Boise, Idaho-based biomechanics startup M2E Power announced today that they have raised $8 million in Series A funding. The 22 month-old company’s investment was led by OVP Venture Partners with particiaption by @Ventures and Highway 12 Ventures. M2E has created a microgenerator and a battery storage system that can capture energy from the daily motions of the human body. The startup sees two main markets – one overseas improving the mobility of the DC-thirsty modern fighting unit and one in the U.S. giving extra juice to mobile consumer devices. M2E will be testing the units with the U.S. military in 2008.
Working in a lab at the U.S. Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Chief Scientist Eric Yarger used the principles of Faraday’s law of induction. The law states that moving a conductor through a magnetic field will induce a current in that conductor proportional to the speed of movement. The microgenerators actually fit inside existing batteries, can double the battery life, and can eliminate 30 to 40 percent of toxic heavy metals used in normal batteries, the company claims.
Effectively capturing the vibrations and motions of daily life is being worked on all over the world, including the Georgia Institute of Technology and German EnOcean, CNet reports. This week we also saw a presentation by a mechanical energy Russian startup QModule, at the Intel UC Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge. But 6-person M2E claims they have beaten their competitors by a five to seven fold in efficiency.
M2E is first tackling taking a load off of soldiers in the field. “Our first goal is to address the mobile power crisis our military is facing,” said M2E President David Rowe, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. The company has strong military connections as Yarger is himself a Vietnam War veteran with 20 years of experience in power generation. M2E’s technology could also help solve energy problems from mobile devices to large-scale generators.
M2E plans to use the money to hire 12-15 people, mostly engineers and lab technicians, in an effort to get their first product into the field sometime in 2008 with the military. Regan Warner-Rowe, M2E’s licensing and business development manager told IdahoStatesman.com that a recent survey puts expenditure per soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq on batteries alone at $57,000.
The company projects that scaled manufacturing costs would be about the same as traditional battery fabrication except with fewer toxins. They say the technology could cut in half the number of batteries going into landfills and reduce grid demands from rechargeable batteries.
Calling it revolutionary might be speculative, but the company’s investors certainly are excited. “This is a revolutionary, not evolutionary technology,” Mark Solon, a managing partner with Highway 12 Ventures, said. The potential is there and now so is the money. We’ll see how soon they can turn that capital into product.