Founder and CEO, StorEn
Carlo Brovero and his partners aren’t the first Italian immigrants to seek their destinies in America – but they may be the first to get here riding the vanadium flow.
Brovero, chief executive officer of StorEn Technologies Inc., and his team of crack engineers – each a relatively recent U.S. arrival – are building upon the demonstrated fundamentals of vanadium-flow battery technology, adding their own proprietary innovations to increase performance, reduce size and lower production and performance costs.
It’s a potential energy-storage game-changer, encouraging visions of a sustainable clean-gen world. But for the team – including CTO Angelo D’Anzi, Senior Engineers Gianluca Piraccini and Maurizio Tappi and advisor Gabriele Colombo – this is familiar ground.
StorEn incorporated domestically in January 2017, but the battery bunch had worked on vanadium-flow technologies before, in their home country, eventually selling their R&D venture to a large Italian utility listed on Borsa Italiana, the Milan-based stock exchange.
Brovero, meanwhile, was cutting his teeth as a Europe-focused corporate finance analyst, soaking up international info on valuations, financing models and other critical business issues.
After selling off their Italian startup, Brovero et al. learned of the California Energy Storage Act, through which the government encourages local utilities to pursue energy-storage technologies – just one example of “the United States’ virtuous circle of cooperation between academic institutions, corporations and investors,” according to Brovero.
“This represented a great opportunity,” he notes. “We felt this unique ecosystem would be ideal.”
Ideal, that is, for developing the next big idea on the team’s list: shrinking down the vanadium-flow technology they’d experimented with in Italy.
Rechargeable vanadium-flow batteries use vanadium ions (in different oxidation states) to store chemical potential energy. Such batteries are already used throughout major industry, primarily as backup power sources, but those batteries are too big for smaller industrial uses, and certainly for residential uses.
Leveraging cutting-edge nanotechnologies, StorEn would look to develop more condensed prototypes suitable for smaller-load markets, including residential applications. And it would do it in America.
New York, in fact, which is where Brovero and his buddies hung StorEn’s shingle, attracted by Stony Brook University’s advanced R&D capabilities – and specifically by the prowess of SBU’s Clean Energy Business Incubationor Program (CEBIP) and Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC).
“The programs have made landing in the United States very smooth,” Brovero notes. “It was crucial to connect with local partners, and we are currently testing our battery at the AERTC with the co-financing of two New York State institutions.”
That unprecedented networking is precisely what the StorEn team envisioned when it emigrated to America – and a big reason why the enterprise has progressed so quickly on its “smaller is better” mission. StorEn’s next-generation prototype is currently being put through its paces by AERTC spinoff Unique Technical Services, which has engaged an array advanced engineering simulations and analyses.
The testing is an enormous part of StorEn’s short-term plans, according to Brovero, who says “our main goal for 2019 is industrializing the battery” – and notes with pride that the 2017 startup has already received its first commercial order.
“We want to shift from a prototype to methodologies for the production of the battery in large volumes and low cost,” the CEO says. “Additionally, we have received an order for three batteries to Australia. The first one will go around May, the other two in quarter four.”