Startup Sunday: This Silicon Valley firm designs solar-powered fashion

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Solar fashion

Silicon Valley tech-fashion startup Art by Physicist teamed up with ARMOR ASCA, an organic thin-film photovoltaics maker to produce solar-powered clothing.

The designs feature an overcoat and a dress adorned by a lotus-shaped organic photovoltaic film that allows wearers to charge their electronic devices on-the-go, up to 5V.

Image: ASCA

ASCA’s photovoltaic thin films are produced using a roll-to-roll coating process, which the company said greatly increases production speed. The rolls can produce up to 600 meters per minute using thermal transfer ribbons, compared to 10 meters per minute for conventional evaporation-based methods.

The ASCA PV thin-film can produce up to 40 W per meter squared, and weighs at most 500g per square meter.

Omnidian solar performance assurance

Omnidian, provider of residential, commercial, and industrial solar system performance plans secured $33 million in a series B funding round led by Activate Capital.

Third-party system diagnostics, performance monitoring, on-demand solar over-the-phone solar expert support, and performance guarantees are run by Omnidian. The company is also integrating machine-learning software into an internet of things (IoT) approach to enhance solar production, reliability, and safety.

The company said funds will enable expansion to new asset classes of energy storage and EV charging.

Lilac lithium brine extraction

Lilac Solutions has developed an ion exchange technology to increase production of lithium from brine resources. Recently, it secured $150 million in Series B funding to scale operations.

Lilac said lithium raw materials needed for batteries have become a bottleneck, which the company seeks to address.

Most of the world’s natural lithium reserves are found in natural salt water deposits called brines. The conventional extraction process requires large evaporation ponds that are environmentally damaging, slow to start up, and vulnerable to weather. Lilac said these ponds result in low and impure lithium recovery.

A lithium-extraction brine pool.
Image: Lilac Solutions

The company’s ion exchange beads extract lithium from brines without the need for evaporation ponds, a technology used in other metals extractions, but new to lithium. It said the result is faster extraction at a higher rate, with greater purity.

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