The First Look West (FLOW) 2017 Winners

Congratulations to our 2017 First Place winners Vescence!

First Place ($50,000): Vescence

The University of Houston’s Vescence has developed a patented water repellant coating minimizing contaminant buildup on solar panels that significantly improves electrical output while reducing maintenance costs. Dirty solar panels can lose up to 40% electrical output, necessitating laborious cleaning. Planned field tests on 40 solar panels at the University during summer 2017 are expected to confirm lab results showing a significant increase in energy output per panel and a reduction in the number of panel washes from four times a year to two.

Vescence technology exhibits other advantages that will be tested this summer. The sprayed-on layer is designed for durability with a multidentate structure where the molecules bind to the glass through multiple contact points. Along with durability, the 1-2nm layer is thinner than a strand of DNA strand, allowing solar panels to absorb maximum sun light.

Pending successful results, Vescence could start beta site installation on a large-scale solar farm in Aqaba, Jordan with partner Power Energy USA.

UCSD company founders and inventors Cyrus Rustomji and Jungwoo Lee celebrate winning Second Prize!

Second Place ($25,000): South 8 Technologies

South 8 Technologies, Inc. is exploiting a novel electrolyte chemistry for lithium batteries which could help eliminate a major bottle-neck to the next generation of these critical energy storage devices. The breakthrough chemistry, based on research conducted at the University of California, San Diego, utilizes gaseous solvents which form “liquefied gas electrolytes” with advantageous properties, when liquefied under mild pressure (comparable to the pressure of a car tire), They do not freeze at low temperatures, yielding high performance in cold climates – down to -60 C, (third-party validated by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The electrolytes are also highly chemically stable, allowing for higher voltages and increased energy density of batteries – as much as 65% improvement. The electrolyte itself is non-toxic, safe and fully compatible with conventional battery materials and standard manufacturing processes. This could help rapid penetration of markets with a low-cost solution.

The team will first tackle the aerospace and high-atmosphere industries as well as start-stop vehicles, all markets with growing low-temperature requirements. The team anticipates having a prototype line ready for testing with customers as early as 2019.

ANSYS company reps congratulate Teratonix Team Leader Ivan Pistsov on winning the ANSYS sponsored prize!

Transformational Idea Award ($5,000): Teratonix

Teratonix’s innovation captures radio waves in the atmosphere as potential energy sources for powering a variety of devices. Harvesting “ambient energy”, readily available in an urban environment offers the prospect of eliminating battery waste, and reducing lifetime maintenance expenses for wireless devices by a factor of ten. Teratonix’s patented technology, developed at Carnegie Mellon, could replace coin-sized batteries and AAA batteries in RFID applications, smart meters, sensors and beacons.

The Teratonix energy harvesting device exploits the high zero-bias frequency of the proprietary MSM diodes, developed in Carnegie Mellon, making possible collection and conversion of a broad spectrum of relatively weak ambient RF-radiation (in a range of 100MHz to 10GHz), such as wifi, cell, Radio, and TV broadcasting into useful DC power. The Teratonix RF-energy harvester, coupled with an antenna of a size 10x10 cm will be able to provide 25 µW of continuous electric power in a typical urban environment. This energy can either be supplied directly or stored in an embedded capacitor to provide power for a device that operates periodically.

The team anticipates having a demonstration prototype completed by summer 2017 for demonstration with IOT partners such as Walmart, Phillips Lighting and SigFox.