IPO Corner: Hot Bricks Build The Future

The future of energy could turn out to have a lot to do with something as ancient as civilization, and that we look at everyday without actually seeing: the brick. More specifically, the hot brick, and its potential as an energy storage device that could play a pivotal role in a better future for our species. Hot brick technology could have us one day living in a world where our home or office building could be its own energy supply.

No, we’re not kidding. Think of how that would absolutely revolutionize the world… it would trickle down into every aspect of society. But, before we go down the rabbit hole of imagination, we’ll stick to the basics and help tie those into the two companies we’re looking into in the IPO space this week, Rondo Energy and Antora Energy, because we see potential there and we’re excited to talk about these super early-stage entries into this space.

In The Walls

So far, technologies proposed to fix our energy crisis have been… a bit limited in imagination. Not to say they aren’t impactful, but what they aren’t typically addressing is the fact that we need to find ways to work with the resources we already have. With the rapid changes in society and the world, we need to consider very carefully where and how we get our resources, and where and how we use them. Brick energy storage does speak to that in a somewhat meaningful capacity.

So, researchers have figured out that bricks can do some pretty wonderous things under the right conditions, including storing energy. This isn’t a hypothetical technology or imaginary scenario, either. Innovators in the space have been able to store energy in bricks, which could be embedded inside building walls and used to power their surroundings. Now that’s our idea of a “smart house”.

Usually, when we talk about a “smart” home, we’re told we need more gadgets and wires… but, in the future, are we more likely to do more with less? We think so, and hot bricks for energy storage is a step in that right direction. All it takes is for a specific chemical treatment to be applied to certain bricks, and then these bricks can store energy and discharge electricity. That’s because this process does something neat, it turns the brick into a supercapacitor.

Also, bricks are some of the world’s cheapest and most familiar building materials. Lots of experts in the space are thinking the same… researchers from MIT have even proposed that we use a new hot brick technology, called Firebrick Resistance-Heated Energy Storage (FIRES), to help the world transition to energy that doesn’t destroy us to source and distribute. We would simply be using bricks as a repository for excess electric energy. As the saying goes, what is old becomes new again.

Deals To Watch

The companies we’re looking at today are early birds, but don’t let that fool you, they are both already dropping the “little guy” status and starting to partner with heavy hitters in the energy space. We’ll be looking at Rondo Energy and Antora Energy. Rondo Energy is bringing the world profitable industrial decarbonization, now. The company makes a hot brick battery with temperatures exceeding 1200°C, which delivers continuous, high temperature heat so customers can power operations with zero-carbon energy.

We don’t have to tell you how enticing that sounds with the energy environment as it is at present. Early in the year, Rondo was able to close a $22 million Series A funding round. But, what’s really impressive about this feat is the leaders of the funding round, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Energy Impact Partners, two big dog investment firms in deep decarbonization and electrification. The funds are going toward additional projects, including the manufacture and delivery of customer systems.

Antora Energy is a startup in the bay area that stores carbon-free energy by heating metal blocks to extremely high temperatures until they glow so brightly that they can produce a beam of light that can either produce electricity on demand or heat energy-intensive industrial processes. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s like something out of a movie, except the movie is now real. We sometimes forget we are living in the future; Antora’s light-beam bricks are proof.

The company fits their mechanism into a shipping-container-sized modular box… if you can imagine that. Some journalists have described it as a giant toaster, and we’ll not try to add onto an already perfect description. These super-heated graphite blocks can deliver grid power or industrial heat, and they’re on the come up.

The company, which launched in 2018, was able to secure $50 million from Bill Gates’ Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, and others earlier this year. The mission of the firm now is to decarbonize heavy industry with renewable heat and power as cheap as fossil fuels while zeroing out emissions in the hardest-to-decarbonize industries on earth. Backers are betting on Antora, and we can see why… the technology is looking incredibly promising.

So, are you ready for a new kind of home or office? One where there aren’t cables and wires all over? Where your relationship with the power company looks very different? We are… imagine a life where your home heats itself and entire walls are able to power your blender and tablet. It’s exciting to think about, and we sure hope that one of these newcomers will end up on our Buy List as they mature. Come back next week for more of the latest from the world of IPOs!