Resonant Ventures Bets on Wind Power Startup Accio Energy
Resonant Venture Partners in Ann Arbor, MI, said it has invested an undisclosed amount in Accio Energy, a startup developing a new way to generate electricity from wind.
The startup, which is also based in Ann Arbor, is “developing a novel…wind energy generation technology to deliver clean, sustainable energy to people around the globe,” Resonant announced via its Twitter feed. “Accio Energy will disrupt the entire wind energy supply chain cost structure with distinctive systems that are as silent, stationary, and modular as solar panels, and orders of magnitude more cost effective than wind turbines.”
Founded by Jason Townsend and Michael Godwin, two former Silicon Valley veterans who earned MBAs from the University of Michigan, Resonant previously collaborated with Palo Alto, CA-based True Ventures on a $1 million investment in Duo Security (previously known as Scio Security).
Accio is developing what it calls “aerovoltaic” wind technology, billed as a more cost-effective alternative to traditional blade systems. CEO Jennifer Baird is the co-founder of Accuri Cytometers, which recently agreed to be acquired by Becton, Dickinson, & Co.
Under the current model, electricity from wind-powered turbines reaches grids through miles of transmission lines. However, this kind of wind power faces a long period of regulatory scrutiny before the state approves a project because of possible environmental damage. Building large wind towers, turbines, and transmission lines also requires huge construction and maintenance costs. Even with millions of dollars of state subsidies, it often takes at least a decade before investors can recoup their costs and earn a profit.
Accio’s technology does not require turbines. Instead, its smaller electrokinetic devices create electricity by using wind molecules to push positively charged ions against the force of an electrostatic field, according to documents filed with the U.S. Trademark & Patent Office. The company says it can distribute the electricity directly to the grid or store it locally for energy on demand. (The only known way to “store” electricity is through a battery, which converts electricity into a chemical energy and back again.)
In theory, such wind generation devices can run continuously on speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, generating about 24 kilowatts per square meter, the patent filing said. By contrast, larger turbines can sustain damage once winds exceed 60 miles per hour.
Accio has won funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the R&D arm of the Defense Department. Under its DARPA contract, the company is developing portable wind power devices for soldiers to use in the field.