Rajendran, Kettering OH
IonTech develops sodium-ion battery technology, offering a sustainable and affordable alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Utilizing abundant sodium, their batteries provide high stability, excellent cycling performance, low toxicity, and wide temperature range capabilities. Their Na’SICON cathode technology enhances energy storage efficiency for various applications, supporting the transition to clean energy and a sustainable future.

Witching Hour, Lance Adler, Gulfport FL
Witching Hour addresses power line-related wildfires in California with advanced materials and technologies that reduce faults and ignitions. Their innovative coating for electrical lines and robotic application machine enhance safety and reduce the cost of current mitigation efforts by up to 97%, presenting a significant advancement in wildfire prevention.

Z18 Engineering, Bing Cao, Knoxville TN
Z18 Engineering has developed recyclable magnetic nanoparticles (RMNPs) to eliminate PFAS from water, wastewater, and sludge. These nanoparticles, coated with an Amine-PEG ligand, bond with PFAS and separate them under a magnetic field. The RMNPs are reusable, highly efficient, and cost-effective, offering a customizable solution for specific pollutants.

3D Solar, Daniel Clark, Carmichael CA
3D Solar revolutionizes solar energy with highly efficient three-dimensional solar cells inspired by the biomimicry of insect eyes and sacred geometric shapes. These cells maximize energy production, capturing up to three times more power at nearly half the cost of conventional solar cells. Their miniaturized design allows for efficient assembly into 3D solar modules, overcoming the inefficiencies and high costs of existing solar panels.

The Spark Innovation Center was founded in 2020 and is headquartered at the UT Research Park. Between the Spark Cleantech Accelerator and Spark Incubator, Spark has supported 29 companies that have collectively raised $77 million, hired 108 full-time employees, and supported 44 interns. 82% of companies served still have an active presence in East Tennessee and 72% have employees physically located here. The Spark Innovation Center is supported by the University of Tennessee, the City of Knoxville, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Launch Tennessee, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Truist Foundation, and works in close partnership with the region’s Innov865 Alliance and the Heartland Climate Tech Partnership.

The curriculum will be led by Lilly Tench and the Spark Experts in Residence (EIR) team, John Bruck, Carol Seamons, and Bill Malkes, with support and mentorship provided by the Innovation Crossroad’s EIR team, Angelique Adams, John Derrick, and Gary Rawlings as well as the Energy Network coordinated by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, and other local partners such as the UT Haslam College of Business, the UT Center for Materials Processing, TVA, and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.