16th November 2023

UbiQD rolls out new greenhouse product, eyes bigger New Mexico manufacturing facility

UbiGro Cover installed on a farm in New York. Photo credit to UbiQD, Inc. Los Alamos-based startup UbiQD Inc.'s UbiGro Cover product installed on a farm in New York. Courtesy of UbiQD Inc. Los Alamos's UbiQD Inc. hopes a new roofing product can complement its existing greenhouse-related technology as the startup looks toward some big physical expansion in the year ahead. Its new product, called UbiGro Cover, is part of UbiQD's greenhouse brand of products. That brand includes the startup's existing UbiGro Inner product, which is a type of fluorescent film — built using compounds made with the startup's namesake quantum dot technology — that increases the photosynthetic efficiency of greenhouse glass. While UbiGro Inner, as its name implies, is a film that goes inside greenhouse glass, UbiGro Cover integrates into greenhouse roofs themselves. It's a new product that "naturally" addresses some issues that came from UbiGro Inner, Hunter McDaniel, UbiQD's founder and CEO, told New Mexico Inno. McDaniel said UbiQD has been developing UbiGro Cover for over two years. The product is thenext evolution of the startup's existing greenhouse film material, he said, which uses the same foundational quantum dot technology but in a slightly different form. Greenhouses in New Mexico, Arizona and New York currently have UbiGro Cover installed, and UbiQD is taking orders for delivery of the product ahead of the upcoming spring growing season. McDaniel added the startup already has a "backlog" of customers for UbiGro Cover, with many of those being existing customers of UbiGro Inner. UbiQD leverages established supply chains in order to build the UbiGro Cover film to send to customers, McDaniel said. The startup manufactures quantum dots in-house, which it then sends to a company based in the Midwest to compound into polymers. Those polymers are then sent to a separate contract manufacturer in the U.S. to produce the quantum dot-based film. Quantum dots, or semiconductor nanoparticles used to optimize harvesting light across a range of color spectrums, are used in UbiQD's greenhouse products — UbiGro Inner and Cover — as well as in solar and security ink applications. The startup is currently upgrading its Los Alamos headquarters facility to handle additional quantum dot production. But as those different verticals — agriculture, solar and security inks — expand, UbiQD needs to produce a lot more quantum dots. To handle that required increase in production, McDaniel said the startup is in the early stages of planning a new, larger manufacturing facility. That site, he said, would provide about 50 times the manufacturing capacity UbiQD has currently. The startup recently started working with an outside firm to lead the design of that new facility. New Mexico is the most likely home of the new site, McDaniel said. UbiQD hopes to start construction in the first half of 2024 and start operations in the second half of the year. Quantum dots, which the startup wants to expand the manufacturing of in New Mexico, made international headlines recently. This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to three chemists — Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Aleksey Yekimov — "for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots," according to The Nobel Prize website. The recognition "put wind" in UbiQD's sails, McDaniel said. In fact, he said that Bawendi, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is directly tied to UbiQD, being named on quantum dot-related patents licensed exclusively to the startup. "Our partners all of a sudden feel a little bit smart," McDaniel said. "Like, 'Hey, we were in on this thing before it was cool,' if you will." Alongside the new product rollout and Nobel recognition, UbiQD has also hired five new employees over the next two months and has positions open for several more. The startup struck a deal with a large solar company in August and made strides in the security ink market late last year through a separate international partnership. Read the original article here.