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Alumnus Peter Frischmann Advancing the Future of Electric Transportation

Kristen Cooper

Idaho State University alumnus Peter Frischmann is working to advance the future of electric mobility with his new company, Sepion.

Frischmann graduated from Idaho State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Since then, he completed a Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia, was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow in Würzburg, Germany, worked as a project scientist at Berkeley Lab and, in September 2015, created Sepion Technologies alongside his co-founder, Brett Helms.

Sepion’s primary focus is developing safe, energy-dense batteries capable of powering vehicles beyond 400 miles on a single charge. They accomplish this by replacing the expensive and resistive incumbent ceramic membranes developed for lithium-metal batteries with a specially-developed composite polymer-inorganic membrane with small pores.

These membranes are also much cheaper to process than ceramics, giving them the potential to provide energy efficient, high-power batteries at a competitive price.

“While participating in the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program from the National Science Foundation, it was kind of like a light switching on for me,” he said. “Academic labs are great for discovery, but they often don’t have the finances to push past that. That was a big part of what motivated us to create Sepion.”

Frischmann said that Sepion wrapped up its first federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in November, and it is now focusing on further expanding its customer base. With the federal government’s continued support, Sepion will be able to accelerate the development of its products and attract private equity investment. 

In addition to evolving batteries, Frischmann says he hopes the technologies developed at Sepion will help to improve the economy of the United States.

“It’s important to emphasize how much batteries and mobility impact the U.S.,” Frischmann said. “Electric vehicles are a lot cheaper to operate since electricity costs so much less than gas and the lifetime maintenance costs are reduced compared to combustion vehicles.”

“This is an issue I’m really passionate about,” he continued. “More widespread use of electric cars would create more jobs in manufacturing and energy, reduce pollution and help to stabilize the electric grid, and I really want to stress that advancing and innovating new batteries is the most crucial part of making that happen.”

Frischmann said his education at ISU proved to be helpful in preparing him for graduate school and his career.

The opportunity to conduct research and work in a lab as an undergraduate was a big part of that, and Frischmann thinks that is something ISU does well compared to other universities.

“I was presented opportunities to do research as early as my freshman year,” Frischmann said. “Professors Rene Rodriguez and Joshua Pak were incredibly supportive and patient.”

“The chemistry department at ISU is very open, and the professors are always accessible,” he continued. “You can tell they genuinely enjoy working with their students, and that really helped ignite my passion for science and graduate school.”

For more information about Sepion and the work he does there, contact Frischmann at pete@sepiontechnologies.com.

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