As ribbons of smoke began curling out of the power outlets on their Joule Case battery stack, Alex Livingston and James Wagoner tried to keep their cool.
The cameras were rolling. The entrepreneurs were competing on “All-American Makers,” a reality game show broadcast on the Discovery Channel, hoping to land $250,000 in venture capital. Livingston flushed.
The duo recovered from the mishap, which they said was caused by the hosts monkeying with the product before the show, quickly fixing their prototype with parts from Home Depot. In their on-air do-over, the repaired battery system successfully powered a mini fridge while simultaneously jump-starting an SUV with a dead battery. There were high-fives all around.
While the failed initial demo was a relatively minor setback for the Idaho-based startup (they didn’t win any funding from the 2015 TV showdown), their experience inadvertently illustrated a bigger truth: building a better battery is a difficult technical challenge.
Batteries are widely recognized as a crucial, clean-energy player in the struggle to stave off catastrophic climate change. They’re needed to replace petroleum-fueled engines in cars, trucks, airplanes and ships. Batteries are essential to electrical grids increasingly run off of wind and solar power, ensuring that the electrons keep flowing when the winds calm and the sun sets.
Read the entire story by Lisa Stiffler in Geekwire.