Cerion Enterprises LLC, based in Rochester, NY, is a privately-funded science discovery and commercialization company whose expertise is the synthesis, manipulation and configuration of nanomaterials for multiple applications. The company has four subsidiaries focused on the energy, catalyst, power and biologics markets.
The company began as Cerion Energy in 2007 using technology expertise developed at Eastman Kodak by its founding group of scientists who were working on photographic film emulsions and dispersions. Cerion Enterprises was founded in 2009 as an expansion of the original enterprise. The company boasts a unique team of veteran entrepreneurs and experienced scientists and researchers dedicated to the commercialization of disruptive technology in nano and near-nano materials.
Cerion’s core competence is the scalable production of small (1 to 10 nm), monodisperse, functionalized nanoparticles at very low cost and in high yield. The ability to tightly control the size and shape of particles and to tailor them for use in specific applications is Cerion’s primary expertise. Their technology permits the modification of the chemical composition of the nanoparticles by doping them in the parts-per-million range. They also have the capability of embedding a variety of transition metals and precious metals into the nanoparticle structure in the parts-per-hundred range. Cerion has patented expertise in making, manipulating and suspending nanoparticles in aqueous and non-aqueous media. They can control surface charge and can create heterostructures of multiple materials down to the 1 nm level. These capabilities are enabling Cerion to develop material solutions for multiple high-growth markets. Such materials have potential use in catalytic converters, high-energy batteries and fuel cells as well as in processes used to produce ammonia and hydrogen.
Cerion’s first commercial development was for a fuel-borne nanoparticle combustion catalyst for diesel engines. This product simultaneously increases combustion efficiency (and, hence, MPG) and decreases unwanted and harmful exhaust emissions. Known as GO2, Cerion’s diesel fuel additive decreases fuel consumption by a minimum of 8% and emissions by 10-20%.
Following their work on diesel fuel additives, Cerion began to branch out and partner with multinational companies, academic institutions and government agencies across a variety of applications. With the assistance of NYSERDA funding, Cerion has collaborated with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) NanoPower Research Labs to develop novel Li-ion cathode materials based on lithium transition metal orthosilicates, Li2MSiO4. This work has been ongoing for the past three years under the leadership of Drs. Robert Curtis and Peter Corvan.
According to Dr. Curtis “These materials offer tremendous potential to improve battery properties and optimization of their performance is only beginning.” The orthosilicates are of great interest because of their exceptional theoretical capacity (330 mAh/g), high half-cell potential, low-cost earth abundant availability, and the absence of unstable oxides resulting in improved safety. The Cerion team has prepared these materials in sub-20 nm particle sizes and in 3-D or nanosheet morphologies, which affords an enormous surface area that is favorable for rapid charge/discharge rates. Doping them with various transition metals and extrinsically with various carbon coatings has enhanced the intrinsic conductivity of the particles.
The Cerion team, along with Professors Landry and Rogers of the NanoPower Research labs, is exploring scale-up production of these battery materials at the Eastman Business Park and with a number of commercial battery partners in New York State. The anticipated advantages of these new cathode materials include energy densities more than twice those of current materials along with potentially faster charging rates and longer cyclability.
Cerion Enterprises occupies a research facility in Rochester, an engine dyno lab, and a 12,000 square-foot manufacturing site in the Eastman Business Park. The company conducts contract research with twelve other universities along with its strong ties with RIT. The ability to substitutionally dope, lattice engineer and surface functionalize redox catalytic metal oxides and metals down to extreme size ranges and to do this at commercial scale, distinguishes Cerion from the many players in this field. With its wide range of capabilities in nano and near-nano materials, Cerion’s goal is to be the leading global developer and supplier of these materials across multiple high-growth markets.