Midwest startups well-positioned to help meet electric vehicle demand

Welcome back from the long holiday weekend! Today’s Midwest tech headlines begin with a decent amount percolating in the electric vehicle space.


  • California passed a landmark rule requiring more than half of trucks sold in the state to be zero emissions by 2035, The New York Times reports. The move could spark a nationwide trend and mean big business for Midwest-based electric truck manufacturers, including Lordstown Motors in Ohio and Rivian in Michigan. Amazon last year ordered 100,000 electric trucks from Rivian, reportedly the largest ever order of electric delivery vehicles.

  • General Motors is among the Midwest auto makers competing to deliver a “million-mile” EV battery pack, Grist reports in an article that breaks down the EV battery revolution. Extending battery lifespan has implications for raw materials supply and meeting the rising global demand for metals, according to a researcher at the Argonne National Laboratory ReCell Center, a lithium-ion battery recycling innovation center, quoted in the article.

  • A report from DriveOhio, an Ohio Department of Transportation mobility initiative, assesses the need for Direct Current Fast Charging to advance EV use throughout the state. It lays out a statewide strategy for infrastructure installation and creating EV-friendly corridors.

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🛢️ BIOFUEL: Projects in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin are among seven to receive a collective $1.94 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to improve passenger vehicle energy efficiency through the use of biofuels.

🔌 ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Purdue University innovators developed a more energy efficient drive mechanism for compressors that are used for cooling buildings, cars, and airplanes.


  • Indianapolis startup Heliponix has experienced increased interest in its in-home hydroponic vegetable growing technology during the pandemic, reports the Times Union. The founders met at Purdue University while working on a sustainable food growing project.

  • A former Silicon Valley tech exec relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, to run agtech company GrainBridge, reports Axios. The business’ software helps farmers determine the best time to sell their crops.

🌬️ WIND:

  • The Plum Creek wind farm in Nebraska that is helping Vail, Colorado, reach its 100% renewable energy goal is highlighted by Colorado Public Radio as an innovative way virtual power purchase agreements can bring large-scale renewable energy resources to the grid in geographically diverse areas.

  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is leading work to bring wind into the distributed energy mainstream via the International Energy Agency Wind Technology Collaboration Program. The global team is researching how to make smaller scale, localized wind technologies affordable and flexible for widespread use, similar to roof-mounted solar.


  • A new platform technology developed by researchers at Northwestern University tests for 17 different water contaminants in what’s being touted as a “pregnancy test for water.” The handheld technology uses as little as a single water droplet to evaluate quality in the field, reducing the time and expense of sending water samples to a lab.

  • Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working on “synthetic trees” that absorb and release moisture similarly to live trees by using nanoporous disks. The synthetic trees have potential use cases in passive water and energy harvesting.

Let me know about other businesses and organizations advancing tech in the Midwest. Send news tips, press releases, and feedback to katie@centered.tech or connect on LinkedIn and Twitter @centereddottech.

Centered is a publication of the Energy News Network, in partnership with the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation and mHUB.