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🤖 "Sustainability via Nanotechnology"


Photo by Clyde He / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: James McWalter
Guest: Hunter McDaniel | Founder & CEO | UbiQD
Category: 🤖 Technology | Advanced Materials

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:12] “[UbiQD is] a deep tech advanced materials company spinoff from Los Alamos National Laboratory. […] Our purpose is about leveraging nanomaterials to make lasting positive impacts on society. […] We're most passionate about trying to address issues related to climate change. And the core technology is material that's effective at manipulating light. You can change one color of light into another very high efficiency. […] Primarily, we're focused on deploying that into the facades of buildings to make the building more efficient, leveraging the power that's coming from the sun.”

[7:55] “There [were] really only […] a couple tangent markets, prior to UbiQD, […] related to display and lighting, just making a very accurate light source. […] But people talked about using quantum dots for sunscreen and therapeutics and diagnostics and solar and really any application involving light, there's probably a way you can use quantum dots to make it more efficient. But those just didn't quite make it. And our argument, the thesis was, it was really the toxicity of those compounds, […] but then also the cost. It's very difficult to control that nucleation stuff. […] You couldn't for a long time make very large reactors, you'd have to mix together two things very fast. […] So with our technology, we don't have to mix things together at high temperatures rapidly, we just basically heat up and mix. And then we don't have any of those toxic heavy metals present.”

[13:16] “One of the most interesting properties of [a luminescent solar concentrator] is that it's partially transparent. You can […] make it darker if you put more quantum dots there, but you can make it lighter, just like any other window tint would look. And then that really enables you to harvest sunlight from glass, from windows. And that's probably the biggest market that we're pursuing. It's a difficult product, it's a difficult market, when your value proposition is primarily around energy, but it has the potential to really solve climate change if we can convert all this glass which is ubiquitous […]. And if we can convert that into energy generators at a low enough cost with a high enough efficiency, then we can make these buildings no longer loads on the grid, but assets for the grid. And they could provide their own power, but then even maybe power the buildings nearby […] And that's the vision, it's about reducing our carbon footprint of buildings.”

[22:27] “We have a product line, a brand called UbiGrow […] and it's a retrofit film, about four foot wide, any arbitrary length that you hang up in an existing greenhouse. And it essentially makes your roof glow down on the plant. So we can make different colors, but across a range of trials, we found that this orange color was kind of a catch all. […] [With] this first product […] we've seen results as high as maybe 30 or so percent yield improvement for tomatoes, […] cucumbers, lettuce, cannabis, strawberries, some other crops. […] And we've got a pipeline of different products, different colors and form factors and things that we're going to bring to the greenhouse industry.”

[33:10] “A traditional advanced material company is seeking to supply an additive into a supply chain. […] So the business model for them is a manufacturer of quantum dots and then they supply technology, they license technology. And that's very common for advanced materials. It's a very high margin business, because you've got that licensing component, but it's limited in terms of your ability to capture value.”

[34:37] “We recognized that early on, […] and some VCs didn't like it. They want to see more revenue potential and also the timescale can be longer, because you're relying on these downstream partners to go do something. […] And we didn't really have the time to wait. And also, we were doing something very different than what was existing in the marketplace with the greenhouse film. […] So we manufacture the dots, we organize the manufacture of finished products through contract manufacturing, […] in some cases, that maybe looks more like distribution, but we pull it through the supply chain, so we don't have to wait. And then we go directly to the end user and sell them the products. So we capture 100% of that revenue on the final sale. And that is a much more venture backable type business model, because your addressable market is essentially the entire market at that point, not just the additive.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

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🕰️ 40 min | 🗓️ 03/29/2022
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