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Stanford students again well represented on Forbes '30 Under 30 in Energy' list

Four Stanford University students and recent alumni made Forbes magazine’s annual 30 Under 30 in Energy list. Three of the honorees have conducted research for Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), and the fourth co-founded a start-up with two GCEP alumnae.

“Energy” is one of 20 categories—from music to finance—for which the magazine applauds auspicious achievements. Selections for the energy sector tend to focus on founders of renewable and other cleantech startups. The recognition can facilitate entrepreneurs’ ability to grow their businesses. This year, Forbes selected Stanford’s Colin Bailie, who completed his PhD in materials science and engineering last month; Nicholas Flanders, co-founder of Opus 12; and Tim Burke and Andrew Scheuermann, co-founders of WellDone Technology.

Credit: Rongrong Cheacharoen
Colin Bailie
Colin Bailie conducted research on pervoskite solar cells for GCEP and is launching a spinoff company.

“Bailie is a pioneer in designing and prototyping solar cells using material for a semiconductor called metal-halide perovskite,” said Forbes. “His research has shown that cells using this material can produce up to 50 percent more electricity.”

Bailie has worked on perovskite solar cells for several years with Stanford Professor Michael McGehee. They recently launched a spinoff company, Iris Photovoltaics, with the support of the Innovation Transfer Program at Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. Since Forbes published its 2016 list on January 4, companies and investors have begun contacting Bailie about the possibility of using the technology in their solar devices.

“The photovoltaic industry is a difficult industry to start a company and find funding in, so any increase in visibility is invaluable,” said Bailie, whose doctoral research was funded by GCEP and the U.S. Department of Energy through the Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium.

Flanders, who expects to complete dual master’s degrees in business and engineering this year, co-founded Opus 12 with GCEP alumnae Etosha Cave (PhD ’14, mechanical engineering) and Kendra Kuhl (PhD ’13, chemistry). Their startup seeks to convert captured carbon dioxide emissions into fuels and chemicals using new catalysts and electricity from renewable sources. They expect their products to compete against petroleum-based products on performance and cost.

Nicholas Flanders
Stanford's Nicolas Flanders co-founded Opus 12 with two GCEP alumnae.

“The award was a team win. I just happen to be the honorary sub-30-year-old member of our three-person founding team,” said Flanders.

Like Iris Photovoltaics, Opus 12 received initial support from the TomKat Center Innovation Transfer Program and continues to receive guidance from Stanford Professor Tom Jaramillo. The company is now supported by Berkeley Laboratory’s Cyclotron Road program, which helps young entrepreneurs develop their technologies to commercial viability.

Forbes also recognized Stanford alumnus Tim Burke (PhD ’15, materials science) and graduate student Andrew Scheuermann, who expects to complete his PhD in materials science this year. Burke collaborated with Michael McGehee on GCEP-sponsored research, and Scheuermann is completing another GCEP project with Stanford Professor Paul McIntyre.

Burke, Scheuermann and Austin McGee, a University of California-Berkeley alumnus, recently launched WellDone Technology, a startup that makes low-cost, low-power monitoring hardware and proprietary software to manage water, energy and other remote infrastructure systems.

“The hardware is open-source, and we sell it at cost," said Scheuermann, [on right in the picture below]. "We want everyone to build hardware this way, even beyond our company, because it can be designed in one-fifth of the time and at one-tenth of the cost, allowing hardware to be iterated like software for the first time.”

Tim Burke, Andrew Scheuermann
GCEP's Tim Burke and Andrew Scheuermann are honored in Forbes magazine's 30 Under 30 in Energy list.

Burke developed WellDone’s technologies in parallel with his doctoral research at Stanford, where he modeled electron behavior for new photovoltaic materials. He said that similar modeling techniques and algorithms can be used to increase the robustness of connected devices, bypassing the need for time-consuming tests to find subtle technical bugs.

Burke said that WellDone makes money on its software and management services. At the same time, he and his colleagues have created a non-profit arm that manages water infrastructure for resource-constrained communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where 40 percent of wells are broken. Burke recently taught a workshop in Ghana for African entrepreneurs interested in building similar businesses based on connected devices.

January 15, 2016

Based on article by Mark Golden (updated on February 26, 2016)


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