August 12, 2022
ATS Central June 2022
"We're the only ones who have been able to take waste graphite and can actually make it better than what it was," says Bill Easter, CEO/founder, X-Batt.
ATS Central June 2022
More than 5,500 athletes and coaches participated in 19 sports at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games June 5-12 in Orlando.

Photo: Alika Jenner

ATS Central June 2022
Heather Bigard, provost and executive vice president of Lake-Sumter State College was named the next president of the school, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
ATS Central June 2022
Sure Pods, a maker of prefabricated bathrooms, expanded the size of its Orange County facility to 120,000 square feet and plans to add 60 jobs.

Central Florida Roundup

Oviedo-based X-Batt found a way to recycle graphite from spent lithium-ion batteries to create new batteries

Amy Keller | 6/21/2022

INNOVATION

Battery Breakthrough

Lithium-ion batteries are a common power source for everything from laptops to cell phones and increasingly cars — but at the end of their useful lives, 95% of them end up landfills. Looking to change that, Oviedo-based X-Batt has found a way to recycle graphite from spent lithium-ion batteries to create new batteries. What’s more, the graphite they recycle performs better than it worked in the original batteries.

Bill Easter, CEO and founder of X-Batt (and parent companies X-Mat and Semplastics), says the company’s technology arose from Department of Energy-funded work it did turning coal into battery materials with its proprietary resin-based system. “It was very successful. We surprised ourselves and said, well, recycled graphite is better than coal — coal has all these impurities,” says Easter, who previously worked in microelectronics at AT&T and Bell Labs.

Recycling graphite from lithium-ion batteries is also cheaper than starting from scratch. “I like to call it not only environmentally sustainable, but economically sustainable,” says Easter, who predicts the technology is about two years away from commercialization. Other companies, he notes, are working on recycling the other critical metals in lithium-ion batteries, such as cobalt, nickel and manganese — “so we’ll be part of ecosystem, but no one else is able to do the graphite right now economically,” Easter says.

FINANCE

  • Jacksonville-based VyStar Credit Union is expanding into Brevard County with the opening of a branch in Titusville and another in Suntree, located between Rockledge and Melbourne. The credit union has made a heavy push into Central Florida over the past couple of years, opening branches in downtown Orlando, Sanford, Oviedo, Mount Dora and Winter Garden. It’s planning for a location in Lake Mary.

INSURANCE

  • Daytona Beach-based Brown & Brown completed its acquisition of Orchid Underwriters Agency, a Vero Beach underwriter of catastrophe-exposed property and high-net worth personal lines, and CrossCover Insurance Services, a Texas-based underwriter of middle-market commercial properties.

DEVELOPMENT

  • Brent Bartholomew was named Orlando area president of M/I Homes, succeeding David Byrnes, who retired in March. Bartholomew has more than 16 years of experience in home building and was most recently division president at David Weekley Homes.
  • Protea Capital Partners, a California-based developer and owner of senior living facilities, has opened a $25-million-plus assisted living and memory care facility called Sunscape Daytona Beach along North Williamson Boulevard. Solvere Living, the operations division of St. Petersburg-based Solutions Advisors Group, is operating the 85-unit (100-bed) rental community, which features resort-style amenities such as a movie theater, fitness center, dining, a salon and a bistro/coffee bar. Pricing starts at $4,179 a month.

HEALTH CARE

  • Walmart Health is entering the Central Florida market with a health center in Sanford, adjacent to its super center. The clinic will provide a range of services, including primary and urgent care, labs, X-ray and diagnostics, behavioral health and counseling, as well as dental care, optical care, hearing services seven days a week.
  • AdventHealth named Dr. Steven Smith chief scientific officer for the system. Smith will continue to lead research for AdventHealth’s Central Florida division and lead AdventHealth’s partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center. In other news, the hospital system began distributing more than $1.7 million in community impact grants to eight Central Florida non-profits to address homelessness, access to mental health services and other regional health challenges.

HIGHER EDUCATION

  • Philanthropists Cici and Hyatt Brown pledged $25 million to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — the single largest gift in the school’s history — to help the university create a business makerspace focused on high-paying jobs for Floridians and build on the success of Embry-Riddle’s 5-year-old research park in Daytona Beach.
  • Stetson University in DeLand has increased employees’ pay by a dollar-per-hour to provide relief from inflation and rising gas prices and is giving employees an across-the-board raise of $1,800. If that increase doesn’t bring employees’ pay to at least $15-an-hour, the university will boost it to that level.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

  • Grant Thornton, an audit, tax and advisory firm, opened its second facility in Orlando. The “center of excellence” houses 80 employees and enhances the firm’s growing national indirect tax practice, which encompasses sales/ use tax, property tax, business licenses and other taxes beyond corporate taxes.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Astronics Test Systems — which does testing for a range of products, including military aircraft, heart monitors and commuter trains — is moving its headquarters from Irvine, Calif., to Orlando to be closer to many of its customers. The company plans to add 60 employees to its Orlando staff of 125 over the next two years. The company will invest $13 million over the next decade in a 70,000-sq.-ft. facility in Central Florida Research Park.
  • CACI International, a manufacturer of laser communications technology for national security and commercial space missions and a provider of photonic design services, is opening a 13,000-sq.- ft. manufacturing facility in Central Florida Research Park.
  • SoarTech, a Michigan-based artificial intelligence company that builds systems for defense, government and commercial applications, is doubling its square footage and will add 26 jobs over the next three years to its staff of 49 in Orlando.

TRANSPORTATION

  • Beep, the 3-year-old self-driving shuttle operator based in Lake Nona, received $25 million in funding, led by ABS Capital, with participation from Intel Capital, Blue Lagoon Capital, TDF Ventures and Hidden Creek Management. The company has tested its technology on more than 20 public roads nationwide over the last two years.
  • UK-based TUI Airways, which used to fly into Orlando Sanford International Airport, is now flying into Melbourne Orlando International Airport and will bring about 150,000 British visitors to the Space Coast each year.

Tags: Central, Feature

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