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Hot Batteries For Industry, Drones To Make It Rain

Hey y’all, in this week’s post we have

  • Thermal battery company announces manufacturing plant

  • Cloud seeding company is hiring chemical engineers

  • LLMs can be used to teach robot dexterous skills

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Antora is building hot batteries

Antora is decarbonizing manufacturing by building thermal batteries. They recently announced the construction of a manufacturing facility to scale up the production of their batteries in San Jose.

Industrial heating takes an enormous amount of energy and is currently primarily produced via fossil fuels (roughly 92% of process heating comes from fossil fuels).

Antora uses energy from solar and wind to heat large blocks of carbon inside steel containers. The carbon blocks can stay hot for days, eliminating the issue with the intermittent nature of solar and wind energy. Industrial users can then directly use this heat in their manufacturing processes.

A huge amount of manufacturers use some form of industrial heat

The blocks can reach temperatures of up to 1500c, hot enough to make the carbon blocks glow red-hot.

It’s an interesting relatively simple approach to solve an absolutely huge problem.

The company has raised more than $50m to date.

Cloud Seeding startup is hiring chemical engineers

Rainmaker is one of my favorite early-stage startups in the hard startup scene. Crazy ambitious goal, a mission that feels incredibly sci-fi, and a founder crazy enough to tackle the problem (the mulleted Augustus Doricko).

Augustus first told me about his wild idea in February over tacos.

Augustus is trying to end water scarcity by harnessing our control over the weather. Cloud seeding has been a thing for more than half a century, but the methods haven’t evolved much. The company plans to use advanced weather modeling software, drones, and new chemical formulations to bring cloud seeding into the modern age.

Building ways to ensure that everyone has clean and abundant water is one of the most important problems a startup can solve.

The traditional way to do cloud seeding is to strap some silver iodide to a small aircraft, fly into a cloud formation, and release the iodide. It’s very imprecise but it works at some scale. Rainmaker’s bet is that they can take an engineering / scientific approach to make the process much more effective.

There is no shortage of ambition at Rainmaker.

If you’re interested in joining an incredibly cool early stage startup, Rainmaker is currently hiring a Chemical Engineer.

Quick Links

Researchers figure out how to use LLMs to get robots to do very dexterous tasks. They use the LLMs to write custom reward functions which are used in reinforcement learning models to teach the robots new tasks.

A shutdown mall is being retrofitted as a defense manufacturing facility

LK Machinery unveils an absolutely enormous press. 16,000 tons! For comparison, Tesla’s recent Giga Press is 9000 tons.

That’s it for this week

Thanks for reading! See y’all next Friday 🫡