10 New Clean Energy Innovations in Upstate NY | NEXUS-NY
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10 New Clean Energy Innovations in Upstate NY

10 New Clean Energy Innovations in Upstate NY

NEXUS-NY kicks off another year of supporting New York-based clean energy innovations

Fundamental research is one critical precursor to the commercialization of disruptive innovations. At any one time, hundreds of university scientists are pursuing cutting-edge energy research across New York State. NEXUS-NY engages a subset of those who are willing to invest their time and effort to explore various commercial pathways for their research-derived innovations, helping them select the best path and stay on track. Aspiring entrepreneurs in the clean energy space face many hurdles; to overcome them, they need to quickly and astutely acquire financial resources, human capital and partners.

NEXUS-NY is a clean energy proof-of-concept with the mission to help New York researchers create scalable, clean energy companies. Funded by NYSERDA and operated by NextCorps, NEXUS-NY provides up to $75,000 in equity-free financial support. Each team participates in an intense, 12-week experiential curriculum utilizing the Lean Startup Methodology, which includes mentorship, prototype support and connections to industry participants.

Since 2014, NEXUS-NY has assisted dozens of early-stage companies across New York. Among its graduates, about a dozen have raised nearly $35M in follow-on funding, and seven have achieved initial product sales.

“We’re excited to begin working with this new group of scientists,” said Doug Buerkle, Executive Director, NEXUS-NY. “We have a diverse set of technologies and broad university participation, including from Clarkson, Cornell, SUNY and the University of Rochester.”

10 New Clean Energy Innovations

This fall, NEXUS-NY received over 50 applications for cohort 5 of its clean energy accelerator. An independent panel of judges selected ten participants to start the program. These teams will compete for roughly five spots in Phase 2, making them eligible for up to $65,000 in additional funding.

AlchLight (University of Rochester)

Super-Wicking Material for Efficient Evaporative Technology-based Air Conditioners (SWEET-AC). SWEET-ACs are water-wicking, heat-exchanging media designed for use in indirect evaporative cooling (IEC) systems, which are low-energy, emission free alternatives to traditional vapor compression-based air conditioning and refrigeration. SWEET-AC is created by functionalizing the surface of polymers with a novel and patented femtosecond laser surface texturing/patterning technology. In 2017, AlchLight was awarded a $250,000 STTR Phase I grant.

Chunlei Guo
Technical Lead

Chunlei is a professor in The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester and president/founder of AlchLight. His research is in the area of femtosecond laser-matter interactions at high intensities, which has led to discoveries of the so-called Black and Colored Metals, covered extensively by the media. Professor Guo is an elected Fellow for both American Physical Society and Optical Society of America. He has authored well over 100 refereed journal articles, and has been playing an active role in serving the scientific community.

Kai Davies
Entrepreneurial Lead

Kai is an assistant to Professor Chunlei Guo at the High-Intensity Femtosecond Laser Laboratory at the University of Rochester. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from SUNY Geneseo.


BingCap (Binghamton University)

Thin film dielectric capacitors with energy storage capability higher than the current commercial tantalum capacitor. The dielectric material used is a complex oxide with a very high dielectric constant. These capacitors will be high performance, low leakage, low footprint, safe operation, and highly durable.

Tara P. Dhakal
Technical Lead

Tara is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton University, as well as an Interim Director for the Center of Autonomous Solar Power (CASP center). His research interests include thin film solar cells, supercapacitors, and semiconductor devices. Recently he received the prestigious NSF career award to investigate the stability of perovskite thin film solar cells. He graduated with a PhD in Physics from the University of Florida. He has published two book chapters and more than 50 research papers in journals such as Nature Physics, Physical Review Letters, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, and IEEE transactions on materials and device reliability.

Ganesh Gudavalli
Entrepreneurial Lead

Ganesh is a PhD candidate in the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton University. Ganesh’s research focus has been on energy storage using nanostructure electrodes such as carbon nanotubes. He has assisted Quansor Corporation in building a switching circuit that utilized a quartz crystal to monitor the water-borne contaminants with 1 ppb accuracy. In 2014, Ganesh received the Sodexo Scholarship for Academic Excellence.

Capro-X (Cornell University)

A fermentation bioprocess – called the carboxylate platform – converts organic molecules in a variety of dairy industry byproducts into bio-oil. Our bioprocess employs a community of microbes (microbiome) which can convert Greek yogurt acid whey waste into medium chain fatty acids – a platform chemical that we call bio-oil.

Juan Guzman
Technical Lead

Dr. Guzman holds a PhD in Biological and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University where he specialized in designing systems using microbes to convert industrial waste into useful products. He is a former Cornell Commercialization Fellow and Entrepreneurial Lead for an NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) team. Prior to Cornell, Juan worked for a number of years in startups developing renewable systems producing energy from wastewater.

Rob Mueller
Entrepreneurial Lead

Rob is currently pursuing an MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell. Concurrently, he is a Venture Associate with Big Red Ventures in Ithaca, NY, Cornell’s MBA-run venture fund. Prior to NEXUS, he was a business consultant for Big Red Tech Strategy where he collaborated with Dr. Guzman to commercialize his clean energy technology. Prior to business school, Rob was an Analyst at the growth equity firm Element Partners. He is also the founder of political debate website, PolitiClout.

Grover (Cornell University)

Novel structural component design, able to carry structural loads with higher reliance, less material usage, and reduced labor. Using steel, or other strip-based materials, strips are woven to produce structural elements, which are extremely efficient in terms of material use, and very low energy in regards to fabrication. Watch video ->

Martin Miller
Technical Lead

Martin is the creative design director and founding partner at AntiStatics Architecture. He is also a visiting professor at Cornell University. Martin comes from a diverse background with training in architecture, art, science and mathematics. He received his BFA in Sculpture from the University of Colorado with a minor in Mathematics, and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. His areas of expertise lie in parametric modeling, complex form rationalization and digital fabrication; especially in robotics and interactive design. Martin has been teaching his course based on integrative building façade and social space. Before founding AntiStatics with Mo Zheng, Martin was the lead designer and project manager for Jenny Sabin Studio. His professional work including Nike Flyknit pavilion in New York and Berlin with Jenny Sabin, Plaited Tectonics received a 2nd place in Pier 9 “the future of making things” competition, Hiten show theater upgrade at Lijiang is currently in performance. He collaborates with Caroline O’Donnell in OMG.

Caroline O’Donnell
Entrepreneurial Lead

Caroline is the Edgar A. Tafel Associate Professor and Director of the M.Arch program at Cornell University. She is the principal of the design practice CODA, and the winner of MoMA/PS1’s Young Architects’ Program in 2013 with the project Party Wall.  Caroline is also the editor of the Cornell Journal of Architecture and former founding editor of Pidginmagazine. Her first book, Niche Tactics: Generative Relationships between Architecture and Site, was published in April 2015. She collaborates with Martin Miller in OMG.

Potsdam Sensors (Clarkson University)

A novel particulate sensor that can be integrated with high energy-consuming devices such as HVAC systems or energy-production systems such as gas-turbines to optimize their performance. Potsdam Sensors has received several grants and awards including $225,000 in (NSF) STTR Stage 1 funding, and $50,000 from the NYS FuzeHub Competition.

Suresh Dhaniyala
Technical Lead

Suresh is the CTO for Potsdam Sensors and the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson University. His research in aerosol sensors, air quality and aerosol physics has received over $5 million in funding from several federal and state agencies including: NSF, DTRA, NASA, NCAR, and NYSERDA. Suresh has published 3 book chapters, over 50 peer-reviewed publications, and holds 4 patents related to aerosol sensing and sizing. He has received several teaching and research awards including NSF’s CAREER award and Clarkson’s John W. Graham award.

Tyler Bershad
Technical Co-Lead

Tyler is the Chief Product Engineer for Potsdam Sensors and Cofounder of BlaqTech Corp. Prior to this, he won first place in the Intel Hackathon for #TheWheezer, a medical device that measures lung performance by monitoring exhalation flow rate. Tyler is an experienced entrepreneur, successfully acquiring funding for his kickstarter project Lumin8 Pro in 2014. Tyler received his B.S degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University in 2016.

R Vijayakumar
Entrepreneurial Lead

Vijayakumar is Head, Business Development at Potsdam Sensors, and is the founder and head of AERFIL, a consulting company devoted to providing technical and business solutions and services for the IAQ, filtration and contamination control industry. With over 30 years technical and marketing experience in senior executive positions in the industry, he is an advisor to several start-ups in his field. He is an advisor to NASA for air filtration systems for space habitats. He has several patents and has authored numerous technical papers as well as an eBook on aerosol science.

RemWell (Clarkson University)

In order to address recent statements of need from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) regarding remediation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) that have contaminated groundwater aquifers, an in situ in-line reactor for use with a horizontal reactive well (HRX) is proposed.

Michelle Crimi
Technical Lead

Michelle is the Director of Engineering and Management, and a Professor at Clarkson University. Her areas of research include the development of in situ remediation technologies. Michelle was awarded a Research Excellence Award, and she holds a patent in Method and Composition for the Treatment of Subsurface Contaminants. View her many publications, grants and technical reports.

Fiona Laramay
Entrepreneurial Lead

Fiona is a PhD student in Environmental Science and Engineering at Clarkson University. She was previously an Undergraduate Research Assistant Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science at Clarkson University, where she obtained her BS in Biomolecular Science in 2014.


Solid Cell (Rochester, NY)

Clean energy company focused on recovery of “waste cold” in the form of carbon neutral electricity through its solid state “iTEG-HX” thermoelectric generator. The iTEG-HX is integrated directly into a standard vaporizer for gasification of LNG or other cryogenically stored gases such as ethane, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. This is a groundbreaking approach to converting a waste stream into a valuable resource.   

Yuriy Lobunets
Technical Lead

Yuriy is Research Director at Solid Cell and inventor of the patent-pending iTEG-HX technology. He is an internationally renowned expert in thermoelectric energy conversion, and a member of the prestigious International Thermoelectric Academy. Yuriy holds multiple doctoral degrees and has authored 4 books in his field.


Ilya Abdurakhamanov
Technical Co-Lead

Ilya is an aviation and aerospace professional who works with companies to help turn ideas into reality. As the Design Engineer for Solid Cell Inc., Ilya handles product design, 3D modeling and prototype development. He received his education from Alfred University, and he’s a U.S. Navy Certified Helicopter Jet Engine Mechanic.

Arkady Malakhov
Entrepreneurial Lead

Arkady is the Founder and CEO of Solid Cell, working on development, design and manufacture of innovative clean energy products based on advanced thermoelectric, fuel cell, catalytic and low-emission combustion technologies. He is also the co-founder and Managing Director of NOVOROCS Technologies, a company focused on developing catalysts for alternative energy applications.  Prior, he held senior management roles with fuel cell manufacturers Cenergie Corporation and Zetek Power Plc. He received an MIA from Columbia University.

Standard Hydrogen (SHC) (Ithaca, NY)

SHC envisions a future where zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) rule the roads, and carbon-free power fills the grid. A key enabler is their unique, integrated system and controls platform for distributed-scale hydrogen energy storage and ZEV charging and refueling. Our system is comprised primarily of: an electrolyzer, gaseous hydrogen storage, and a fuel cell. SHC is developing intellectual property around integration of these components, including their interconnection with the grid and/or microgrid (e.g., solar PV, wind, etc.), and around the controls algorithms that maximize efficiency and revenue generation of system operations.

Paul Mutolo
Technical Lead

Paul is the Director of External Partnerships at Cornell’s Energy Materials Center. He is also Director of Industrial Outreach for PARADIM the Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis and Discovery of Interface Materials at Cornell University.  He is a founding board member of NY-BEST.  Paul received a PhD in Inorganic and Solid State Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Bill Dailey
Entrepreneurial Lead

Bill is a Principal at the Law Office of William Dailey, where he is focused on energy technology and new / emerging businesses. He has extensive experience in licensing, transactional law, complex negotiations and intellectual property. He holds a JD from Albany Law School, and an MBA from RPI’s Lally School of Management.

Together, Paul and Bill hold a patent for Apparatus and Methods for Generating Water In a Fuel Cell System. SHC is building collaborations with the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT and NREL to accelerate their technology development.

Verdimine, LLC (SUNY Geneseo)

Specialty green chemical company focused on the sustainable production of aryl aldimines that have high-value commercial applications in industries including pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, plastics manufacturing, and OLEDs. Our key technology is a patented process for synthesizing imines using a renewable, biodegradable solvent while also optimizing reaction parameters such as speed and temperature. In contrast, conventional methods often use toxic petroleum-derived solvents that are harmful to workers and the environment, especially due to emission of fumes at the boiling temperatures commonly used.

Dr. Eric Helms
Technical Lead

Dr. Eric Helms is Chief Technical Officer at Verdimine, LLC. Eric is a professor of Chemistry at SUNY Geneseo, where he won the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. He has a PhD from the University of Texas. Among his several publications include Molecular Modeling of the Electrophilic Addition Reaction with ‘Unexpected’ Regiochemistry.

Dr. Jacqueline Bennett
Technical Co-Lead

Dr. Jacqueline Bennett is Chief Scientific Officer at Verdimine, LLC and the inventor of the technology. Dr. Bennett is a professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at SUNY Oneonta. She was recognized by the Eastern New York Intellectual Property Law Association (2016) and the American Chemical Society Committee on Environmental Improvement (2011) for her work in green imine synthesis. She has a PhD from University of California-Riverside.

Caroline Wilson
Entrepreneurial Lead

Caroline is the Director of Business Development and Marketing at Verdimine. She graduated with a B.A. in Communication with Minors in Biology and Sociology from SUNY Geneseo. She has gained experience in small business development and marketing while working with the Livingston County Economic Development Corporation.

Vistex Composites (RPI)

Leveraging technology invented while at RPI, the Vistex team is auditing Phase 1 of NEXUS-NY. Vistex developed and is commercializing its patented Pressure Focusing Layer™ (PFL™) manufacturing process. The PFL™ technology replaces the industry standard manufacturing process, the autoclave, for the manufacture of nearly any advanced thermoset or thermoplastic composite (e.g. carbon fiber and epoxy). It drastically reduces energy consumption and capital and operating expenses while improving throughput. The PFL™ process also reduces manufacturing waste while providing equivalent strength, dimensional tolerances and aesthetics when compared to the same autoclave cured products.

Jaron Kuppers
Technical Lead

Jaron is the Cofounder and CTO of Vistex Composites, a manufacturing innovation company specializing in advanced thermoset and thermoplastic composites. Prior, he held design and research positions with Kintz Plastics and Sandia National Laboratories. Jaron holds a MS / PhD in Mechanical Engineering from RPI.

Casey Hoffman
Entrepreneurial Lead

Casey is the Cofounder of Vistex Composites, and an Adjunct Faculty member at RPI. Prior, Casey was a NSF IGERT Fellow with the Center for Automation Technologies & Systems at RPI, where he holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Fuel Cell Electrode Manufacturing). Among his many awards include RPI’s Founder Award for Excellence.

Interested in learning more?

Teams are considered for acceptance to NEXUS-NY on an annual basis. Applications open each Fall. Sign up for NEXUS-NY newsletters to stay updated on team progress, important dates and industry news. https://nexus-ny.org/contact

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