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November 20, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Perseus Materials intends to reinvent composites manufacturing

The two Co-Founders met at Stanford University where one was a Post Doc, and the other was a doctoral candidate.

If the team behind Perseus Materials Inc. achieves its goals, it will reinvent composites manufacturing as it is currently known. To achieve those goals, Daniel Lee and John Feist have traveled across the country to accelerate their journey as part of Cohort 7 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The two met at Stanford University where Lee, who serves as the start-up’s Chief Executive Officer, was a Post Doc, and Feist, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, was a doctoral candidate. They founded Perseus Materials in 2022 around a class of recyclable plastics that Feist had developed as part of his doctoral research. Lee, who earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Cornell University, also holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Engineering from the University of Washington.

The early tagline for Perseus Materials says a lot: “Build bigger, faster, anywhere.” That’s enabled by the start-up’s ability to develop and apply its proprietary composite fabrication processes to the manufacturing of oversize load-bearing structures for buildings, bridges, wind turbines, and other applications in infrastructure and energy.

Together, they share a big goal: bring to market a new additive manufacturing (AM) method for rapid, onsite fabrication on wind turbine blades and other very large items that cannot be achieved with current AM materials and methods. And they want to do so in a way that makes the new blades or whatever is being fabricated recyclable.

Daniel Lee

“We want to make the process more automated and with higher throughput,” Lee says. “Our goal is to get to 10,000 kilograms of material an hour.”

So, how did two West Coast guys get to Knoxville?

Lee says it started with their participation in an I-Corps program where customer discovery is emphasized. Before too long, they realized that “we had found a really interesting opportunity and (also) realized we were in it full-time. It was so much fun.”

Along the way, Lee and Feist met ORNL Corporate Fellow Lonnie Love and Vlastimil Kunc, two key players in the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. It is the U.S. Department of Energy’s first research facility established to provide industry with affordable and convenient access to infrastructure, tools, and expertise to facilitate the rapid adoption of advanced additive manufacturing technologies.

“We know chemistry, they know manufacturing,” Lee said, underscoring how the relationship with the facility and its research staff can help the company advance.

The company has secured $1.5 million in non-dilutive funding, including the investment through Launch Tennessee and participation in “Innovation Crossroads.”

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