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James Stafford

James Stafford

James Stafford is the Editor of Oilprice.com

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Nanotechnology: When Smaller is Bigger and Less is More

It’s time to dig below the surface for good energy investments—way below the surface. The future of energy will be shaped in large part by new technology, the heart of which is very, very small. This is the Nano-heart, and Nano-technology companies with their eye on the energy industry are shaping up to become an investor’s paradise.    

From improving solar cell efficiency to making the lighting solutions of the coming century, Nano-technology will be behind it all.

What IS Nano Technology?

Nanotechnology is any technology that contains components smaller than 100 nanometers, which is about the width of a single virus particle. Scientists have been developing energy applications for nanotechnology for about 30 years.

Likewise, in relation to the energy industry, nanofabrication is the process of technological design on the “Nanoscale”, and it is this that will revolutionize the energy industry in the long term. This technology allows us to invent new and improved ways to capture energy as well as to store it and transfer it.

While nanotechnology is already playing a key role in the development of new consumer products from efficient lighting to more efficient heating and better batteries, its potential is far greater. Utility companies will benefit the soonest from nanotechnology, where developments will eventually mean greater electrical storage capacity and less pollution. 

Getting in on the Consumer Level

While the longer-term investments here will be game-changing developments geared toward the electricity utility giants, and in terms of improving the efficiency of solar cells, right now Nano applications are already being commercialized on the consumer level.

Here are some companies and products that have caught our eye recently:

The Nanolight

Nanolight

The new Nanolight is already being billed as the most energy-efficient light bulb in the world, and it’s a crowd-funding star right out of the gates. Its power is comparable to a 100-watt incandescent bulb, but it uses only one-eighth of the power. It was developed by three recent graduates of the University of Toronto and has raised over $133,000 just by using the Kickstarter crowd-funding site since 7 January 2013. They already have 3,000 pre-orders. Rumor is they had only hoped to raise $20,000 at best - but  the success surprised them all. The next step is to set up a manufacturing line. Essentially, what they have done is to redesign the LED light bulb from scratch to get an efficiency that rivals any other lighting. The product is not only the most energy efficient, it’s also consumer friendly in other ways: It is very light weight, turns on instantly and shines in all directions (unlike traditional LED lighting). The next variation on this invention will be a dimmable Nanolight.

Top Nano Investment Stocks

Bridgelux

Bridgelux’s Nano lighting technology will dramatically reduce the cost and increase the efficiency and functionality of LED lighting for general consumers. The company was off to a roaring start in early 2012. By March last year, its own, Bill Watkins, had collected $160 million in investor money. As of 2012, the company was generating around $90 million in revenue with its LED lighting components, bulbs and arrays both for residential and industrial consumers.

Longer-Lasting Batteries

A company called mPhase Technologies is working with Rutgers University and Bell Laboratories to use Nano-materials to improve battery life. According to mPhase, its Nano-technology provides a unique mechanism to combine the chemicals in a battery to control the reaction and enhance efficiency and shelf-life considerably. These batteries are also cheap to manufacture, it says. It’s now looking for investors to get its product to market.

Thermal Full Speed Ahead

Low-cost heating, ventilation and air conditioning will be made possible by Nano-technology, which allows developers to change the molecular structure of these thermal applications to enhance temperature control.

In mid-January 2013, Hong Kong-registered Green Valley International Investment Management Company Ltd. (GVI) made a $7 million strategic investment in the Florida-based Dais Analytic Corporation (OTC.BB: DLYT)—a key US Nano-tech outfit focused energy efficiency developments. GVI and Dais will deploy Nano-technology solutions geared toward clean water and energy efficient HVAC products.

The Candy in Commercialization

Nano-technology was the hot story about 10 years ago, but investment sort of peaked in 2006-2007 and then a few years later, everyone started asking what happened to Nano.

Those were some big risks for investors, but now Nano is back because its applications are being successfully commercialized and we see a significant acceleration of this for 2013. Startups are still the driving force behind Nano-technology, but investors—and larger corporations--are now taking much more serious notice. This is what will secure Nano-technology’s place in the market. 

TINY Gets Nano

Here’s who we have our eye on in terms of Nano investment portfolios: Harris and Harris Group (TINY).

Harris and Harris Group is a solid company to look out for this year. It has significantly picked up speed in commercializing nanotech innovation and it’s on solid footing: for starters, we’re expecting some positive turns in liquidity and some pretty nice venture returns. The company looks set to have some key investment funds thanks to the acquisition of third-party capital. Nanotechnology is the driver here, and Harris and Harris Group has an impressive investment portfolio that includes: Adesto, D-Wave Systems, Nantero, Bridgelux and Metabolon Xradia. For now, the company is not trading well, but we think this year will be decisive largely due to successes with companies such as Adesto, which is commercializing nanotechnology for commodity data storage.

Harris and Harris Group is one of the top 10 venture capital stocks with a nano focus right now. It’s got a market cap of about $120.6 million, with shares at around $3.90, and while its stocks have taken a few hits over the last few months, the coming months should see a very positive turnaround. 

The bottom line is that Nano-technology has returned from the unattractive depths of the development black hole and is ready to take on the market with innovations that will be game-changing for the energy industry.




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