NEXUS-NY Blog


Ducted Turbines International – Producing Twice the Energy of Traditional Wind Turbines

As part of the NEXUS-NY clean energy accelerator, university researchers and pre-revenue clean energy businesses have been working towards commercializing their novel technologies. Backed by education, finances and business support provided by the NEXUS-NY program, Ducted Turbines International (DTI) found a solution that reduces the time it currently takes to return the high capital cost investment of existing small wind technologies.

Ducted Turbines InternationalCompany: Ducted Turbines International

Website: ductedturbinesinternational.com

Description: Ducted Turbines International (DTI) is a wind turbine company working to provide the lowest cost per kWh in the small turbine market (<10kW). Its wind turbine encompasses two patent pending technologies and produces twice the energy of an open bladed, traditional wind turbine of the same diameter. This solution reduces the payback period by half the time, and provides customers with a quality product designed to last more than 10 years in the field.

Location: Clarkson University | Potsdam, NY

Founding Team: Dr. Ken Visser (President and CEO, Founder); Paul Pavone (VP Product Commercialization, Founder)

NEXUS-NY Research: Thanks to the NEXUS-NY program, DTI made great technical progress on their technology and towards commercialization. Their optimized ducted wind turbine uses a specially designed aft rotor systems to accelerate the wind and increase the power output of the turbine rotor.

DTI’s first key technology is in the rotor design, which creates a proper twist of the blade to perform more efficiently than an open blade rotor in the presence of a duct. DTI’s second key technology lies in the rotor location. Ducted turbines have traditionally placed the rotor at the throat of the duct, the location of the highest velocity. DTI discovered that if the rotor is moved farther into the duct, the power output of the turbine increases dramatically.

Based on these patent pending technologies, DTI plans to concentrate on microgrids and backup tower systems for critical facilities on a smaller scale.

“Our customer discovery confirmed that it is the cost per kWh is a key driver in the business. Our approach will allow customers to generate more energy per unit cost. Our target is to cut the ROI for their money by half”, says Ken Visser.

DTI also made exciting connections with industry experts including NEXUS-NY advisor David Dussault of P1 Industries, who manufactured the turbine blades for their prototype. And they partnered with the NYS Science and Technology Law Center at Syracuse University to handle their IP landscape as they look to patent their technology.

“The small wind wind turbine market is set to expand tremendously. The market needs a less expensive and more efficient turbine. We can deliver this by focusing our attention on the IP, which is centered around an optimized integrated design approach. The rotor blades and duct need to be designed synergistically. It’s not easy, but it is doable.  This will then open up more markets by enabling increase energy harvesting at even lower wind speeds, reducing one’s overall costs,” added Visser.

Next Steps: After graduating the NEXUS-NY clean energy accelerator, Ducted Turbines International has recently completed a series of very successful wind tunnel tests at the University of Waterloo in Canada. This turbine test rig provided the data needed to validate the Computation Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling. DTI will soon be releasing the results of these tests, which will help them move forward to commercialization. DTI is also pursuing a NYSERDA ACE grant for alternative energies. This grant could yield up to $1 million in funding over three years.

Contact: 315.268.7687 | kvisser@clarkson.edu

Phase Innovations – Advanced, Low Cost Air Conditioning System

Over the past year, several university researchers and pre-revenue companies have been working diligently with NEXUS-NY to accelerate the commercialization of their early-stage, clean-energy technologies. Now with the educational, financial and business support of the NEXUS-NY clean energy seed accelerator, Phase Innovations will continue commercializing their membrane heat pump (MHP) technology. Researchers with Phase Innovations have worked to test many different materials and designs for the development of their advanced prototype. These materials are showing improved performance and cost, and their air conditioning technology has been identified as very promising by the Department of Energy.

Phase Innovations - SUNY AlfredCompany: Phase Innovations

Website: phaseinnovations.com

Description: Phase Innovations is developing a low-cost, advanced air conditioning system without chemical refrigerants that uses less energy than conventional systems. The company’s technology is based on water permeable membrane modules that enable precise control of temperature and humidity in any climate. Capacity is easily scaled between residential and commercial applications. The unique, patent pending design offers customers the option to use low temperature waste heat, as opposed to electricity to drive the cooling process. The two-ton cooling module for Phase Innovation’s initial customer validation prototype is anticipated to occupy a footprint of about one cubic meter.

Location: SUNY Alfred State, 10 Upper College Dr, Alfred, NY 14802

Founding Team: Nathan DeMario, Cofounder; Matt Lawrence, Cofounder; Jon Owejan, Cofounder; Tanya Waite; Business Advisor; Steve Wood, IP Advisor

NEXUS-NY Research: Like most other teams, Phase Innovations consists primarily of technical people with backgrounds in research, engineering, and design. This experience is an exercise of technology transfer – a process that involves not only technical expertise, but also requires business acumen and clear communication with the many different parties to bring the technology to market.

It has been challenging, but developing these skills makes us all much better at what we do. As one of our team members says, ‘What is the point of research if we don’t find a way to make breakthroughs like this available to everyone?’ This experience has tremendous benefit to all involved, and without this opportunity, many technologies, like those developed through the NEXUS NY program, are destined to live only in a lab or journal article. – Jon Owejan, Cofounder, Phase Innovations

Phase Innovations: Cofounders Nathan DeMario and Jon OwejanNext Steps: After graduating the NEXUS-NY clean energy accelerator, Phase Innovations will move forward with product validation and market development.

“Product validation is, obviously, the most exciting thing for a new company like ours,” says Owejan. “To see something go from the idea stage to the prototype stage is very satisfying.”

Additionally, validation and optimization are well suited to the skill set of the Phase Innovations’ technical team, whereas Jon says market development, however, is new to most of the team.

“The customer discovery process helped us establish dialog with many interested parties, so we have a very clear picture of customer expectations. But as you might expect, we are apprehensive of getting the product out to customers.  Will they like it?  Will it truly be the answer for a persistent customer problem?  We won’t know until we actually install the system at a customer’s business.  It’s going to be a very exciting next few months,” says Owejan.

Contact: 585.905.8140 | jowejan@phaseinnovations.com

NEXUS-NY 2016 Demo Day

7 Clean Energy Startups Changing the World

To date, NEXUS-NY has helped launch 15 startup companies. Eight graduates have gone on to raise more than $6.5MM, and four have generated initial customer revenue.

Interested commercializing your clean energy technology? Apply to NEXUS-NY.

Now meet the graduates of the 2016 Cohort of NEXUS-NY. Each presented at our annual Demo Day in Rochester, NY after completed the NEXUS-NY clean energy seed accelerator program.

Phase Innovations (SUNY Alfred)
Phase Innovations is developing a low-cost, advanced air conditioning system without chemical refrigerants, and which uses less energy than conventional systems.

Ducted Turbines International (Clarkson University)
DTI is a wind turbine company working to provide the lowest cost per kWh in the small turbine market (<10kW).

MIMiC (RPI)
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is developing modular, switchable heating and cooling systems that reduce building energy consumption, while increasing occupant comfort.

Dimensional Energy (Cornell University)
Dimensional Energy is breaking new ground in artificial photosynthesis by converting waste carbon dioxide into green fuels using only sunlight as an energy source.

NanoHydro (SUNY Buffalo)
NanoHydro has developed a novel, proprietary nanomaterial capable of generating hydrogen gas from water, on demand and at room temperature.

BioEnergySP
BioEnergySP is working to commercialize its patent pending industrial equipment for wastewater treatment. Its Electroactive Attached Growth (EAG) modules save energy and expand treatment capacity for municipal and energy customers.

Cellec Technologies (RIT)
Cellec Technologies is using patented carbon nanotube (CNT) technologies to increase the performance of high-end lithium ion batteries by 40% for defense and intelligence applications.

About NEXUS-NY
NEXUS-NY is a clean energy seed accelerator. Each year we provide financial, business and educational support to around 10 entrepreneurial teams, which are selected through a competitive application process. Program participants are eligible to receive $50,000 or more of equity-free financial support, plus additional service from NEXUS-NY mentors and partner organizations. Our entrepreneurs come from research universities and the general community, and share several common traits:

  • They are passionate about their technology and want to start a great company
  • They want to solve big problems for real customers
  • They recognize the need to demonstrate their technology and business model though meaningful proof-of-concept prototypes and customer interactions

NEXUS-NY provides a structured customer commercialization process organized around answering three fundamental questions:

  • What is the best commercialization pathway for a given technology? Could it be through a startup?
  • Does technology work in a way that’s relevant to intended customers?
  • Will a customer actively engage to help validate the technology and business model?

The most promising graduating companies are eligible to receive follow on equity investments. NEXUS-NY is a program of High Tech Rochester (HTR) and is funded largely through a proof-of-concept center grant from NYSERDA.

Stay on the pulse of clean energy news, deals and events. Sign up for NEXUS-NY newsletters.

Cornell Research Team Competes for $20M Carbon XPRIZE

NEXUS-NY’s Cornell Team, Dimensional Energy, Moves to Round 2 of Carbon XPRIZE Competition

We’re energized to share Dimensional Energy’s latest milestone – a feature in Engineering.com for their participation in the Carbon XPRIZE competition! The Cornell research team as now been selected as a semi-finalist in the competition with judges saying they are more confident than ever that real breakthroughs are about to happen!

The XPRIZE Foundation is running the competition, which awards $20 million to the team that designs the best solution for converting carbon into something that can be sold to offset the cost to capture it.

Dimensional Energy GraphicDimensional Energy has developed a photoreactor that converts sunlight, CO2 and water into usable energy, such as methanol and other fuels.

Watch -> Dimensional Energy’s Promotional Video

Entrepreneurial lead Jason Salfi says the team has created an efficient solution to convert the sun’s energy without electricity. Through the development of a novel fiber optic waveguide, the process allows the photoreactor to direct sunlight to a specific location.

When the sunlight reaches a surface that’s coated with a nanofluid catalyst, also developed by Dimension Energy, the covalent bonds of the CO2 and H2O molecules break. As the component elements form new bonds, hydrocarbon fuels are created.

New this year, NEXUS-NY connected two scientific researchers, Dr. David Erickson and Dr. Tobias Hanrath of Cornell University, to test the commercial potential of using their joint technologies to convert CO2 into methanol. Salfi and partner entrepreneurial lead, Clayton Poppe, have been assisting with the testing and commercialization of this method.

Dimensional Energy has now been selected into Round 2 of the $20MM Carbon XPrize Competition. Dr. Paul Bunje and Dr. Marcius Extavour’s latest blog post announces the competition’s Round 2 Semi-finalists, as well as provides more information about the NRG Cosia Team Summit, which will be held in New Orleans on December 7-9.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest details as they unfold!

Learn more -> NEXUS-NY Pilots New University Research Opportunity