Jul 21, 2020 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) — Space as an investment is sexy right now, capturing the attention of not just billionaires, but everyone. Guys like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos, and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya and co-founder Sir Richard Branson have the type of resources to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into space companies, but that doesn’t mean they had to. Face it, they have countless investment opportunities at their fingertips. The common theme amongst these visionaries is that space is a great investment that will return huge rewards.
Presuming no connections to any of the aforementioned men, the average person isn’t going to be able to invest in private firms like Bezos’ Blue Origin or Musk’s SpaceX, leaving Virgin Galactic as one of the few public companies that gets much appreciation as a space play. When SPCE came public in October 2019, its wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Shares got nearly halved down to a low of $6.90 before investors started piling on, rocketing the stock all the way up to $42.49 on February 20th.
A lot More Than Just SPCE
Musk, et al have done a great service to investors by stirring up a lot of interest in public companies in the space field. SPCE is the one that gets the headlines, but there are many other space-related stocks available. For starters, there is the Space ETF (NASDAQ: UFO) that includes Maxar (NASDAQ: MAXR) and Iridium Communications (NASDAQ: IRDM) amongst others. Although its hit some turbulence, Boeing (NYSE: BA) is working on space taxis with SpaceX. Leidos (NYSE: LDOS) works closely with NASA, as does Ball Aerospace, a division of Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL).
Boeing, Leidos, Ball and NASA have a common thread that that most investors don’t even know about yet: KULR Technology (OTCQB: KULR). Pronounced “cooler,” the name is appropriate because the small San Diego-based company manufactures thermal management systems made out of carbon fiber for devices used in space. KULR’s products have been sent to Mercury, the International Space Station and are getting loaded up for their maiden voyage to Mars as part of the Perseverance Rover that will spend nearly two years scouring the red planet for signs of previous life.
Early Opportunity: KULR Technology Comes Down to Earth
KULR’s technologies – which include PCM (phase changing material) heat sinks, hydrothermal runaway shields for Lithium-ion battery packs, URSA Fiber Thermal Interface (FTI) products and more – is now starting to become commercialized on Earth in a number of industries.
“We’re very proud of our continued work to protect devices in space, but our strategy for the long-term success of our company is hinged on commercializing the technology,” said KULR CEO and co-founder Michael Mo in a phone conversation with Baystreet.ca. “Remember, our products operate perfectly under some of the most extreme conditions known to man, literally. We were confident that with a few modifications for any number of applications here on Earth that companies would be interested.”
“Now that we have initiated commercialization efforts, the reception indeed has been strong for uses where heat is a constant burden on performance or there is a threat of a fire or explosion with Li-ion batteries,” he added.
There Can’t Be That Many Li-ion Fires…Can There?
You may wonder how often there is an explosion or some other type of incident involving transportation of Li-ion batteries? At airports and on airplanes alone, an incident occurs once every 8 days, according to the FAA. Two years ago, faulty Li-ion batteries were to blame for a UPS truck going up in flames and a waste truck catching on fire.
Only a few weeks ago, BatteryFires.com reported that energy storage system fires caused by Li-ion batteries are “occurring with troubling frequency.” Just in Korea, more than 20 such fires happened in the last 12 months. Here, a unicycle burst into flames. The list of happenings goes on and on the world over..
One of the problems is the way that cells are all connected, albeit a hoverboard, EV or any other type of energy storage system. This video provides a little color on exactly what happens that leads to an explosion with overcharging. The same principles hold true for one faulty cell setting its neighboring cells ablaze.
KULR technology effectively encapsulates each cell so that in the event one overheats or catches fire in any fashion, it is contained while the other cells stay cool. This is critical anywhere, particularly in space where there won’t be a fireman handy to extinguish a fire.
NASA and Volta Chose KULR…Who’s Next?
Markets and Markets forecasts the Li-ion battery industry to top $100 billion by 2024. As the world becomes more dependent on these batteries, the frequency of incidents will only increase unless next-generation technology is implemented now.
Again, NASA trusted KULR’s PPR (passive propagation resistant) technology to ship laptops to the International Space Station.
Dr. Eric Darcy, Battery Systems Lead at NASA, had some pretty glowing words for KULR, calling their heat sink the “lightest weight option NASA has evaluated” and further saying, “To date, NASA has not found a design solution with as much promise for preventing Li-ion battery TRP (thermal runaway propagation) with as positive temperature margins on the adjacent cells while also being very lightweight.”
Now Volta Energy Products, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Viridi Parente, Inc. that manufactures and designs cutting edge passive propagation resistant (PPR) technology will implement KULR’s technology into stationary energy storage modules from the grid intended for both immediate backup in case of power outages and supplemental energy during peak demand.
Michael Mo, CEO of KULR commented that “Volta is a leader in providing high-energy capacity energy storage solutions to industrial and mobility markets. KULR is excited to work with Volta to provide the safest regulatory-compliant battery solution in the market. Technologies that promote battery safety are of great importance for utility and industrial energy storage industries and is a primary focus for KULR.”
In addition to aerospace and defense, KULR products can be integrated into 5G and cloud computing, medical devices, energy storage, transportation (e-mobile as it’s called), logistics and more. Essentially anywhere heat is generated from rechargeable batteries, the passive technology is a solution as a stand-alone or adjunct to other technology (e.g. a fan).
Mo, in November, spent some time with CNN’s Julia Chatterley discussing the KULR carbon fiber material at the core of its thermal runaway shield, mentioning their work with some of the largest car makers in the world on next-generation EVs. No details were provided on which company(ies) where part of any discussions.
Given that EVs use hundreds of cells in the Li-ion battery systems, it would seem that KULR technology would be a nature fit due to its lightweight nature and space-age anti-fire capabilities.
The company has also mentioned that it is working with a Tier-1 tool manufacturer on utilizing KULR technology with the brushless motors.
What will be next for KULR? The company is positioned at the intersection of many emerging markets while also being able to service legacy products that need a serious thermal management system upgrade. Who knows, maybe Musk or Bezos checks in to investigate the technology that NASA chose. For those looking for exposure to the space market with diversified products offerings on this planet too, KULR is certainly worth a close examination.
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