By GREGORY ZELLER //
A rising star of Stony Brook University’s science-commercialization ecosystem is getting a major boost from Google.
ThermoLift, headquartered at SBU’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center and a member of the university’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, has been accepted into Google Cloud for Startups and has received “cloud computing credits” valued at $20,000.
Google Cloud for Startups is designed to help early-stage tech enterprises scale up their businesses by offering them the same tools used by Google itself. Selectees can access the Google Compute Engine, the Infrastructure as a Service component of the Google Cloud Platform, built atop the global infrastructure that runs the Google’s search engine, Gmail, YouTube and more.
ThermoLift will use the GCE to complete “advanced engineering” projects, according to the company – specifically, to run “computationally intensive engineering simulations.”
The big advantage, noted Siddhartha Gardiraju, ThermoLift’s senior systems engineer, is speed.
“GCE will provide ThermoLift multi-core and cluster-computing capabilities which cut simulation times by days,” Gardiraju said. “This allows ThermoLift to run design-exploration and optimization studies at a dramatically increased rate, reducing the time it takes to develop a new technology.”
Mastering new technologies, of course, is kind of ThermoLift’s thing. The 2012 startup – 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 – receives its Google Cloud bonus on the heels of its most rigorous testing round yet, putting its pump through its paces at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
And it’s still basking in the glow of “Energy Savings Potential and RD&D Opportunities for Commercial Building HVAC Systems,” an exhaustive U.S. Department of Energy study that ranked ThermoLift’s Vuilleumier-cycle heat pump as the best of 18 “high-priority technology options” worthy of development.
The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy begins its December 2017 report with a review of 300 global technologies – and eventually concludes that ThermoLift’s “TC-Cycle” pump is not only the best option to reduce HVAC system energy consumption in the Alternative Gas-Fired Heat-Pump Technologies category, but No. 1 among all 18 high-priority technologies, outclassing electric heat pumps and a host of current-system enhancements.
Now, knee-deep in a $25 million funding round, the company is looking to not only complete a natural gas-powered device that promises up to a 50 percent reduction in HVAC costs, along with dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but to design future upgrades powered by hydrogen and even solar energy, virtually eliminating all carbon-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions.
All of the company’s short- and long-term goals get a boost from the Google Cloud for Startups designation, according to ThermoLift cofounder and President Peter Hofbauer, who invented the patented Thermal Compression Cycle device upon which the TC-Cycle tech is based.
“We are very pleased to work with Google Cloud and proud to have been selected for this award,” Hofbauer said. “As a developing company, access to high-speed computing allows our engineering cycle to accelerate, a resource not available in the early days of innovation.”