ThermoLift runs with the elite at CERAWeek 2019

Bringing the heat: Paul Schwartz (left) and Peter Hofbauer (right) make ThermoLift's case in Houston.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A Stony Brook startup in hot pursuit of game-changing heat-pump technology sizzled last month at one of the nation’s biggest annual energy conferences.

ThermoLift, headquartered at Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, was one of only 11 companies invited to present during Climate Investments’ Venture Day, part of the 37th annual CERAWeek conference, held in March in Texas.

Named for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a circa-1983 Massachusetts-based energy consultancy acquired in 2004 by international IHS Energy, the annual weeklong conference is regarded as a topflight convention of global energy stakeholders.

And the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s Venture Day program – open to 150 representatives of 13 OGCI companies, CERAWeek partners, entrepreneurs and related experts – is a coveted score for a startup like ThermoLift: OGCI Climate Investments, a $1.3 billion investment fund, is committing big bucks to companies with ready-to-pilot energy-efficiency technologies and business models.

Real guts: Inside the Vuilleumier cycle heat pump.

Noting “exposure to a global audience of like-minded strategic and professional investors in the gas sector,” ThermoLift CEO Paul Schwartz said his company – which is developing an efficient, natural gas-powered air conditioner and cold-climate heat pump that combines heating, cooling and hot water delivery into a single appliance – was thrilled to be invited to pitch at the elite program.

“OGCI Climate Investments’ $50 million Venture Day is an incredibly unique opportunity,” noted Schwartz, who launched ThermoLift in 2012 with cofounder and President Peter Hofbauer, who invented the patented Thermal Compression Cycle device at the heart of the ThermoLift pump.

With their startup in the throes of a $25 million funding round, Hofbauer joined Schwartz at the Houston conference to make ThermoLift’s case. Their presentation focused on commercial HVAC and refrigeration applications and “newly identified industrial applications,” according to a company statement.

Part of the company’s go-to-market strategy involves the liquid natural gas industry, including liquefication and transportation applications.

The CERAWeek appearance comes on the heels of another business booster for ThermoLift, which in March announced it had been accepted into the Google Cloud for Startups program, including a score of $20,000 worth of “cloud computing credits.”

The Stony Brook company – which recently completed a rigorous testing round of its refrigerant-free Vuilleumier cycle air conditioner and cold-climate heat pump technology at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory – said it would use the high-speed supercomputing credits to run “computationally intensive engineering simulations.”