Ontario could be the epicentre of the global energy transition, says Rob Alexander, CEO of Sarnia-based AlumaPower. His company’s breakthrough technology, a portable long-life energy source that runs on recycled aluminum as fuel, produces zero emissions while delivering over four times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries. We spoke with Alexander to learn more about the promise of aluminum and taking a circular approach to energy.
Describe your core offering(s). How is your organization contributing to a cleaner, greener future?
AlumaPower is built on one new offering, our aluminum-air galvanic generator. Essentially, we take post-consumer scrap aluminum, melt it into a solid fuel disk, and use the generator to spin that disk to create electricity and heat. It produces zero emissions, it can be a form of long-term energy storage, and we’re using a fuel – scrap aluminum – that is plentiful, and the most recycled material in the world. Aluminum is also a key resource in Canada.
We see our solution as a new power resource that could ultimately replace internal combustion engines. As part of our business model, we’re committed to full life-cycle stewardship. We can cast our disks using clean energy, such as wind or solar, and get 3.6 times the energy that we put into it. We can also support other industries, such as automotive, by using their waste materials. And we have plans to work with other markets to make use of aluminum trihydrate, the by-product of our process, in processes such as water treatment or products like fire suppressant.
Other than coffee, what gets you out of bed in the morning? How does this work connect with your core beliefs and values?
For more than three decades, I worked in manufacturing design, building organizations in $0-$100-million range that operated primarily in the automotive and agricultural automation sectors. I like to build fantastic organizations with great people and great values.
About 12 years ago, I met inventor Geoff Sheerin and partnered with him to start AlumaPower. Throughout my career, I’ve always hoped to have a positive impact. With AlumaPower, I want to build a company that uses a technology with incredible promise to help build a better place for future generations. That drive is what unites Geoff and me and our business partners.
Tell us about a recent win (or wins) or your organization.
We were fortunate to win a contract through Power Up!, a Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces program that sought innovative power storage and power generation solutions for dismounted soldiers.
What’s next for your organization?
We’re currently doing a Series A raise for US $14 million. This raise would fund us to our first product purchase orders. Our lives will be full of meetings with current and prospective investors, seeking that great fit and value-add shareholders to add to our existing ‘family’. It’s very validating to see the high degree of interest and excitement our story elicits.
We’re also excited about an upcoming design charrette with George Brown College’s Brookfield Sustainability Institute and several of our potential partners and customers. For three full days we’ll be locking ourselves in a room to brainstorm about our first use cases – it’s an exciting process!
After the charrette, we’ll work on a design cycle focused on building prototypes, probably with a specific focus on applications for EV charging. Since we’ve really got a platform technology that applies to many markets, we are also looking at other verticals and options to license the rights. Our ultimate mission is to have the biggest possible impact. We can do this by attracting other companies that are bigger and more capable to help commercialize the technology in their markets in Canada and around the world. We’re not going to do it alone.
Finally, what’s on your team’s wish list for Ontario’s cleantech sector?
The energy transition is a big opportunity for Ontario. With our technology and others, we have a chance to model a whole new ecosystem to the world. We need help from the government to help lead this transition, and to do it in a way that works for Ontario. From our perspective, we’re in the early stages of a multi-billion-dollar opportunity. Depending on how we play our cards, Ontario could be the epicentre of an important new lever driving that transition.
Get to know #ONcleantech! Each month, OCTIA will profile a different member company or organization. Want more Ontario clean technology content? Subscribe to our newsletter.