Commercializing New Batteries for a Zero Carbon Future: Q&A with Alex Girau
Success in commercializing new battery technologies requires a cross-functional and fundamental understanding of many different disciplines. However, solving these problems is often like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube — just because you solve one side does not mean the entire cube is solved. For Alex Girau, Founder of New Orleans-based battery company Advano, approaching battery design as a systems-level problem is the missing link for transforming new materials breakthroughs in the laboratory into globally impactful decarbonization technologies. In other words: new materials discovery is important, but it is essential to discover materials that are compatible with each other and can be produced in a scalable way.
Alex developed Advano’s core technology during his doctoral work at Tulane University, initially targeting applications in gene therapy. So what motivated the pivot into batteries? Scalable manufacturing was a critical value proposition of the underlying technology, and battery materials need to be produced easily at massive scale. Now nearly a decade into this effort, Alex espouses the value of incorporating sound chemical engineering principles, fundamental materials chemistry, and a data-centric approach from Day 1 of any new battery development effort.
In Episode 12, we’ll hear from Alex about what it takes to commercialize a new battery material: what are the biggest challenges facing the industry, where are the biggest opportunities, and what role can data and A.I. play in accelerating the process?
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Alex Girau is Founder of Advano. He has 14+ years experience in advanced materials, named inventor on 16+ patents and has designed over $2B in assets as a chemical process engineer for F500 companies. He is a Senior Venture Partner at Pioneer Fund, previously Visiting Researcher at Tulane University Department of Chemical Engineering, and an alumni of Y Combinator (S17). He holds an MS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Tulane University and a BS in Chemistry (Honors) and Mathematics from Loyola University.