By GREGORY ZELLER //
A shining star of Stony Brook University’s commercialization and innovation ecosystems is renewing ties with an old friend – and leveraging some fresh international funding – in its efforts to perfect its energy-efficient environmental-control systems.
ThermoLift Inc., headquartered at SBU’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center and a member of the university’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, has inked a second collaborative contract with the Gas Technology Institute, a Chicago-based R&D and training organization serving the U.S. natural gas industry.
With “sponsorship funding” from Utilization Technology Development – a member-controlled, Illinois-based collaborative of 18 natural gas distributors, serving some 40 million customers in the United States and Europe – ThermoLift and the GTI will team up to enhance the combustion system of ThermoLift’s natural gas-powered air conditioner and cold-climate heat pump system.
ThermoLift announced its first partnership with the GTI in 2015, noting then the Chicago-based institute would be instrumental in putting ThermoLift’s second-generation prototype through its paces.
The institute is “looking forward to continuing our relationship with ThermoLift,” GTI Managing Director William Liss said this week, adding the renewed collaboration would focus on efforts to “deliver an optimized combustion design for volume production.”
While the exact terms of Utilization Technology Development’s financial support were not disclosed, former KeySpan CEO and National Grid U.S. Chairman Bob Catell agreed with Liss that the new round of GTI work – and UTD’s backing – would help speed ThermoLift’s patented technology to market.
“This cooperation is paving the way for ThermoLift to move from development to commercial production by bringing the power of utilities into the equation,” noted Catell, who among other current roles serves as chairman of Stony Brook University’s AERTC.
In addition to accelerating ThermoLift’s commercialization timetable, the UTD funding and second GTI contract “demonstrate the broad and diverse spectrum of interest in our cost-effective HVAC technology,” according to ThermoLift cofounder and CEO Paul Schwartz.
“Our engagement with utilities addresses an important piece of our market strategy and further highlights industry support for our HVAC solution to address issues such as peak demand and load balancing,” Schwartz said.
ThermoLift – which receives business-development support from CEBIP and has received prior funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and various private investors – is developing a patented Thermal Compression Cycle device invented by company cofounder and President Peter Hofbauer.
The company predicts the tech will ultimately reduce a building’s HVAC costs by up to 50 percent while greatly reducing related greenhouse-gas emissions.
Earlier this year, the SBU-anchored Manufacturing and Technology Resource Consortium announced it was issuing two grants – a $10,000 award to ThermoLift and a $4,000 stipend to the Plainview-based Composite Prototyping Center – to help ThermoLift incorporate advanced composite materials in its Gen 2.0 prototype.