Urbix Resources Receives DOE Award to Advance UA-Technology for Nuclear Energy Materials

Monday, May 14, 2018
The Urbix team, From left: Nicolas Cuevas, Adam Small, Dr. Palash Gangopadhyay. Photo credit: Urbix Resources

The Urbix team, From left: Nicolas Cuevas, Adam Small, Dr. Palash Gangopadhyay. Photo credit: Urbix Resources

Tucson, Ariz. – Urbix Resources, co-founded by University of Arizona alumni Adam Small and Nicolas Cuevas, was recently named as one of five companies selected to receive a Department of Energy technology development voucher for preliminary work oriented towards the advancement of ultra-high purity isotropic graphite.

This research originally began in 2015 through a sponsored project whereby Urbix commissioned the UA to develop processes for graphite purification and graphene exfoliation.

As a result of working with Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from research, Urbix licensed a portfolio of University technologies that includes an environmentally friendly low-temperature graphite purification technique, as well as a new electrode architecture, an electrolyte, and a graphene exfoliation reactor.

“Urbix has been a great partner for the UA, so we’re excited to see them achieve this milestone,” said TLA Assistant Vice President Douglas Hockstad. “It’s another demonstration of how strategically pairing these early-stage technologies with the right people can lead to greater impact.”

The inventions were developed by Dr. Palash Gangopadhyay in his role as adjunct research professor at the UA College of Optical Sciences (OSC). He is now the full-time CTO at Urbix, overseeing the commercialization of the technologies.

TLA also contributed to moving the technologies toward readiness by providing funding via its Asset Development program. The team used the funds to verify the performance of the new electrode technology to help entrepreneurs and investors understand its commercial potential.

“The purpose of this voucher grant is to begin preliminary vetting and characterization of new refined carbon feedstocks for isotropic graphite,” says Small, who is the CMO of Urbix. “The voucher will provide us with much needed technical and capital assistance to our first step in creating breakthroughs in nuclear grade isotropic graphite.”

In decreasing feedstock cost, production time and environmental impact, Urbix expects to achieve competitive nuclear graphite grades at a viable cost. By lowering the costs of these crucial consumables, nuclear power projects can propose stronger project economics, and therefore increase the likelihood of new project implementation throughout the United States.

Small graduated from the UA Eller College of Management in 2012, after which he became an entrepreneur and co-founded a number of companies, most recently co-founding Urbix in 2014 alongside UA Engineering Management alumni Nicolas Cuevas, Sergio Aguirre, Javier Ayala and Luis Ramos, and raising $3.5 million to-date. While at the UA, Small won a national championship in swimming, and now at 28, he has been named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in the energy sector for 2018.

- written by Paul Tumarkin
Paul Tumarkin
Sr. Manager, Marketing & Communications