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  • Writer's pictureFound Energy

TechCrunch: How Found Energy went from ‘self-cannibalizing robots’ to cleaning up heavy industry

Found Energy doesn’t have the typical startup origin story: It began with a space robot that was supposed to eat itself. Now, the company is developing that same technology with an eye toward powering aluminum smelters and long-haul shipping.
Nearly a decade ago, Peter Godart, Found Energy’s co-founder and CEO, was a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He and some colleagues were brainstorming how to power a probe that might visit Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The team was debating the energy density of batteries that might be suitable when a stray thought landed in Godart’s head. The aluminum used to make the spacecraft held more than 10 times the energy of any cutting-edge battery. Why not use the spacecraft’s parts to power itself?
“They gave me a bunch of money to start a program that I lovingly called the ‘self-cannibalizing robot lab,’” Godart told TechCrunch. “We looked at giving robots the ability to consume their vestigial aluminum components for fuel.”
But as he continued his research, Godart had another thought. “I had a moment where I realized my time would be better spent solving Earth problems,” he said. His timing couldn’t have been better.

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