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Jackson's Sesame Solar makes nanogrid with 100% renewable energy, first of its kind in the world.

Sesame Solar nanogrid
Posted at 10:22 AM, Nov 22, 2022

Sesame Solar debuted the world’s first 100% renewable mobile nanogrids, meaning the startup company that’s based right in Jackson is the first to use solar and green hydrogen to power essential services.

Seemingly every year, a natural disaster strikes causing millions of dollars in damage and impacting countless lives. Those images have stayed with Sesame Solar's CEO and co-founder Lauren Flanagan.

“After seeing the devastation by these weather events like Hurricane Katrina was the first one, that was my epiphany, but many more since of increasing severity, I wanted to do something to address the problem,” she said.

Photos: Hurricane Katrina remembered 12 years later

People come out of their homes to a flooded street after Hurricane Katrina hit the area with heavy wind and rain August 29, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Katrina was down graded to a category 4 storm as it approached New Orleans.

Flanagan says when the next disaster hits, her new product will bring connectivity to communities in a fast, flexible and fossil-fuel-free way.

“It’s very exciting to be right here in Jackson, Michigan. The first of its kind,” she said.

The nanogrid is designed to help medical responders with off-the-grid power. It can serve as a central command center to receive information, power water purification to deliver clean water and can even operate as a EV charger.

“And we’re able to have to continuous power without fossil fuel deliveries,” Flanagan said. “We’re not contributing to climate change, which is, of course, the cause of these extreme weather events.”

The company started five years ago when Hurricane Maria happened.

“Our first deployments were in the island of Dominica, where we actually are backing up medical clinics and hospitals, and part of the clinic in one case, we literally take big tanks of rainwater, filtrated water, and we filter it and make 130 gallons a day of potable water," Flanagan said. "We have Wi-Fi and power, and they actually use it as part of the clinic. We were in hurricanes, our companies Cox and Comcast were out supporting in hurricanes Ida and Ian most recently in Fort Myers and in Louisiana last year, and we’re supporting in wildfires as well as out in California.”

Nanogrids can produce between 3 and 20 kilowatts of solar power. They say it’s easy to use, easy to transport, compact and, once you add sun and water, it will generate power within 15 minutes.

“The biggest thing that gets me excited about this though is that we’re just helping people and putting power in places where it’s not there and helping build that infrastructure up. It’s really nice, and you’re not tearing up the Earth while you’re doing it,” Flanagan said.

The U.S. Air Force, some major telecommunication companies and emergency response organizations have already been using Sesame Solar’s nanogrids. Flanagan says they are hiring and hope to grow their staff, which started at 10 people at the beginning of the year, to 100.

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