Two Georgia Tech seniors want to help you prolong the life of your smart phone battery while reducing damage to the environment.
An entrepreneurship project in their Electrochemistry elective in spring 2022 brought together chemical and biomolecular engineering major Spencer Hayes and materials science major Samantha Mitra to work on battery technology.
“After much research and buckets of coffee we came up with TRTSE,” Mitra said.
TRTSE (short for Tortoise) is a power adaptor that optimizes phone charging overnight, so that your phone lasts much longer throughout the day, even years after buying it.
Hayes and Mitra continued developing their business concept past the conclusion of the class, winning acceptance into the summer 2022 CREATE-X program, which aims to empower students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to launch successful startups and pursue future entrepreneurial opportunities during their careers.
Now they have officially launched their company and entered the prototyping phase for their technology, with $30,000 in funding ($25,000 from the Klaus Fusion Fund and $5,000 from CREATE-X).
“Our vision is to expand into all rechargeable battery devices, so that that you have to throw away less batteries and the world has to mine less lithium,” Hayes said. “We’re initially focusing on phones, but next we’d like to break into laptops, because people often like to hold onto those as long as they can."
For phones, the TRTSE technology involves an app associated with the charger that employs machine learning to track trends of your phone usage to determine the best pacing for your phone charging overnight. So, when your alarm awakens you in the morning, your phone has just reached the optimal charge point instead of exceeding it, which could damage components over time.
“Phones are best at 20 to 80 percent of charge,” Mitra explained. “If you let the phone drain to zero, it puts a lot of strain on the battery. Phone makers and others push fast charging as the most convenient way to charge your phone. Yet, that is worse for your battery in the long run. It’s like your favorite pair of shoes. If you run fast in them all the time, the faster they wear out.”
During the CREATE-X summer program, Hayes and Mitra attended weekly sessions to learn about business and legal matters essential to starting a company. A variety of business founders and venture capitalists also provided regular coaching.
In the spring 2022 Electrochemistry class where Hayes and Mitra were teamed, Assistant Professor Nian Liu had introduced the entrepreneurship project for the first time. Liu said that as a Jim Cook Faculty Fellow, one of five at Georgia Tech, he has been charged with cultivating entrepreneurship among the student body.
“The student feedback overall was very good,” Liu said. “They were initially not used to this kind of project.”
During his undergraduate studies, Hayes has worked three semesters with Albemarle Corporation through Georgia Tech’s Co-op program. After graduation, he will join Albemarle as a technology and tesearch engineer
Mitra, a member of Professor Liu’s Lab who won a President’s Undergraduate Research Award in 2021, plans to pursue a PhD focusing on battery technology to help push TRTSE further.
Of the two entrepreneurs, Liu said, “I think they are doing very cool things that set an example for Georgia Tech students to use their knowledge and passion to create impact in the real world.”