Author: Kevin Davis
Well, that was an embarrassingly long break from blogging. Lets chalk it up to being bandwidth limited in 2017 and we'll do better in 2018. Hopefully folks are keeping up with our funding success via the news feed, but what’s missing are some insights into how the technology is advancing. So lets catch you all up by diving into the biggest news, our proof of concept pilot.
Rebound manufactures IcePoint®, the most flexible, efficient and economically optimized cooling equipment ever developed. The cooling product integrates with existing freezer systems at cold storage facilities and provides the control to deploy bursts of high capacity cooling, ideal for accelerating blast freezing (ie: freezing food faster) and mitigating peak energy expenses. No other cooling technology in the world offers this control and Rebound accomplishes it with a 35 percent efficiency gain. Facilities not only realize a boost in revenue from increased product throughput, but they also benefit from decreased energy expenses.
On January 15th the long-awaited IcePoint® system arrived on site in Oxnard, CA. Its a proof of concept pilot that provides 2.8 - 14 tons of refrigeration (TR) at -22F. It went live on February 6th and by March 31st commissioning was completed. Rebound is currently collecting data and working with Lineage to ensure the pilot meets the appropriate figures of merit.
The Primary Highlight
Rebound is currently operating the world’s first, closed loop, freeze point suppression cycle in a commercial environment. That’s a milestone six years in the making and one that should be celebrated! Think about it, there’s A) vapor compression, the dominant technology developed in the mid 19th century, B) absorption cycles, really only economically practical for air conditioning, invented around the same time period, and then C) IcePoint®, invented in 2012 and now currently being commercially validated by Rebound alongside our pilot partner, Lineage Logistics. So, I’ll just throw out some much deserved public acknowledgment of the hard work our technical team put in to make this a possibility. Well done and thanks for those long hours over the 2017 holidays!
The Primary Challenge
My hunch is Russell and his team will dive a little deeper into what kept them up at night in a follow up blog, but meanwhile, I’ll give you a higher level snapshot.
The primary challenge we’ve experienced is waste heat availability. As a reminder, our system provides bursts of cooling to freeze food faster. We then utilize the heat pulled out of the food products to drive our cycle. So, as you might imagine, when there aren’t many strawberries being frozen in Oxnard, we neither have the opportunity to provide much supplemental cooling nor have the heat to separate our refrigerant. Its tough to power a thermal separation process without a thermal input :-) The upside is that A) we have a kick ass engineering team that was able to re-design our controller to enable a more effective separation process under tough conditions, albeit at a slow pace and B) we learned a lot about the design limitations and subsequent complications that waste heat availability creates. In fact, due to this experience, we’re transitioning to a membrane-based separation design that provides similar efficiencies without a heat input. Had there been a constant flow of berries, we may not have been forced to revisit the design, which turns out to be a great business decision as it makes our technology easier to install and scale.
As for waste heat, its just about Mother’s Day, so according to frozen strawberry experts, loads will begin to arrive at the facility with tremendous frequency. By early June the facility will be overloaded, waste heat won’t be a topic of conversation and we’ll be hitting those figures of merit the Rebound and Lineage teams are anticipating.
While our team waits patiently for strawberries to see IcePoint® operating at 100% utilization, we are also designing the full-scale, production-ready system. We recently leased a 10,000 ft2 facility in Denver and hired a Director of Manufacturing in anticipation the next big step, the transition from R&D to production. We’ve also begun assessing IcePoint value at other facilities, freezing different products, by gathering data and producing techno-economic models. We’ve got big plans for 2019, and the results of this pilot unlock our ability to raise additional capital, deploy full-size systems and continue ramping up manufacturing and sales.