W7Energy, the Delaware Innovation Space-based startup with University of Delaware-developed technology, has been awarded $3.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, according to UDaily.
The funds will help advance and commercialize a new class of polymer membranes used to develop affordable zero-emission fuels cells for electric cars.
Founded by Yushan Yan, the Henry B. du Pont chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UD and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, W7Energy got started in late 2017 when it received a $150,000 early startup grant from UD and the Unidel Foundation. It also received a $78,000 investment by UD’s Horn Entrepreneurship while based at the university.
In December 2018, W7Energy received a $50,000 FastPass Award from the Delaware Innovation Space, located on the DuPont Experimental Station campus. That equity-free startup package included a free year of lab space and access to all facilities, equipment and business mentoring.
In September, W7Energy received one of the first $100,000 Delaware EDGE Grants for STEM startups, and has also landed about $1 million so far in investment.
“Having the initial support from Horn, Unidel and Delaware Innovation Space allowed us to become operational more quickly,” Yan told UDaily. “This permitted the team to advance both the company and the technology, all of which allowed us to be competitive in going after funding from the Department of Energy, and later, the state of Delaware.”
The technology W7Energy is developing is a class of chemically stable, ionically conductive hydroxide exchange membranes for hydrogen or ammonia fuel cells. These fuel cells produce zero emissions, which the startup — and the public and private entities that support it — hopes to be the standard in vehicles in the relatively near future.