The team at Moment Energy initially didn't set out to solve the multi-billion dollar problem of what to do with old electric batteries.
The founding team of chief executive Edward Chiang, chief operating officer Sumreen Rattan, chief product officer Gurmesh Sidhu, and chief technology officer Gabriel Soares wanted to find a way to cure anxiety with a brain stimulating device.
Friends from their days studying in the Mechatronic Systems Engineering Program at Canada's Simon Fraser University, the founders of Moment Energy wanted to tackle a big problem -- and mental health was certainly a fit.
But around the end of 2019, the team realized that their respective backgrounds weren't a great fit for tackling mental health. Without expertise in neuroscience and psychology -- and facing the years-long process of receiving regulatory approvals -- the team pivoted to address one of the world's other great crises -- climate.
The four founders spent the first quarter of 2020 doing customer research by grabbing any second-life batteries they could get their hands on. After four months of tinkering the team deployed its first pack in a pilot project in the summer of 2020.
That deployment involved a two-day road trip across Canada to reach a renewable energy test center in Winnipeg. The early test gave the team confidence in the technology, and from there, it was a matter of scaling up to support the expected demand.
And the demand is coming. Industry analysts expect the number of electric vehicles on roads around the world to rise from 11 million in 2020 to 145 million in 2030, according to a recent article in Science. And each of those vehicles could contain as much as 7,000 batteries -- meaning 1 billion batteries will be in electric vehicle production alone by the start of the next decade.
These batteries don't last forever and finding out ways to repurpose them will be one of the great challenges for the new era of electric mobility.
That's the opportunity investors like Fika Ventures, Version One Ventures, and My Climate Journey saw in Moment Energy.
The company already has a few customers among the off-grid lodges, resorts, and aquaculture sites looking to swap out their diesel generators for electric power. Long term, the company wants to tackle the commercial and industrial storage and backup power market, according to Rattan.
For companies looking to make the switch, cost is the big influencer. "They're two-thirds the price of new alternative energy storage solutions," Rattan said. And they're likely going to be subsidized.
Moment's systems are 60 kilowatt hour storage units and the company is developing new 120 kW-h systems. "Our goal is to deploy 80 60 kW-h systems" by next year, Rattan said.
Moment isn't the only startup trying to tackle the problem by repurposing old batteries into new storage systems. Relectrify, RePurpose Energy, and ReJoule Energy, are also all in the market and have raised a few million dollars to develop their technologies.
Now is a good time to be a first mover in the North American market though. Europe is mandating that companies have ways to recycle or repurpose their batteries and Rattan said that the same regulations are likely heading to North America as well.
"That legislation is coming," she said. "That's what we're leveraging is helping them get ahead of the game."