New Dominion Enterprises Awarded $2.2 Million in SBIR Funding
New Dominion Enterprises, Inc. (NDE), a member of the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator, has been awarded two Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards from the Air Force’s AFWERX program for its battery additive technology. The San Antonio-based startup’s innovation improves the performance of lithium batteries.
NDE will receive $1.25 million over 21 months to create better wearable batteries and $962,500 over 14 months to make enhanced tactical radio battery packs.
AFWERX accelerates innovation by teaming technology developers up with Air Force talent. The Air Force’s program office overseeing commands that use tactical radios signed a memorandum of understanding with NDE for the funding. Specialists in the Air Force and other military branches rely on tactical radios to call in air combat support on challenging missions that often take place in remote, hostile areas.
“We’re providing improved performance in the power supply for their tactical radios,” CEO Jay Fraser said. “The end-users are the air support operations squadrons that will field test the radios using our batteries.”
In addition to military uses, the startup’s technology has commercial applications and high-energy batteries for electric vehicles and utility grid energy storage. The new funding will help NDE scale operations to partner with companies and develop more commercial uses for its battery additive; the startup currently has eight companies evaluating its technology for commercial uses.
“We believe we have a big market to explore,” CTO Tim McArthur said. “We also think our battery additive has some medical applications.”
Whereas elements in traditional lithium batteries make them prone to overheating and even catching on fire, NDE’s alternative battery additive is safer, more durable, and longer lasting.
“With our additive, you can get the same amount of power from a smaller battery configuration, or if you keep the same footprint, you’ll get more power,” Fraser said. “In every situation, every customer has a different requirement for their power cells, so we need to work closely with the customer to ensure we’re meeting their needs with the right combination of material and batteries.”
Since the beginning of 2021, NDE has received more than $3 million in non-dilutive funding. Throughout the last two years, the startup completed two prior SBIR contracts with AFWERX. This year, NDE aims to launch a $3 million seed funding round.
“We have a product, we know how to manufacture it, and we can prove it works in real-world use cases,” Fraser said. “That success can translate over to the commercial market. This is a significant opportunity for us to develop this for the military by the end of Phase II.”
Looking ahead, the company aims to grow its team of five. They plan to hire program managers with backgrounds working on technical projects, chemists for analytical chemistry lab work, and in the long term, a COO.
Additionally, Fraser said NDE anticipates at least one to three commercial licenses for its proprietary technology this year. The company has pilot programs to develop an improved battery for a Formula E racecar and to improve batteries used in a classified program for a large defense contractor.