In June, 2020 the Rocket Fund Review Panel of over 20 representatives from Caltech, Rocket Fund members and partners, and investors awarded grants to seven entrepreneurial ventures pioneering advances in cleantech and sustainability. The awardees featured innovations with broad impact in chemical manufacturing, building structures, energy storage and management, and greenhouse gas mitigation. The winners emerged from a record number of over 140 applicants. This year's recipients are:
Aralez Bio. Co-Founded by former Resnick Sustainability Institute Fellow Tina Boville, Aralez uses directed evolution—the technique for which Aralez co-founder Frances Arnold was awarded the Nobel Prize - as a foundation for providing an efficient, sustainable alternative to chemical manufacturing. Aralez's process engineers novel enzymes that can make over 100 different amino acid building blocks from readily available precursors while releasing water as the only byproduct. The company estimates that its technology produces 100-times less waste and consumes 35% less energy when compared to traditional chemical synthesis.
Cypris Materials, Inc. co-founded by former Resnick Sustainability Institute Fellow Raymond Weitekamp, Cypris leverages patented polymer technology to enable rapid self-assembly of molecules into highly ordered nanostructures to create paintable, reflective coatings that can be applied to variety of surfaces including metals, woods, glass, fabrics, plastics, ceramics, and asphalt. These structural color coatings can be formulated to yield visually-transparent yet highly reflective structures in minutes under ambient conditions. Application of these coatings to steep slope roofs could unlock Energy Star ratings with minimal aesthetic impact.
e-Zn Inc.: is developing energy storage technology in the form of electrochemical cells that "metallize energy" – store energy in physically free zinc metal, a significantly less expensive option compared to current established technologies such as lithium-ion. Other advantages include delivering energy for multiple days; providing fire resistance; and being completely recyclable/reusable.
Nitricity, Inc. manufactures nitrogen fertilizer on-farm using just air, water, and renewable electricity. In contrast to the traditional Haber-Bosch process at the core of fertilizer manufacturing, the technology can produce nitrogen fertilizer without natural gas, and does so with a low-capital cost system that can be turned on and off almost instantaneously to take advantage of intermittent electricity.
Troposphere Monitoring, Inc. aims to enable natural gas producers and landfill companies to quickly, affordably, and remotely reduce methane emissions with its real-time hydrocarbon sensor technology. The sensor combines a field-ready, low-cost spectrophotometer with an anemometer, case, and electronics suitable for off-grid deployment.
Xeal is developing PRISM, a proprietary electric vehicle charging technology that offers multi-unit residential and commercial tenants comprehensive information on charging speeds and times through a single aggregated calendar, mapped across multiple factors: the building's constraints, grid's requests, the available charging stations, the fleet designated to the site, and operator requests for charging. This advance could unlock more EV participation by these groups through efficient charge sharing.
Yotta Energy has developed PV-Coupled™ architecture, an energy storage solution designed for multi-scaled rooftop solar PV installations. At about the size of a briefcase, Yotta's patented technology fits under any industry standard solar module and has achieved the UL certified safety standard that helps validate the technology as one of the safest energy storage options available for urban environments. Deployed in California Yotta's technology could provide grid resilience and reliability in areas prone to power outages from wildfires.