Rocket Fund 2018 Awards Target Clean Hydrogen, Energy Storage, Gas Sensing and Solar
PASADENA, CA – January 2019
In 2018, the Resnick Institute’s Rocket Fund made five grants to new ventures developing innovations in two categories: energy management and sustainability. This cohort is the fourth funded by a program that helps young companies validate their technologies, and secure investment for their company and partners for their products.
Partnered by the ETCC consortium of California utilities and San Diego based Moxie Foundation, the Rocket Fund provides vital funding for building commercial prototypes necessary for field testing technology and securing potential customers. The Rocket Fund awarded grants of up to $75,000 to build demonstration units. Working with guidance from potential buyers, the teams further refine their products.
The 2018 award recipients are:
- Antora Energy is developing inexpensive, long-duration energy storage to enable the widespread deployment of renewable energy innovations. Currently, the variability of power output from solar or wind installations impacts electricity pricing in ways that challenge the foundation of renewable businesses. Antora Energy aims to store over 100 hours of power in an inexpensive thermal photovoltaic system utilizing carbon derived from a coke byproduct of the petroleum industry as the core storage material. Antora will use the Rocket Fund grant to build its first demonstration unit in Alaska.
- Brimstone Energy is a Caltech startup developing a cost-effective process for converting waste sulfur into two important commodities: “green” hydrogen and sulfuric acid. Global hydrogen production is a major source of carbon dioxide pollution. Brimstone’s goal is eventually to replace conventional processes with a cost effective and clean electrochemical system that yields both hydrogen for a variety of uses, including fueling vehicles, and sulfuric acid wherever it is needed. Brimstone will use Rocket Fund money to deploy its first unit on a California farm, with the goal of providing the growers with a source of sulfuric acid routinely used to acidify soils.
- ETC Solar, LLC has developed a novel solar cell architecture where the conventional flat metal contacts are replaced by triangular constructs that expose more cell surface to electricity-generating light. This engineering development boosts solar panel efficiency by an impressive 5% in testing. When paired with a proprietary printing tool, ETC’s cells will lower manufacturing costs. This is attracting solar cell producers who must increase output and reduce production costs in order to stay competitive. ETC will begin testing their Rocket Funded prototype with III-V and then thin film cell manufacturers while aiming for larger markets in specialty glass manufacture and wireless communications.
- Fullmoon Sensors, Inc. is innovating an AI powered network of nodes and sensors for detecting methane leaks at commercial and residential gas meters. New environmental regulations mandate continuous monitoring of methane emissions which is now ineffectually done over large areas with current systems. The company has designed a large scale network that will meet the requirement for sensors with the ability to detect, differentiate, and quantify gases at low cost and low power. Rocket Fund money will help the company complete the design and installation of the company’s first test system with a number of partners including Pacific Gas & Electric.
- SkyCool Systems, Inc.’s patented optical panels cool through radiative heat transfer, where heat producing infrared light from the sun is reflected back into space thus cooling the panels when exposed to the sky. Arranged in arrays on building rooftops, SkyCool panels can save electricity as an add-on solution for conventional cold water systems that does not consume water and uses minimal electricity. The Rocket Fund grant will spur testing with initial customers - owners and operators of convenience stores and supermarkets - where nearly 60% of the utility charge is run up by cooling and refrigeration, and where they face very low profit margins.