Ukrainian inventor Serhii Kaminskyi patents a revolutionary battery that will modernize the global energy market
Serhii Kaminskyi is a Ukrainian entrepreneur and inventor from Kirovohrad region, founder of Clean Energy Technologies. In 2019, Serhii gathered a team of scientists from Lviv, Chernivtsi, and Kyiv and opened the R&D Center on the premises of Promprylad.Renovation innovation center. Kaminskyi’s research group is the only one in Ukraine supported by the Nobel Foundation. At Promprylad, scientists are developing unique carbon-based solar energy batteries from agricultural waste. As Serhii Kaminskyi himself notes, it is not just about creating stationary energy storage units, but it’s about “the transition to a new civilization” in a global sense. Serhii Kaminskyi talks about the advantages of Ukrainian technology over Tesla batteries, funding from Google, and plans for global expansion.
The cutting-edge Ukrainian invention as an opportunity to solve a global environmental problem
Since 2019, researchers at Promprylad have been creating a unique product—solar energy batteries without lithium. Lithium-ion cells, which are used in many electronic devices, are harmful to the environment, pose a risk of combustion, and are difficult to dispose of. According to research, by 2030, the amount of lithium-ion battery waste in the world can reach two million tons per year.
In the process of developing the batteries, Serhii Kaminskyi’s team of scientists doesn’t use any substances that are difficult to dispose of. Such stationary energy storage devices can be used by industrial facilities, small businesses, and ordinary households. And they will be manufactured using a carbon material from agricultural waste.
In the workflow, they utilize carbonization technology, which means charring organic matter without access to oxygen. They are also working on the possibility to use recycled plastic and other waste.
«Initially, these will be batteries designed for stationary use. In other words, these are energy storage devices for large companies: power plants, condominiums (for example, each apartment building can have an energy storage device connected to the grid in the basement). In principle, our batteries can also be used for electric vehicles, but they are slightly larger than lithium-ion batteries, so we cannot compete with them in terms of size, although all other parameters are generally better. That’s why we’re focused on stationary energy storage units.
In other words, these will be large power banks that will be able to supply electricity to consumers ranging from small houses to entire city blocks,” explains Serhii Kaminskyi.
When comparing his invention to Tesla’s batteries, the inventor emphasizes improved performance in terms of the number of recharges, charging speed, and prime cost. At the same time, carbon batteries are larger than lithium-ion batteries, so it is difficult to use them in electric vehicles. As Serhii Kaminskyi himself explains, if a lithium-ion battery in a Tesla car is replaced with a carbon battery of the same size, the electric car will travel 140 km instead of 400 km, but it will cost four times less.
“We are talking about a type of our batteries that already exist and are undergoing testing. In addition, we are developing a solid-state battery (solid-state electronics). The aforementioned Tesla with such a battery will be able to travel 650 km. This will be a battery meant for applications that require high energy density. Moreover, we are developing a battery with a density of 1,200 Wh/kg. To make it clear, the same Tesla would be able to drive 1,100 km with it,” says Serhii.
The developed carbon batteries can already be used in electric vehicles, such as taxis for short distances or city buses that can accommodate very large carbon batteries.
Challenges in implementing the project and support from Google
According to Serhii Kaminskyi, the main problem for many startups is the transition from lab samples to scaling. The so-called “valley of death” is a crisis stage in the lifecycle of business innovations. The Ukrainian inventor managed not only to move from laboratory research to production, but also to improve the efficiency parameters.
“All thіs time, we have been working with certified carbon material of our own design. We have now started the process of certifying the batteries made from this material and applying for the relevant patents. We are undergoing certification in the United States and the European Union. In February 2023, we filed our first US Provisional Patent. This means that we are on the way to global protection of our company’s intellectual property.”
In December 2022, as part of the Google for Startups Ukraine Support Fund campaign, 50 (out of 1,500) Ukrainian startups were selected and provided with financial, mentoring, and product support from Google. Among the winners, Serhii Kaminskyi’s team was probably the only hardware startup, while the others were mostly from the IT sector.
At present, the main task of Kaminskyi’s team is to launch production and establish the supply of batteries to real customers who would test them in real conditions.
Lab at Promprylad and the creation of an innovation campus in Ivano-Frankivsk region
Serhii Kaminskyi’s research laboratory is located in Ivano-Frankivsk, on the premises of Promprylad.Renovation innovation center. The team of scientists has been working here since 2019. Even before the outbreak of the full-scale war, they had actually completed the R&D process, confirmed the high-end parameters of the carbon battery, and started preparing for scaling. At that time, Serhii Kaminskyi assembled a team of not only scientists, but also engineers and technologists who would work not only on the development but also on the implementation of the batteries in real life. They started to manufacture the equipment for the pilot production when the full-scale war began.
“After the full-scale invasion began, we decided to stay in Ivano-Frankivsk. It was very difficult, because all the equipment we produced was designed and manufactured in Ukraine. We worked at night when we had the electricity. We can say that we tripled our efforts to be useful to the country, including in the energy sector. Because a battery is, as we have all experienced, a very important element of energy. It is also an element of freedom and independence. It’s also very important to achieve decentralization in the energy sector, which is, in fact, my global goal,” says Serhii.
Currently, the laboratory at Promprylad continues to operate, and the developers plan to present the project to the US market. The entire process related to the creation and protection of intellectual property, as well as the attraction of financial resources, will be concentrated here. The United States will provide investments to create research and production facilities that will be located in Ukraine. This includes the development of the laboratory at Promprylad.
“We aim to be a global company, which means we need to start with the US. We are currently in a dialog with the Federal Government. We have received support from the State Department. In fact, part of our team is in the United States for acceleration with the support of the State Department,” shares the inventor.
Serhii’s ambitious plans include the creation of an autonomous energy-independent settlement in Ukraine. The science town will be built around a plant that will manufacture carbon batteries and other alternative energy products. The developers have already acquired land for this project, which will be implemented in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.
“Actually, that’s the reason why I moved from Kyiv to Ivano-Frankivsk some time ago, since I saw prospects for my project of the city of the future here. It happened after a meeting with Yuriy Fylyuk, CEO of the Promprylad.Renovation project, who invited me to Promprylad. Now we will start real sales of batteries and increase our production capabilities. And then we plan to move on to the implementation of the science town,” notes Serhii.
Currently, the startup’s developers have already received orders for carbon batteries from companies in the United States and the EU. But as the inventor himself notes: “This product is a transition to a new civilization. And the battery is just one of the tools for this transition.”