The global lithium market size was valued at USD 4.23 billion in 2019/2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.9% from 2021 to 2027. The overall increasing demand for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in various applications, especially the automotive industry, is expected to augment market growth over the forecast period.
With this in mind, as well as other renewable energy technologies, EnergyX and its founder Teague Egan have been travelling the world on behalf of America to make sure that change and success happens; EnergyX is focused on commercializing the LiTAS™ technology for direct lithium extraction and the company’s SoLiS™ solid state battery electrolytes and inventing and innovating new ways for our planet to create and live off renewable energy sources/products.
Teague spoke one-on-one with us about the trends he sees and visions he has for the future.
- Why have you been able to be so successful in the marketplace / industry you are currently in?
First, lithium extraction is an extremely new sector for the simple reason that our society has not needed much lithium, there has been low global lithium demand…until now. Now, lithium is quickly turning into one of the most highly sought after battery materials, and it’s my view that lithium will be one of the most valuable natural resources, globally, over the next 10-40 years.
While current lithium production practices aren’t the most efficient or sustainable, they are profitable, which means finding new technology isn’t a priority. Further, most established mining giants are “old line” thinkers; they’ve been in the business for 100 year, and operate following specific guidelines that haven’t changed in decades. Natural resource mining in general is an old line business where change, disruption, and innovation are taboo.
On the other hand, you have a new company like EnergyX. Being new to the sector, we bring a different point of view, a First Principles approach, where we aim to modernize production methods. We ask the basic question of “why” is it done this way, and can the method be improved or simplified. We explore new possibilities, and challenge the status quo. When you boil systems and processes down to basic physics and chemistry, you can discover what can be done to make lithium extraction more efficient and sustainable – and that is exactly what we have done.
The technology and solutions we are bringing to the market are the most disruptive and innovative Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies this sector has seen in over forty years. Despite EnergyX being a relative newcomer in the lithium extraction world we are providing incumbents with our technology, who have been relying on the same outdated methods for countless decades. We are revolutionizing this sector through our novel approach and we will continue to do so.
- What trends in your space – energy – do you see happening in the near future?
We are going to see many breakthroughs that will make energy and battery storage technology orders of magnitude more efficient in the near future. In turn, this will dramatically speed up the global transition towards a low-carbon future. Billions of dollars are now being poured into this research as an area of government and private sector focus. The fact that the entire world is working towards implementing more sustainable solutions and looking for opportunities to innovate in the field of energy makes the energy sector primed for high growth and disruption.
Personally, I think scalable lithium-ion battery technology will continue its impressive trajectory and will rapidly begin to feature in global electrical grids. The Hornsdale power reserve in Australia has shown that this technology works and it can be a real game-changer.
- What has been your biggest hurdle since starting your company?
Bringing a vision to life takes incredible sacrifice. When I founded EnergyX, I put everything on the line, invested over $1 million of my own money, and worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week, for over 2 year, by myself in Puerto Rico, putting all the necessary pieces together to turn an idea into reality. I sacrificed friends, social life, family gatherings, and everything in between to start this company. The grind is realllllll.
On a more granular level, within physical sciences there is a tremendous amount of new technology that ends up never making it out of incubators or university research labs. This is because scaling technology from proof of concept to commercialization is extremely hard, takes substantial capital, and many years.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to put the puzzle pieces together and find a way to not only make the technology work at scale, but also find suitable applications and ultimately customers. That’s what we’ve been working on at EnergyX for the past three years, trying to nurture this nanotechnology breakthrough that was discovered in a laboratory and figuring out how to bring that into the real world, scale it up, market it, and make it feasible from a financial and economic standpoint.
That transition is a lot more difficult than I think a lot of people, or even I initially realized. It takes tireless work to bring technology to life. Building a great team of scientists and researchers to progress the technology is key, raising capital to fund the continued operations is critical, and finding a balance is a very challenging decision as well. Everything costs money, and deciding where to allocate dollars is tough.
- What advice would you give others in the business world right now?
Manage your mindset and look for consistency, being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs. Every single day you’re probably going to get some good and some bad news in some form or another, you’ll have wins and losses every day, every week, every month – you just need to keep your mind on the bigger picture and focus on overall improvement. You can be working on developing a contract for six months and not get it – disappointing? Yes. But you can learn from that and improve how you approach the next one.
- How important is a good “team”?
Very important! You need to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and complement each other’s weaknesses. That means making sure you build a diverse team with different skills and outlooks, and you can’t be scared to look far and wide for them. We have assembled a team at EnergyX from all across the world. We have partners working remotely in Norway, Australia, Netherlands, and across the US. At our headquarters in Austin TX, we have team members of all different cultures and backgrounds from China, India, Australia, and more.
Also we like to balance experience. Oftentimes very experienced engineers who have 30+ years of knowledge might not be able to think outside the box anymore; they are ingrained in the “way things are always done,” however they do know pitfalls of certain approaches. Adversely, young hungry engineers can think outside the box, but don’t have the experience to know about certain pitfalls. Creating a well-rounded and well-balanced team brings the best out of the company and each other.
- Besides your own industry, what other industries would you invest into if you could / already do?
I’m interested in space exploration and life sciences such as longevity and genome editing. Don’t want to get too much into that though as EnergyX is pretty much my sole focus right now.
- Why is EnergyX so important right now for people to know about and invest into?
EnergyX is disrupting a sector (batteries and battery materials) that is literally powering the future of humanity. It doesn’t get any more important than that. With DLE technology, we are challenging the status quo – making lithium mining a lot more efficient and sustainable at a time when it is about to become one of the most in-demand commodities in the world. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of what energy storage means to the inner-workings of society. Everything we use on a daily basis will pretty much have batteries.