Atom Power, a company’s that’s created one of the first solid-state digital circuit breakers for commercial and industrial applications, has raised $17.75 million in a series B round of funding.
Circuit breakers have been a core safety component in electronics form the early days of electronics, serving to protect electrical circuits from damage caused by excess current by automatically cutting power when a fault is detected. However, the core mechanical functionality of circuit breakers have barely changed in the past century, and this is what Atom Power is now addressing.
Founded in 2014, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based startup is promising to “change how we use electricity forever,” allowing users to switch energy sources (e.g. grid to solar power) seamlessly, manage consumption, and eliminate the inherent risks of mechanical circuitry, using semiconductors to control the current flow digitally. While current electromechanical switches can take a few milliseconds to activate when a current exceeds a safe level, Atom Power’s digital counterpart can work in microseconds — up to 3,000 times faster, it claims, which may prove vital for preventing so-called “arc flashes” which are like small explosions caused by short circuits.
Aside from the safety benefits proferred by digital circuit breakers, Atom Power’s technology opens up a host of possibilities to the electronics market. With no physical switches or moving parts, this makes it easier to connect devices such as smartphones and tablets to control and manage power remotely. Indeed, while the circuit breaker can run on its own without connectivity, one of its core selling points is that it can be tinkered with manually from anywhere, which may be a major selling point in a world that is currently embracing remote-working due to social distancing measures enforced by the COVID-19 crisis.
Atom Power’s technology constitutes three core products, including the solid-state circuit breaker Atom Switch itself. The switch comes with a number of software-enabled features that allow it to act as a motor controller, including remote control and ON/OFF scheduling. In the future, Atom Power said that it will apply its technology to the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure market too. Then there is the Atom Panel, which houses all the circuit breakers and networks everything together.
Atom OS is the web-based application through which users control and change the makeup of their electrical infrastructure, activate / deactivate circuit breakers, rename panels, and more.
Prior to now, Atom Power had raised around $7 million, and with another $17.75 million in the bank, it said that it’s now well financed to “scale its digital power management platform,” with a particular focus on its new offering for EV charging.
The company has nabbed some notable investors, including Valor Equity Partners, which has previously invested in the likes of Tesla and SpaceX, while existing investor ABB Technology Ventures, the VC arm of ABB, also joined the round. ABB is in fact one of the world’s biggest circuit breaker makers, and is already developing a solid-state version of its own. Private equity investor Atreides Management also participated in the round.