It certainly catches the eye when a chief executive of a prerevenue start-up to berate the market for failing to support its vision when it has just collected £15m ($22m). But then Oxis Energy, a UK-based rechargable battery maker for electric bikes and cars, does have a strong position in battery storage systems. As Huw Hampson-Jones, chief executive at Oxis Energy (formerly known as IntelliKraft) since January 2010, said: “Over the past two years, it has become apparent to me that the European and North American energy companies lack the understanding of the significance of the Oxis Energy technological breakthrough, and its impact on the future method of propelling vehicles and energy storage.” However, he added: “Sasol fully understands the profound implications of this new chemistry and technology. Together we shall demonstrate this.” This was because, last month, Sasol, a South Africa-listed energy and chemicals company, invested the £15m as a single-tranche payment at the deal’s close for a 30% stake in Oxis. Henri Loubser, managing director of Sasol New Energy (SNE), said: “This strategic investment in Oxis Energy will allow Sasol to apply its extensive experience of commercialising and scaling up chemical processes to assist Oxis Energy in realising the full potential of the polymer lithium sulphur, [Poly Li-S,] technology they have devel-oped. Energy storage will be a critical link in the success of a low carbon mobility value chain.” Founded in the 1950s, Sasol was established to develop and utilise technology to convert some of South Africa’s extensive coal reserves into oil and gas, and associated chemicals. And when SNE was strategically looking at renewables one area of interest was battery power to store energy that can be irregularly produced but where the challenge is cost. Sasol’s confidence in its abilities meant it went to first principles, such as whether emerging technologies such as lithium-air, zinc-air and Poly Li-S could be better technologies than lithium-ion used by many existing electric battery makers, according to Loubser’s deputy, Cavan Hill. Hill added: “Once that was done we looked at the market at who was working in these area and saw Oxis. Oxis, in turn, realised their technology needed scaling and ommercialising and we could help.” Such potential collaborations between the two companies could include leveraging Sasol’s research and development expertise, chemical process commercialisation capabilities, and using Sasol’s laboratories. Hill said that, in the longer term, it Oxis’s technology could link with Sasol’s other demonstration plants on sources of renewable power…
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Case study: Oxis Energy
Oct 11, 2012 • Global Corporate Venturing
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