Phase I of the National Science Foundation project wrapped up in January. Phase II is still an idea in a document, patiently awaiting the NSF’s green light. What’s a startup to do for six months without funding to build newer and better freeze point suppression cycles? Build an MVP of course. Don't know what an MVP is or wondering how on earth a physical tech company developing a brand new refrigeration system did it? Read on!
In my last post, I alluded to some fun (read: bang-my-head-against-the-wall) work leading up to the switch from membrane distillation (MD) with salt brines to simple column distillation with ethanol. That process led to lots of technical discovery worth sharing here.
I can be fairly critical of accelerator programs, but after 12 days in Honolulu I’m happy to report that the Energy Excelerator is doing it right. They pulled off well coordinated, well-executed activities that helped us better understand the Hawaiian energy community and how each of our companies may fit. Furthermore, they did an excellent job of planning social events that brought the cohort closer as a group. It was a high-paced week!
Greetings from the newest new guy! It’s been a busy 2014 as we progress toward a close-looped prototype and the physical realization of what has only been heretofore a model on a computer screen. For me personally, it’s been a plunge into the depths as I continually learn about the intricacies--and originality--of SunChill™’s design as well as the system’s current and future challenges. There was also that pair of 15-plus-hour flights to Mozambique to mull it all over. Here are some highlights from the depths, 2014!
IcePoint™ runs! The year ended on a high note as Rebound ran the first closed loop, freeze point suppression heat pump in existence. That might not mean much to you readers, but believe me, it means the world to the Rebound team. It's what we’ve been striving for since we thought of the concept back in early 2012. Read on to see how we did it!
This summer Russell and I took our first trip to Mozambique as part of our SunChill™ project sponsored by Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development. This was the first of two trips the Rebound team is taking to prepare for the final demonstration phase in Mozambique. Additionally, it was our first experience traveling to sub-Saharan Africa. The trip didn’t disappoint.
SunChill™ is an off-grid technology that pre-cools horticultural products from harvest temperatures (25C) to storage temperatures (10C). However, people are often asking us why SunChill™ instead of conventional cold storage rooms adapted for off-grid application. The primary response is that pre-cooling products to storage temperatures enables the implementation of inexpensive cold storage by reducing necessary equipment size and electrical needs.
The summer of 2014 has been a time of growth for the SunChill™ team. We added our first Grad Student, Sean Ryan, and hired our first full time SunChill™ employee, Jack Darrah. Additionally, we started our formal work with the Fraunhofer membrane distillation team in Freiburg, Germany. Originally we envisioned Sean and Jack needing a longer adjustment period to get up to speed, but are fired up to see results pouring in fast.
And just like that, Phase I of the IcePoint™ NSF project is complete! Well, perhaps time has slowly dragging by for those of you hoping for new blog posts, but it flew by for us. Since we last touched base with you, the project rapidly developed from a warehouse with little more than potential into an operational prototype system.
Freiburg is a town rife with history and culture, according to Wikipedia. Everything I know about the German town I learned by walking to and from the Fraunhofer Institute each day over the course of a week. Needless to say, the 15 minute walk didn't provide the best german emersion experience. That said, here is what I did learn: Boulder is not the only town where most people commute by bike, most Germans are simultaneously completely fluent in and apologetic about their English, and it is possible to pack a months worth of membrane testing into a week long trip.