Chain Reaction Innovations’ impact is far-reaching as it enters its sixth year of embedding early-stage entrepreneurs at Argonne National Laboratory. CRI’s first cohort graduated in June 2019, amassing millions in investment. The combined total raised by CRI innovators to date in August 2022 is $365 million. In addition, the program helped create 434 jobs to date.

Innovators and the CRI team work together to advance cutting-edge technologies that offer clean energy solutions to climate change. This support allows startups to bring their deep tech to market more quickly. There are many impacts realized by the CRI program.

Check out CRI Fast Facts more info on the program’s impact.

Quantum Dot Microchip for High-Performance Infrared Camera

A silicon microchip coated with mercury telluride (HgTe) quantum dots has the ability to make high-performance infrared cameras more economical for industrial and commercial use – primarily for defense applications, but also for night-vision systems used in cars. The coated microchip, known as an infrared imaging array, is the creation of QDIR.

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Li-ion Battery Cells with Nanoscale Silicon Particles

Silicon has long been recognized by researchers as a potential battery material to enable high performance at lower cost. But the properties of silicon, namely its thermal expansion when used as an electrode, have prohibited its adoption to date. A battery cell that incorporates nanoscale silicon particles may help accelerate electric vehicle adoption by reducing vehicle weight, charge time and carbon emissions.

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Organic Molecules for Thinner & Greener Electronics

A crystalline powder can help preserve natural resources, create ultra-thin cell phones, reduce CO₂ emissions, provide lighting and enable more sustainable consumer electronics. This new enabling platform of organic materials was the innovation brought by Margaret Kocherga, founder of Margik and a Chain Reaction Innovations’ (CRI) Cohort 4 innovator.

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De-Carbonizing Transportation

Real-world testing confirms Aeromutable’s Aerodynamic Add-On Active Flow Control Device dramatically reduces fuel consumption. Aeromutable’s active aerodynamic modification system senses the environment around the vehicle and uses an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered controller to determine how to change the aerodynamic profile using air injection.

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Electrolyzer Recycles CO2 Waste and Helps Fight Climate Change

A novel electro-catalytic process has the ability to convert CO2 emissions into valuable materials —a process that could help reduce climate change. “Our mission is to enable companies to meet carbon neutrality goals by using their CO2 emissions to make revenue-generating, renewable products,” Calvinho said.

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Quantum Dot Ink for Augmented & Virtual Reality, Displays

When particles become small enough at the nanoscale, they can have a quantum effect on light. Nanomaterials like this are in demand for augmented reality, virtual reality, smart watch, smartphone, microLED and organic LED displays. Without nanomaterials, a display screen, such as an augmented reality headset can look grainy and in one color.


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Dielectric with Nanoscale Porosity Improves Electrical Power Conversion

A very thin, white-colored dielectric film –only one-millionth of a meter thick—has the ability to improve power conversion, as well as decrease the size and weight of components for electric vehicles.

This slim but mighty film, for which a U.S. patent was issued in July 2020, was the brainchild of Kevin O’Connor, founder of Caporus Technologies.

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Rapid, Inexpensive Water Pathogen & Toxin Testing

Did you know that microorganisms, such as bacteria, have protein sensors that can detect toxins and pathogens?

Imagine being able to take a piece of paper, dip it in a liquid solution filled with sensors purified from bacteria and detecting if your water has heavy metals or pathogens like Legionella, instantaneously and affordably, without sending a sample to a lab.

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Nanocomposite for more Efficient Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Imagine one day in the future when vehicles emit water vapor, instead of polluting the air we breathe and spewing out CO2 that contributes to global warming.

For decades, scientists and manufacturers wanted to make hydrogen fuel cells better and more efficient so this clean form of energy, which emits water vapor instead of CO2, would be adopted and help decarbonize the planet.


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NUMiX Materials Poised to Revolutionize Heavy Metal Harvesting

NUMiX Materials, the brainchild of CEO Katie Kollhoff and her team of multi-disciplinary engineers, has an ambitious vision. The company seeks to help stabilize the U.S. critical materials supply chain by harvesting metals from electric car batteries that otherwise would end up in landfills. Currently these metals are imported but the goal is to re-use them, making the U.S. less dependent upon overseas production.

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On the Roof – Prototype Installed for Harnessing Wind Energy

Near the center of Argonne National Laboratory’s sprawling, 1,700-acre campus sits Building 212, an industrial-looking, red-brick structure that was built decades ago. Recently, a modern and innovative touch was added to this otherwise non-descript building – one that could have major implications on the U.S. renewable energy market.


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Closing a $4.8M Investment Round for Sustainable Protein

Emergy Foods has raised $4.8 million series seed from major investors – Congruent, Prelude, New Crop Capital, Better, 50 Years, March Fund, Trust, and Bluestein Associates, among others – that will help the company advance plans for producing sustainable protein. This includes moving its headquarters from Chicago to Boulder, Colorado in June; adding staff; and advancing its research and development capabilities and as well as its production space.


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Improving Combustion Through Plasma

Felipe Gomez del Campo, a startup founder and CEO as well as a graduate of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), is developing new ways of improving combustion with the help of plasma. Plasma is a state of matter similar to a gas but with many charged, energetic particles. Gomez del Campo’s company, FGC Plasma Solutions, is using plasma to transform combustion technologies used in aerospace, national security, and other energy-related fields.

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Revving Up Low-Carbon Diesel Engines

After raising about $2 million in funding, Chicago-based ClearFlame Engines is preparing for its next stage in developing a market-ready product: testing its low-carbon, high- performance engine in customer pilot demonstrations within the next 12 to 18 months.




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