Resnick Institute


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Rocket Fund 2017 Awards Target Energy Storage, Solar Power, and Home Energy and Water Efficiency

PASADENA, CA – January 2018

The Resnick Institute’s FLOW Rocket Fund 2017 grants accelerated the commercial development of innovations in solar power, battery technology, and water leakage monitoring and mobile apps for tracking energy use.

Partnered by the ETCC consortium of California utilities and San Diego based Moxie Foundation, the Rocket Fund provides vital funding for building the first 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 team can refine products that customers will want, and build a successful company.

The 2017 award recipients are:

  • Chai Energy offers a mobile app for tracking energy consumption in real time, appliance by appliance, to help eliminate energy waste and save customers over 20% on their electricity bills. 40,000 Californians use the Chai mobile app today. Chai is using the Rocket Fund grant to develop a “bolt on” product that will serve as the interface homeowners need to understand and manage their home energy usage, their distributed energy resources, and their connection to the electric grid.

  • ETC Solar, LLC's innovative Caltech engineering replaces the flat metallic front contact lines that are standard on today’s solar panels with Effectively Transparent Contacts (ETCs). ETCs are triangular micro-scale metal contacts that redirect incident light to the active area of the solar cell. ETCs overcome shading losses without reducing the sheet conductivity. Replacing the standard flat contact electrodes on solar cells will boost the power output of commercial solar power plants by 5%. This breakthrough technology is compatible with most of the solar cell devices already available today, and can be readily manufactured by scalable fabrication printing method –a plus for module manufacturers and solar equipment makers. ETC Solar’s Rocket Fund grant will design and construct the first commercial prototype for testing with customers.

  • Flume, Inc. has developed a simple-to-install leak detection and water management tool that monitors every drop of water entering a home. The Flume™ Water Sensor monitors the plumbing system 24/7, providing real time usage data and enabling the homeowner to manage their consumption. Intelligent Flume™ software detects and identifies abnormal water usage, sending notifications immediately when an issue is detected, and connecting to qualified service providers to fix the leak that can go unnoticed for weeks. This is a $9B problem that insurance companies are experiencing every year due to water damage. A Rocket Fund grant will enable the company to build and start testing their device with potential insurance customers.

  • Membrion, Inc. has created a ceramic nanoporous membrane that can selectively filter molecules in harsh environments. The membranes can be manufactured roll-to-roll at room temperature which enables a 10 - 50X cost reduction in comparison to competitors. In the company’s entry market of flow batteries, this translates to a 230% reduction in size, and 15% savings on the total battery cost. Membrion plans to build a commercially viable membrane that has been distributed to customers and partners for external validation.

  • South 8 Technologies is completing the prototype for a next-generation battery device. South 8 uses a patented liquefied gas electrolyte which demonstrates a 60% increase in energy density, improved low temperature operation to -60 C and provides strong mitigation of thermal runaway for improved safety. Initial markets will target operations in extreme temperatures, but the future lies in powering electric vehicles and grid storage.