Impact

 

Chain Reaction Innovations’ impact is far-reaching in its eighth 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 in May 2024 is $643 million. *In addition, the program helped create 679 jobs to date, of which 141 were internships.

Demographic categories for economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses follow the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science definitions.

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. Learn more from our Fact Sheet.

CRI startup working at Argonne National Laboratory

Adaxius Technology Taps The Enormous Potential of Carbon Nanotubes

Just as building a better battery is key to the future of the electric vehicle (EV), so is developing next-generation materials to protect them. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) — atom-thin rolls of carbon that are stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum — have the extraordinary properties necessary to create strong, lightweight, safe casings for lithium-ion batteries, the most common type of EV battery.

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GOLeafe Produces Graphene from Organic Materials to Cut Costs, Energy

A million times thinner than paper, more conductive than copper, and stronger than a diamond, graphene has boundless potential. Dubbed a “wonder” material, graphene is a two-dimensional mesh of carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a honeycomb lattice. Despite its promise, current graphene production methods are limited by high manufacturing costs, as well as health and environmental risks.

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CRI startup working at Argonne National Laboratory

Kazadi Technology Harnesses Ambient Heat as Primary Energy Source

Building on years of research, Kazadi, a member of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) Cohort 5, is developing technology that uses water and salt to capture heat in the air. By harnessing this universal energy source, the technology has applications for bringing cooling solutions to populations unprepared for the record heat levels driven by global warming.

 

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CRI startup working at Argonne National Laboratory

Phase3D Ushers in New Era of In-Situ Inspection for Metal Additive Manufacturing

Part of the 3D printing explosion, metal additive manufacturing (AM) is transforming the manufacturing industry. Metal additive manufacturing uses data computer-aided-design software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit fine metal powders, layer upon layer, to create 3D objects. Along with benefits like savings in costs, energy, and time, metal AM can produce highly complex geometries that are impossible to achieve in traditional manufacturing.

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Piersica on Track to Revolutionize Solid-State Batteries

Piersica wants to accelerate progress in scalable strategies for solid-state batteries, which have the potential to outperform lithium-ion technology. While lithium-ion batteries are the most used battery type in electric vehicles (EVs) today, chemist Claudiu Bucur is on a mission to change that. Bucur, who has experience as a top battery researcher at multinational corporations including Toyota, wants to develop the next generation of solid-state batteries to power EVs and other high-energy applications.

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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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CRI startup working at Argonne National Laboratory

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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Quantum Random Number Generator Increases Security

The search for the mysterious axion particle, believed to exist in dark matter, inspired the creation of a technology that uses quantum optics to rapidly generate numbers that are truly random. The generation of truly random numbers is at the heart of cyber security, and cyber security is critical to a range of applications.

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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, is the brainchild of Kevin O’Connor, founder of Caporus Technologies.

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Rapid, Inexpensive Water Pathogen and 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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Improving Combustion Through Plasma

Felipe Gomez del Campo 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.

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Revving Up Low-Carbon Diesel Engines

After raising about $2 million in funding, Chicago-based ClearFlame Engine Technologies 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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