Critical need for this technology
When a civilian’s phone battery dies, they can go to Starbucks and recharge it. When a soldier’s battery dies, they are at great bodily risk. Mesodyne solves this problem by converting fuel to electricity so that the soldier would only carry a generator and fuel, resulting in a 75% weight reduction compared with batteries on a 72-hour mission. To put it simply, Mesodyne generates watts of electricity, at the fuel flow of a lighter, in the palm of your hand.
Mesodyne faces competition from present military batteries: the standard BA-5590 (non-rechargeable) and BB-2590 (rechargeable) batteries – manufactured by a handful of well-established brands – as well as proprietary batteries for radios and specialized equipment. Although batteries are approaching their theoretical energy density limit, they represent a highly entrenched incumbent because the U.S. Army has millions of pieces of equipment designed around these batteries. Furthermore, these competitors have deeply entrenched relationships throughout the military procurement processes. Thus, Mesodyne’s first product, the PocketSun, will charge batteries rather than directly replace them.
- Primary: U.S. military
- Secondary: Emergency response, mountaineering, remote sensors, drone flight sustainment, and more
Value proposition: Our first product – the PocketSun – is a small, lightweight, portable generator that converts fuel into electricity. PocketSun provides a solution for portable power in the form of a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) generator. This technology enables portable, reliable, and affordable energy generation. The technology works by using combustion to heat a thermal emitter to incandescence which leads to radiation which drives photovoltaic (PV) cells to generate electricity. This process enables the creation of a micro-generator that can provide power within the 1-100 W range. This technology functions with few moving parts, increasing its durability and reliability for portable use. These elements make Mesodyne’s solution the first micro-generator that is lightweight, efficient, and silent.
The critical component in Mesodyne’s new approach to thermophotovoltaics is the development of a practical photonic crystal. The technology works by converting fuel to electricity using heat and light as intermediaries. Specifically, propane combustion to heat a photonic crystal emitter to incandescence, leading to thermal radiation, which drives specialized photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. The result is watts of electricity from the fuel flow of a lighter.
R&D status of product
We have demonstrated the world record TPV efficiency (5% fuel-to-electricity) in a bench top experiment in January 2017 and are currently designing our fully portable prototype. While most of the basic science questions have been answered, there are still many engineering challenges left.
Co-Founder and CEO
Veronika Stelmakh [add link to corresponding “Innovator” webpage when ready]
B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Walker Chan [no corresponding “Innovator” webpage as he is not formally part of the CRI program]
B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Estimated annual revenue:NA
Social challenge:Energy management
R&D commercial collaborator:NA