Portfolio Companies

AeroValve LLC

AeroValve LLC is commercializing a promising energy efficient pneumatic solenoid valve technology as a plug-and-play replacement for standard directional control valves.  Pneumatic valves use compressed air as the energy source for mechanical motion and manufacturers recognize the inefficiencies of current systems. AeroValve’s technology reduces compressed air consumption by 20% delivering significant energy savings to manufacturers.   The worldwide solenoid valve market is a multibillion dollar opportunity including $600M in the United States.  The market continues to grow at a 3-5% rate especially in countries where manufacturing growth is strong.

The Company is currently focused on optimizing a design to minimize manufacturing cost and maximize energy savings.  Upon completion of prototype development the technology will be pilot tested in manufacturing settings.  In conjunction with design and testing, the commercialization team is concurrently developing a strategy for the business and IP activities over the next 18 months.

The technology was invented by Dr. Michael Goldfarb, the H. Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University and licensed from the institution in 2011.  AeroValve has assembled a strong team with Vicki Gonzalez as CEO, Dr. Michael Goldfarb as CTO,  Ellen Mell, Vice President Technology and Business Development and Duke Leahey responsible for IP and licensing.  Hans Zobel (previously CEO Festo Americas) is engaged in an Advisory Board role.

Current investors include Nidus Partners and PJM Advisors.  AeroValve was awarded a NSF SBIR Phase I grant in July 2012 and Phase 2 grant in July 2013.  For more information – please contact Vicki Gonzalez at vicki@niduspartners.com and visit the website at www.aerovalve.com

Electrochaea, LLC

Electrochaea is developing a novel technology to convert stranded electric power into methane, the principal component of natural gas.  Electrochaea’s technology addresses the absence of cost effective power storage at grid- scale providing an opportunity to capture missed revenue opportunities and make more efficient use of capital invested in power generation.  By converting low cost and renewable electrical energy into chemical energy – methane, Electrochaea will provide a new tool for better utilizing current and future power generation and transmission assets. Electrochaea LLC was founded in September 2010 with technology from Dr. Laurens Mets at the University of Chicago. Mich B. Hein, Ph.D. of Nidus Investment Partners is CEO/President. The company has had substantial interest in it’s technology from a number of European entities and has formed a subsidiary in Denmark.    For more information, please contact Mich Hein  at mich@niduspartners.com.  Please visit the website at www.electrochaea.com

Glucan Biorenewables, LLC

GlucanBio logo (2)Glucan Biorenewables LLC is an innovative start-up with a proprietary catalytic process for the production of furan derivatives from C5 and C6 sugars.  The technology enables higher efficiency at anticipated lower capital and operating costs than competitive processes.   Short-term goals for the Company include plans to deliver a reliable source of furfural at competitive prices.  This platform will be used to launch other higher value products including 5-hydroxyl-methyl furfural (HMF) and its downstream derivatives.  The platform can take advantage of a variety of biomass feedstock including corn cob, corn stover, bagasse, and oat hulls to deliver biorenewable chemicals.

GlucanBio LLC was founded in April 2012 with technology from the laboratory of Dr. James Dumesic of University of Wisconsin-Madison and intellectual capital from the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) at Iowa State University.  Victoria Gonzalez of Nidus Partners is CEO.  In addition, the Company has built a strong start-up management team including Jim Dumesic Ph.D., Brent Shanks Ph.D. and Peter Keeling Ph.D.    The Company has secured several federal and state grants and is currently funded by Nidus Partners.  For more information, please visit the website at www.glucanbio.com or contact Victoria Gonzalez at vicki@niduspartners.com.

Terra Biologics, LLC

The task of restoring soils disturbed by wildfire and oil and gas exploration is a challenging proposition. The major limiting factors are water, nitrogen availability and soil erosion. Current practices include the application of tackifiers, chemical fertilizers, seeds, and mulch. If inadequate precipitation or poor nutrient status prevents the establishment of vascular plants, these soil amendments are often reapplied, creating additional expense and extending the time required for restoration.

Terra Biologics is commercializing a technology designed to restore soil fertility, retain water and reduce erosion without relying on the presence of vascular plants. The Terra Biologics innovation exploits photosynthetic microorganisms, called cyanobacteria or “blue-green algae,” which convert solar energy and soil nutrients to store chemical energy and fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Throughout the world, cyanobacteria, lichens, bacteria, and fungi, establish self-sufficient microbial communities called “Biological Soil Crusts” (BSC). In the American southwest, BSC are responsible for 99% of the nitrogen input, represent up to 70% of the living ground cover, improve the nutritional value of forage plants, improve water retention, and control erosion. However, following a disturbance, the BSC are slow to recover with recovery estimates ranging from a few to several hundred years. Terra Biologics’ approach for restoring soil fertility involves isolating cyanobacteria that are native to the disturbed area, mass-producing these microorganisms and applying the mixed culture to the disturbed soil. This process establishes a self-perpetuating, living, green fertilizer that becomes active when hydrated by natural rainfall. Once established, the restored BSC creates a substrate suitable to promote the survival of native vascular plants.

Terra Biologics has an exclusive license to patent application 12/942,963 for Arid Land Soil Crust Restoration.  The company expects to expand the existing intellectual property assets through proprietary application and production methods.  For additional information, please contact ted.briscoe@niduspartners.com

Thermaquatica, LLC

Thermaquatica, LLC was created to commercialize Oxidative Hydrothermal Dissolution (OHD). OHD is a novel technology for the conversion of coal, biomass and other organic solids, into low molecular weight products useful for production of synthetic polymers and for other applications including fuel production.  The technology was developed at and patented by Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) with support from the Illinois Clean Coal Institute.  OHD is an entirely novel approach to processing solid organic materials with the potential to enable the use of coal and biomass as a replacement for petroleum-derived raw chemical feed stocks and liquid fuels.  It also can be applied to very crude hydrocarbon mixtures such as those associated with tar sands and oil shale.

OHD works by reaction of organic solids with small amounts of oxygen in high-temperature, high-pressure, water.  The process breaks up the underlying macromolecular structure, resulting in the generation of low molecular weight, water-soluble products. Complete conversion of coal and biomass is readily achievable with 70-90% recovery of the original carbon as water soluble products. As a raw material for the manufacture of commodity chemical feedstocks, coal is less than 10% the cost of petroleum and is more than 10 times as abundant. Biomass wastes derived from agriculture and forest products are also abundant and inexpensive. This wide raw material price differential creates a significant strategic opportunity for the company, opening new markets for domestic coal resources and agricultural wastes and reducing dependence on imported petroleum while decoupling chemical feedstock price and availability from volatile petroleum markets. Dr. Ken B. Anderson, professor of Geology at SIUC, is founder and CSO of Thermaquatica. He developed the OHD concept, and has served as principal investigator on R&D grants funded by the State of Illinois to explore the concept and develop the fundamental technology. Dr. John P. McAlister, formerly an Entrepreneur in Residence at Nidus and serial entrepreneur, is CEO of Thermaquatica.  For more information, please visit the website at www.thermataquatica.com

X-tend Energy, LLC

X-tend Energy’s will enable lithium-ion battery manufacturing and the electric vehicle markets by providing high performance cathode materials at reduced cost. By combining a groundbreaking process with innovative electrochemical materials, X-tend Energy addresses critical performance, cost, and process scaling challenges limiting electric vehicle adoption. X-tend Energy’s innovation is optimized for the lithium rich manganese-based cathode chemistry developed at Argonne National Laboratory. In addition to building on the strong cell performance of the layered-layered chemistry, X-tend’s process delivers the benefits of lower cost, ease of scale-up, and more uniform material consistency. The company’s proprietary process produces cathode materials with higher functional performance at significantly lower costs than existing materials. X-tend Energy was formed in April 2011 based on technology developed by Dr. Richard Axelbaum at Washington University in St. Louis. Ted Briscoe, Managing Partner of Nidus Partners serves at the company CEO. Current investors include Nidus Partners, BioGenerator, Missouri Technology Corporation Idea Fund, and the St. Louis County Helix Fund.  For further information, please contact Ted Briscoe at ted@niduspartners.com and visit the site at www.x-tendenergy.com

Six Convert LLC

This company has merged with Electrochaea LLC

Six Convert is commercializing a novel technology to enable wastewater-to-energy projects.  The conventional approach to recovering energy from wastewater includes the use of anaerobic digesters, which use microbes to ferment organic wastes and reduce the wastewater’s biological oxygen demand. Biogas, composed of methane (~60%) and carbon dioxide (~30%), is produced as a fermentation by-product from the digestion process.  Raw biogas, however, is unsuitable for sale into natural gas pipelines because the carbon dioxide content is too high.  Removing the carbon dioxide with conventional technologies is energy intensive and releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  Therefore, rather than selling the biogas as natural gas, the biogas is often burned at the site of generation to produce electricity and heat.  The energetic efficiency of using biogas to produce electricity is ~30% and increases to ~70% if the heat can be economically used.  Thus, a significant portion of the biogas energy (30 to 70%) is lost as heat due to process inefficiencies. The Six Convert solution is to convert the carbon dioxide in the biogas into methane; the principle component of natural gas.  By producing pipeline-ready natural gas directly from wastewater, more of the biogas energy (~98%) can be recovered to increase revenues.  In addition, the Six Convert process harvests electrical energy from the wastewater to reduce power costs.  By applying Six Convert treatment, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, the biogas methane yield increases, and wastewater treatment is enhanced. Six Convert, LLC was founded by Drs. Jeff Fornero and Lars Angenent in May, 2010.