Meet the 2017 NEXUS-NY Research Teams
NEXUS-NY’s proof-of-concept accelerator is ready for another year of helping to catalyze the commercialization of research-derived clean energy technologies. After months of meetings at colleges and universities across NYS, the NEXUS-NY team has selected 9 rockstar clean energy innovations that have major potential to power innovation, and fuel the future.
Here’s your first look at the promising early-stage clean energy technologies NEXUS-NY will invest in, and mentor in 2017.
Active Energy Storage (Cornell) – Thermomechanical energy storage
AES technology intelligently manages different sources of thermal energy to inexpensively store electricity. This helps incorporate renewable resources into the power grid. Diurnal temperature swings can further enhance storage efficiency when storing electricity as thermal energy. AES technology represents a step forward over conventional pumped-heat electricity storage units.
Entrepreneur Lead: Levon Atoyan
Graduate Research Assistant and PhD candidate of Electrical, Computer Engineering at Cornell University. He is a participant in Technology Entrepreneurship at Cornell. Levon received a Bachelor of Engineering from McGill University. Publications include: Helical Plasma Striations in Liners in the Presence of an External Axial Magnetic Field and Early time studies of cylindrical liner implosions at 1 MA on COBRA.
Technical Lead: Mitchell Ishmael
Tester Lab Research Assistant and PhD candidate of Materials Sciences & Engineering, Thermodynamics & Energy Storage at Cornell University. Mitchell is a recipient of a Commercialization Fellowship. He received a Bachelor of Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering. He’s interested in understanding heat capacity of fluid mixtures under supercritical conditions.
Alta Films (formerly CQuest Partners LLC) (Clarkson) – Carbon nanosheets for energy storage
Alta Films is commercializing the next-generation, renewable energy storage technology for supercapacitors, lithium-ion batteries and beyond. Alta Films holds several of Dr. Mitlin’s patents related to producing a unique graphene-like carbon nanosheet material from low cost agricultural products.
Entrepreneur Lead: David Hessler
Numerous consulting assignments including Innovation Advisor, and EIR with the NYS Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA); Business Advisor with MicroGen Systems; Board Member with the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson University; and Advisory Board Member with the iCLEAN Incubator. David received an MBA and MSE from the University of Michigan, and a BSME from Clarkson University.
Technical Lead: Dr. David Mitlin
Professor and GE Chair in Oil and Gas Systems at Clarkson University jointly in the Departments of Chemical/Biomolecular and Mechanical Engineering. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed journal articles and presented over 80 keynote talks. David holds 3 U.S. patents, is an Editor for the Journal of Materials Science and serves on the Board of Review for Metallurgical and Materials Transactions. PhD from Berkeley.
FirePower (Syracuse) – Flame-assisted fuel cells for micro-CHP
FirePower seeks to create cleaner combustion through the combined use of fuel cell and combustion theory and technology by reducing the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in combustion processes. The concept utilizes a two-stage combustor, also known as a rich-burn, quick-mix, lean-burn or RQL combustor, with a fuel cell integrated between the fuel-rich and fuel-lean combustion zones. This flame-assisted fuel cell generates electrochemical power at high efficiency, as well as heat for a range of applications including combined cycles, space heating, and jet engines.
Entrepreneur Lead: Ryan Milcarek
Lab Manager at the Combustion and Energy Research Laboratory, and PhD candidate of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Syracuse University. Ryan earned a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation and an ASHRAE Graduate Grant-In-Aid, Life Member Club designation. His various publications include Micro-tubular Flame-assisted Fuel Cell Stacks.
Technical Lead: Dr. Jeongmin Ahn
Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University, and affiliated with the Combustion and Energy Research Laboratory (COMER). Jeongmin’s current research includes Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs). He was elected as Fellow of ASME, and received the Sustainable Aviation Research Society Science Award. He has nearly 200 publications.
LuX (SUNY Poly) – Thin film crystallization for PV
LuX is developing and commercializing technology to provide highly crystalline, roll-to-roll semiconductor films for photovoltaic and LED industries. This exciting platform technology is adaptable to a range of valuable materials and will disrupt the typical tradeoffs of cost and quality for high throughput manufacturing.
Entrepreneur Lead: Graeme Housser
PhD candidate at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Graeme is also a Graduate Student Intern at U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC). Prior to this, he was a Site Engineer at Suncor Energy. His several publications include Demonstration of PV Modules with Lightweight Mounting Systems on Commercial Rooftops.
Technical Lead: Shane McMahon
Phd Candidate and Research Assistant at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Shane received the Presidential Scholar Honorary Alumni Speaker award at Siena College (2016) and a $500,000 NYSERDA Bench to Prototype Grant (2015). Shane’s publications include Textured (111) Crystalline Silicon Thin Film Growth on Flexible Glass by E-beam Evaporation.
MicroEra Power (RIT Venture Creations) – Combined SOFC/IC engine system for distributed power generation
MicroEra Power is developing a highly efficient Enhanced Generator System, combining a natural gas engine and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). MicroEra Power envisions an energy management platform to provide backup power generation, peak-shaving, Demand Response, and the efficiency benefits of combined heat and power (CHP), and combined heat and cooling power (CHCP).
Entrepreneur Lead: Eleanor “Ellie” Rusling
CEO of MicroEra Power, housed in RIT’s Venture Creations Incubator. Board Member of Highland Hospital Foundation, Secretary of AHEAD Energy, 501c3 and Exec. Director of their Clean Energy Commercialization Center. As an experienced entrepreneur, Ellie has skills in technologies to market, grant writing, and investor relations. BA from Smith College and MS from the University of Rochester.
Technical Lead: M. James Grieve
CTO of MicroEra Power and Chairman of AHEAD Energy, 501c3. He is also a Board Member of the NH3 Fuel Association. James was a Chief Scientist for Delphi Corporation, and a Powertrain Systems Engineer for General Motors. He has 30 years of automotive engineering experience with emission controls, engine management systems, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels. James received his MBA from IESE Business School. He is named on over 40 patents.
Printed Solar (RIT) – Solution Processed Solar Cells
Printed Solar is developing a fully solution processed photovoltaic device that can be scalably manufactured using roll-to-roll techniques. Their solar cells outperform silicon in low light, enabling them to provide sufficient energy for low power electronic devices in ambient conditions.
Entrepreneur Lead: Dmitry Liapitch
Dmitry received a Master of Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is now pursuing a Master of Science from the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. Dmitry is also a professional Physics tutor and a former Research Fellow with the National Wildlife Federation. He was a finalist in RIT’s Tiger Tank in 2016 for his proposal on WoW Energy Systems.
Technical Lead: James Sinka
James is a materials scientist and entrepreneur specializing in perovskite photovoltaics with deep interests in sensing technology. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Projects include The Characterization of Novel Donor Materials for OPV by Cyclic Voltammetry, which reveals the electric potentials at which an analyte is oxidized and reduced.
SelfArray (RPI) – Directed self-assembly tech for LED & PV
SelfArray is an SBIR Phase I startup spun our of research conducted within LESA at RPI. SelfArray’s directed self-assembly (DSA) manufacturing technology uses magnetic levitation and vibration to rapidly arrange massive numbers of LED chips into a pixel-array for display applications. The company’s DSA technology differs fundamentally from both the widely accepted pick-and-place and the emerging transfer printing/stamping manufacturing methods, overcoming many issues associated with those technologies. DSA’s approach enables scalable, fast, and accurate self-assembly of micro-scale LEDs arrays at low capital and labor cost for the manufacturing of energy efficient LED direct view displays.
Entrepreneur Lead: Dr. Mark T. Durniak
PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at RPI. As a Sandia National Laboratory Excellence in Engineering Research Fellow at RPI, Mark was first to grow and achieve green luminescence from cubic GaN/GaInN. Published in Compound Semiconductor Magazine and Advanced Electronic Materials. He now focuses on characterizing magnetic directed-self-assembly of mm-scale LED chips for display and lighting applications.
Technical Lead: Clinton Ballinger
Clint is an Executive Entrepreneur in Residence at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he teaches and leads an NSF-funded I-Site program. He’s also an EIR with IgniteU NY, Strategic Advisor for Buzz Media Solutions and CEO of Evident Thermoelectrics. Prior to this, Clint was an Adjunct Professor at RPI and a Senior Scientist at Lockheed Martin. He received a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Suny Clean Water (UB) – Solar powered water purification
Suny Clean Water has developed an inexpensive solar sill that uses sunlight to purify dirty water up to four times faster than current commercial versions. Research shows this process is 88% efficient at channeling the energy in sunlight into evaporating water. The technology will allow people to generate their own drinking water much like they generate their own power using rooftop solar panels.
Entrepreneur Lead: Matthew Singer
Matthew is pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University at Buffalo Graduate School. He has held engineering internships at Siemens and Crestron Electronics. Matt has also participated in GRoW Home at UB, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, an international competition with the goal of educating the public about energy-saving residential designs.
Technical Lead: Chenyu Li
Former Research Assistant with the Nano-optics and Biophotonics Lab at University of Buffalo and the Quantum-Dot Materials and Devices Research Group at Tianjin University. Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Chenyu’s projects include fabricating plasmonic super solar light absorber, building surface plasmon resonance detector and fabricating quantum dots anode.
Tacus Technologies (Cornell) – Energy harvesting solutions
Tacus Technologies has developed a piezoelectrically powered RF Transponder that leverages a 3D-printed plastic structure to achieve low frequency sensitivity and a broadband response. By using a mechanical switching mechanism for transmission, Tacus has eliminated the use of traditional CMOS IC’s and achieved a zero-power sleep state. Tacus seeks to commercialize the technology in remote areas where there is no power readily available or in environments where replacing batteries for wireless nodes is too costly.
Entrepreneur Lead: Donald McCullough
Former Entrepreneurial Lead with the NYCRIN I-Corps Regional Cohort. Don graduated from the ILR School at Cornell University in 2015 and Wake Forest University School of Business in 2016 with a MA in Management. While at Wake Forest, he served as a graduate consultant for Cigna Healthcare and Vulcan Materials. Don was also a Student Ambassador, and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society.
Technical Lead: Sahil Gupta
Former Entrepreneurial Lead with NYCRIN I-Corps Region Cohort, Graduate Research Assistant with SonicMEMS Laboratory at Cornell, and Engineer for Boeing. Sahil received a Master of Engineering from Cornell, and placed first in the Hilton Head MEMS Shark-Pup Tank Entrepreneurship Competition. Publications include Vibration powered RF-Transponder for Sensing Low Frequency Motion Events.
In Phase I of the NEXUS-NY accelerator, each team will now work with world class mentors and industry experts to identify market opportunities for their clean energy technologies, including developing comprehensive business plans and conducting customer discovery.
We’re excited to continue assisting these entrepreneurs and scientists propel their amazing technologies forward. Join us by signing up for NEXUS-NY newsletters. We’ll release updates on the teams, and more details on events leading up to Demo Days in Rochester, NY and New York City.