I have an MS degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, a BS degree in mechanical and materials engineering from Vanderbilt University and studied accounting and finance at the University of Michigan. After graduating, I led the acquisition, integration and scaling of more than 20 hardware and software startups.
What is your field of expertise?
I am currently the CEO and co-founder of Lyten. Prior to Lyten, I served as a private equity C-level operating executive focused on tech and industrial sector companies for Cerberus Capital and Tenex Capital Management for 10 years. After beginning my career with six years in engineering, production, and supply chain at GM, I went on to lead operations for 15 years within Silicon Valley PC peripheral, software, networking, and telecommunications companies. During this same period, I also worked closely with such tech luminaries as Steve Jobs and Regis McKenna.
Describe your journey to where you are today.
I’ve worked in the automotive industry, as well as worked with companies in the industrial and transportation industry over the years. I have seen both the incredible technological achievements on the back of fossil fuels for energy and materials, but also the negative and mounting environmental toll from greenhouse gasses. As an engineer, it has long been my aspiration to create practical and scalable solutions to both mitigate these environmental impacts, while accelerating the delivery of more sustainable innovations to the many industries that need real-world solutions. When you work in the industrial world, one truth that hits you square in the face is the need for SCALE. For clean tech to deliver on its promise, it must have a pathway to deliver at a global scale. Much of the last seven years of my life have been grappling with this exact challenge. At Lyten, we had created 3D Graphene, a material with truly disruptive properties, but that was originally at lab scale. So today, I am sitting between the world of cutting-edge material science and industrial scaleup, which for an engineer is an incredibly fun place to be.
What does your company do, for whom, and how does it fit into the bigger picture of solving global issues with clean tech?
Simply put, we not only decarbonize greenhouse gasses – we uniquely leverage the full value chain of the carbon molecule. Historically, to achieve the benefits of carbon that economies have thrived on for energy and materials, you had to burn carbon, creating the environmental toll we see today. In 2015, I co-founded a company with the intention of creating a way to transform hydrocarbon gasses into their component parts of clean-burning hydrogen and a solid form of carbon that can have direct industrial uses.
At Lyten, we are removing carbon that could have entered the atmosphere as CO2, and instead we are permanently sequestering it in the form of a value-added material we call Lyten 3D Graphene™, and manufacturing it into real-world value-added applications.
Lyten 3D Graphene™ is actually a foundational material technology that drives potentially large-scale decarbonization outcomes across countless industries. That is because we are uniquely optimizing graphene, which is a material shown to be 300 times stronger than structural steel. Lyten is able to tune our unique form of 3D Graphene to create materials with enhanced properties, like improved strength, reduced weight, and enhanced electrical conductivity. These improved properties directly translate into significant sustainability outcomes across a wide range of industries.
LytR: Our LytR material is a newly commercialized application – a polymer composite reinforced with Lyten 3D Graphene. This polymer requires 50 percent less plastic to build products with the same strength and durability as before and just as importantly, seamlessly integrates into existing manufacturing processes. You will start to see these polymers in commercial products in early 2023. The amount of plastic reduction and plastic waste in the world could be dramatically affected by this innovation alone if adopted at scale.
LytCell: Our LytCell lithium-sulfur battery technology is designed for creating a more sustainable alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric vehicles. When we infuse 3D Graphene into our new LytCell lithium-sulfur battery, the result is a highly energy-dense power source solution that will help drive the transformation from fossil fuel-burning cars to electric vehicles. Unlike lithium-ion and solid-state batteries for EVs, our LytCell EV™ batteries do not use rare earth metals, which are often sourced from areas of conflict, with poor mining practices, and incredibly long supply chains with high carbon footprint, before they make it into an EV battery in your car. Our LytCell battery will have a 60 percent lower carbon footprint than lithium-ion, and a 40 percent lower carbon footprint than solid state. The battery is easily recyclable and can be entirely sourced and manufactured in the U.S. We are getting a lot of attention for our LytCell from companies in the automotive, aerospace, defense, and logistics industries who are working with Lyten and adapting Lyten’s 3D Graphene applications and lithium-sulfur battery technology to meet their demands.
What do you think is the most important thing we can be doing in terms of clean tech solutions?
Clean tech is about innovating nearly every aspect of our lives and there is no shortage of small ways we can be driving down our carbon footprint each and every day. But, if we are going to hit net zero goals, we need some big breakthroughs that come on the back of years and sometimes decades of foundational research. There is no single solution to solving climate change. There is simply so much room for innovation in the clean tech space.
So if we are going to keep innovating at the pace required, we need to be fostering innovation from all directions: in schools, in universities, in startups and in innovation labs within existing technology and scientific companies. Reflecting on the last seven years of my life since co-founding Lyten, my hope is that the work we are doing at Lyten to make a solid carbon-based nanomaterial, like Lyten 3D Graphene, broadly available at commercial scale will serve as a foundation for so many others to innovate on top of to drive big, global scale sustainability outcomes.
LinkedIn: Dan Cook