In the last episode of Talk Energy with YES-Europe we interviewed Anders Tiegland, the CEO of Tio Tech. We talked about his start-up, their technology, and how he ended up being CEO, and, right at the end, we even managed to ask if we had any advice for young professionals and students that want to work in the energy sector. 

Before you start reading, we have selected some relevant words and terms (marked bold) written in this article and explained them on a list at the end.

This start-up created a patented titanium dioxide nanoparticle used as anode material in Lithium-ion batteries, called TitanB. Their specialty is nanotechnology and they were able to create a battery with:

  • Longer lifetime: Lithium-ion batteries last up to 10.000 cycles. Standard Lithium-ion batteries with graphite anodes last about 2500-3000 cycles.
  • Shorter charging times: A Lithium-ion cell with TitanB can be charged to 80% within 6 minutes. In a standard Lithium-ion cell, the same operation would take 25-30 minutes.

Both these aspects are important to optimize the charging process which is crucial to the energy transition. As our guest, Anders Tiegland puts it “There isn’t an Energy Crisis there is an energy storage crisis”. 

TIO TECH in a nutshell according to their CEO

Tio Tech’s mission is to speed up the green shift using durable solutions, created with state-of-the-art nanotechnology. It’s a material company that differentiated itself from other companies on the market with its production processes. 

Our guest joked that If we looked at the material they most use – Titanium Dioxide – we would quickly conclude that is the “most boring material in the world”. It is a white pigment. We’ve got it all around us. In this episode, Anders explains how they managed to explore that run-of-the-mill material to revolutionize the Lithium-ion battery. 

Using this material Tio Tech can create batteries that can last for 10.000 cycles and be charged in a fraction of the time it usually takes. These features are fundamental for the Energy Transition. Anders gave an excellent example for their battery application: ferries. Usually, a trip takes 30 minutes and they stop for 5 minutes. It runs continually, and it has very little time to charge so they need a battery that has a very long life and that can be charged quickly.  

Ander’s Journey to CEO

Anders grew up in a small village in Norway. In college, he decided to study nanotechnology. Afterwards, he realized that nobody wanted to hire him because his field of expertise was so recent. He had to either invest in the academic field or get into a startup world. So, in 2018 he got hired as a scientist at a small Norwegian start-up doing nanomaterials which became Tio Tech. 

Later on, Tio Tech’s Board Members invited Anders to become acting CEO. Even though he wasn’t expecting to be offered that role, he happily accepted. What most excited him about nanotechnology was “…how can I convert our knowledge into something that customers might buy.”. Our guest confided in us how the start-up world gave me just the right environment to get this awesome opportunity. 

Surprisingly Anders said that the scary part wasn’t being CEO it was letting go, not being involved in the day-to-day process of the company, and delegating. Letting people do their own thing, make mistakes, and learn from them. 

Anders Teigland also shared his thoughts on Tio Tech’s technology advantages and limitations; the lifetime waste of their battery; its possible applications for solid-state batteries and also gave insight into how his start-up received funding and their journey and more. 

So if you want to know more about this white pigment that is changing energy storage go check out this episode available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Ximalaya.

Term List

Nanoparticle – A particle that is less than 100 nanometers in size, it is usually not more than a few hundred atoms (if that seems like a lot, keep in mind that a grain of sand has 5*10^9 atoms). When particles have this size their properties change to make them more malleable and changeable by scientists and engineers.  

Anode-material – This material is the negative terminal of the battery. It’s where the electrons, that are released from chemical reactions inside the battery, are stored. This way when you connect some component to the battery, the electrons on the negative terminal flow to the positive terminal of the battery. Passing through the component and giving it electric energy. 

Cathode-material – This material is the positive terminal of the battery. Where there are positive ions (atoms without some of their electrons). This material will attract the electrons on the negative terminal.

Lithium-ion batteries – In these types of batteries, the anode material is Lithium and Graphite. Lithium will lose 1 electron, turning into Lithium-Ion. The cathode material is Cobalt and Oxygen, the Cobalt will lose als 1 electron to the Oxygen because positively charged. 

Cycle – The positive terminal will attract the free electrons in the negative terminal. When you connect an electric component, like a lamp, these electrons will flow to the positive terminal, going through the component and giving it electricity. 

After a while, the electrons on the positive terminal will attract the positive Lithium Ions on the negative terminal to balance out the charges on the battery. 

Finally, when all the Lithium Ions and Electrons pass from the negative terminal to the positive terminal the battery is discharged. So to charge it, we need to connect it with an energy supply that forces the electrons to flow from the positive side back to the negative side. The Lithium Ions will be attracted by electrons and go back to the negative terminal.  

This process is equivalent to one cycle of a Lithium Ion battery.

Discharging Process: Red Plus Signs – Lithium Ions; Blue Sphere – Electrons; Layer on the Left – Anode; Black Spheres – Graphite; White Layer – Electrolyte; Layer on the Righ – Cathode; White Spheres with Black Smal Spheres – Cobalt and Oxygen

Graphite Anodes – In the Anode Material, there is Lithium, which will give us the free electrons, and Graphite. Graphite is the material on pencils, it is carbon connected on layers. The Lithium stays between those layers. 

Layer of Graphite and Lithium: Black Spheres – Graphite; Blue Spheres – Lithium Ion

Solid State Batteries – A solid-state battery is a battery technology that uses solid materials, instead of the liquid or gel materials found in Lithium-Ion batteries. Solid-state batteries can provide potential solutions for many problems of liquid Li-ion batteries, such as flammability, limited voltage, unstable poor cycling performance and strength.