Idaho State Alum’s Company, Sepion Technologies, Named 1 of 10 Start-ups to Watch
January 29, 2023
A company co-founded by an Idaho State University grad is one start-up you should be keeping your eye on, according to the American Chemical Society.
Recently, the group published a list of “10 Start-ups to Watch” in its Chemical & Engineering News magazine, and among the 10 is Sepion Technologies.
Co-founded by ISU alum Pete Frischmann and Brett Helms, the company aims to help electric car manufacturers switch from the lithium-ion batteries that are currently used to Sepion’s lithium-metal batteries. “The start-up is promising automakers that its technology will cut cost per kilowatt-hour by 15% and unlock a 40% increase in electric vehicle range,” according to Chemical & Engineering News. Specifically, Sepion specializes in batteries with a “polymer separator membrane that helps overcome problems with dendrites—spiky metallic microstructures that can form on the anode”
“I'm honored and excited to see Sepion Technologies highlighted as a top 10 Start-Up to watch,” said Frischmann. “This recognition is truly an acknowledgment of the passion, creativity, and persistence of our fantastic team. The recognition is also driving even more interest in our products from potential partners and investors.”
After graduating from Waunakee High School in Waunakee, Wisconsin, Frischmann enrolled at Idaho State to study chemistry.
“I fell in love with chemistry because it explains how everything around us works,” Frischmann said. The world started to make more sense the more chemistry I learned. Idaho State was a great option for me to pursue higher education because I could be close to my family and the mountains, two things I love and bring me joy.”
Frischmann earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 2005. While on campus, he was a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society, ISU Ambassadors, as well as the Chemistry and Snow clubs. He also spent plenty of time in the laboratory of Joshua Pak, professor and chair of the chemistry department, and Rene Rodriguez, professor and former chair of the chemistry department, researching new ways to make nanoparticles for solar cells.
“Even as a young undergraduate researcher, Pete exhibited a combination of healthy curiosity and adventurous spirit, which I think is essential to being a successful scientist,” said Pak. “While at ISU, Pete worked hard but also played hard to get the most out of the college experience.”“At ISU, I was given the freedom to explore and develop my passions, like chemistry and skiing,” said Frischmann. “The opportunities I received to conduct research in Dr. Pak and Dr. Rodriguez’s labs were instrumental to my professional development because they exposed me to more rigorous challenges in a low-risk environment. ISU has shaped who I am, and many of my closest friends, including my wife, are people I met as a freshman while living in Turner Hall.”
After his time at Idaho State, Frischmann’s academic pursuits took him to the University of British Columbia, where he earned a doctorate in inorganic and supramolecular chemistry. From there, he spent nearly three years in Germany at the University of Wuerzburg after being awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. After his time in Europe, he returned to the United States and spent two years as a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“I left ISU with a toolbox to identify problems, efficiently seek information to craft hypotheses, design experiments to test hypotheses, interpret the results to create new knowledge, and then identify the next important question to ask,” Frischmann explained. “With this toolbox at my side, I’ve had the foundational knowledge needed to attack any problem I’ve faced in my career. I continue to add specialty tools and sharpen the originals, but the box will always say ‘ISU’ on the side.”
At the Berkeley Lab, Frischmann led a team of scientists who were exploring the potential for the next generation of lithium-sulfur batteries. With the guidance of Sepion’s co-founder, Brett Helms, he developed the concept of Sepion’s polymer membrane. In 2015. Frischmann and Helms formed Sepion Technologies to expand on the membrane’s potential for lithium-metal batteries.
“Anthropogenic climate change is the greatest existential threat facing humanity, and emissions from combustion engine vehicles account for roughly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions - closer to 30% in the US,” Frischmann said. “The Sepion team is united by a passion to sustainably power humankind, and we aim to do this by commercializing breakthrough battery products. My goal is that many of us are driving domestically manufactured Sepion-powered vehicles in the next five to 10 years. We have a long road ahead of us, but the result is worth the effort.”
For more information about Sepion Technologies, visit sepiontechnologies.com.
For more information on Idaho State University’s Department of Chemistry, visit isu.edu/chem.
Prospective students can schedule a campus tour at isu.edu/visit.