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September 21, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Zeno Power secures another $15 million

The latest award from NASA follows the mid-June announcement of $30 million from the U.S. Department of Defense and private investors.

Zeno Power, a start-up initiated through the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, is one of 11 American companies to receive funding from NASA to develop technologies that could support long-term exploration on the Moon and in space for the benefit of all, according to a NASA news release.

Zeno Power is leading a team that will receive $15 million to develop a space-ready radioisotope Stirling generator that will be fueled by americium-241 for use during NASA’s Artemis missions. Artemis is intended to reestablish a human presence on the moon; people were last there more than 50 years ago. For this new era of human space exploration with a goal of sustained lunar presence, missions need a long-lasting, reliable energy source to operate in permanently shadowed regions and to survive the two-week-long lunar night. Such a power source hasn’t been available commercially until now.

In addition to Zeno, the team—called Harmonia—includes Blue Origin, Intuitive MachinesNASA Glenn Research CenterNASA Marshall Space Flight CenterSunpower Inc. and the University of Dayton Research Institute.

“Project Harmonia will provide the technology to transform the moon from a location darkened by night and shadow to one enlightened by science and exploration, ultimately for the good of the nation and humankind,” said Tyler Bernstein, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zeno Power. “Zeno is excited to work with these industry leaders to bring both americium-241 and Stirling conversion technologies to the lunar surface for the first time.”

Bernstein founded the company with two Vanderbilt alums, Chief Technology Officer Jake Matthews and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Segal.

In a mid-June article, we reported that Zeno Power had received a total of $30 million from the U.S. Department of Defense and private investors to develop and build a flight-ready radioisotope-powered satellite by 2025.

Click here to read the Vanderbilt news release.

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