Sopogy /blog Sopogy News, Awards, Updates and Press Releases Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:10:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Sopogy presents at Intersolar 2013 /blog/2013/07/12/sopogy-presents-at-intersolar-2013/ /blog/2013/07/12/sopogy-presents-at-intersolar-2013/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:10:35 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1075 Sopogy founder Darren T. Kimura presents MicroCSP technologies at Intersolar 2013.

Solar thermal power plants are designed to deliver dispatchable power through storage (molten salt) or hybrid operation, thus enabling a higher total share of intermittent renewable energies in a future energy mix. However, significant cost reductions experienced by conventional crystalline wafer-based technologies have challenged the financial viability and commercial attractiveness of CSP projects worldwide. According to an analysis conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) CSP may have a share of about 12% of global power supply by 2050. In this session speakers will present the current and future technological trends of CSP applications, as well results and experienced gained through long-term operation and maintenance of CSP projects around the world. In addition, an overview will be given about the current status of market developments across various regions of the globe.

Intersolar 2013 Darren Kimura

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Sopogy granted new patent for proprietary solar thermal concentrators /blog/2013/06/06/sopogy-granted-new-patent-for-proprietary-solar-thermal-concentrators/ /blog/2013/06/06/sopogy-granted-new-patent-for-proprietary-solar-thermal-concentrators/#comments Thu, 06 Jun 2013 23:21:25 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1068 Patent brings additional defensibility to Sopogy’s MicroCSP technology platform

Belmont, CA. — June 5, 2013 – Sopogy, Inc., a concentrating solar thermal technology company, today announced that it has been granted a new patent for its MicroCSP concentrating solar technology.  Patent invention number 8443795 covers the “Use of brackets and rails in concentrating solar energy collectors.”

“This latest patent enables our technologies to be quickly and efficiently manufactured and installed ” said David Fernandez, President and COO of Sopogy, Inc. “This helps Sopogy maintain our best-in-class edge, brings unique energy solutions to our clients and gives us a significant advantage in the industry.”

The patent covers Sopogy’s MicroCSP solar collector frame and assembly methods.  This enables the manufacturing of the solar collector in parts and assembly to be conducted by local, on-site labor.  In addition the patents covers structural stability of the collector, installation methods, assembly of a Sopogy’s collectors in row and other configurations, and storm protection.

Darren T. Kimura, Sopogy founder and co-inventor of patent 8443795 said, “Our vision has been to create unique solar thermal products that address significant but underserved energy problems.  This patent helps validate our products and demonstrates Sopogy’s continued leadership in the Concentrating Solar Thermal industry”

View Patent Filing: http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week21/OG/html/1390-3/US08443795-20130521.html

About Sopogy

Sopogy revolutionized solar thermal technology with MicroCSP. Developing modular collectors about one-third the size of a traditional concentrated solar thermal mirror, Sopogy cut the cost of solar thermal energy to a fraction of the cost.  Proprietary storage units stabilize volatile energy production when cloudy and prolong production after sunset. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable process heat and air conditioning, and other uses.  For more information on Sopogy’s “clean steam” solar technology please visit www.sopogy.org.

[Website post and select distribution only]

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Sopogy Strengthens Execution Capabilities /blog/2013/03/19/sopogy-strengthens-execution-capabilities/ /blog/2013/03/19/sopogy-strengthens-execution-capabilities/#comments Tue, 19 Mar 2013 07:56:32 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1056 Management changes are focused on rapid commercialization of solar steam and process heat markets.

Belmont, CA. — March 19, 2013 – Sopogy, Inc., a concentrating solar thermal technology company, today announced that it has appointed David Fernandez as its President and Chief Operating Officer to strengthen its execution capabilities. Furthermore, the company has appointed Darren T. Kimura as Chief Global Strategist and Chief Marketing Officer.

David Fernandez will assume responsibilities for day to day activities and report to the Board of Directors. Before joining Sopogy, Mr. Fernandez was the Vice President of North American Operations at SunEdison, one of the largest solar companies in the world. Prior to joining SunEdison, he was the Senior VP of Operations for FRV, Inc. (Fotowatio Renewable Ventures), a leading global operator in photovoltaic and thermosolar energy plants. He previously served as COO with GES USA (Global Energy Services) where he worked on wind and solar renewable energy projects. Mr. Fernandez has an MBA from Instituto de Empresa, a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a BA from Western Michigan University also in Aeronautical Engineering.

“We are very pleased to have Mr. Fernandez join Sopogy as President and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Fernandez will strengthen Sopogy’s core business. It is important that we take that step forward to achieve the great potential in our business,” said Taro Inaba, member of the Board of Directors.

“Sopogy has an exciting technology platform and I’m honored to join the team. My strong background in engineering and operations will help improve our products and the customer experience,” said David Fernandez.

Mr. Kimura, Sopogy’s founder and previously Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President, will now be responsible for the company’s domestic and international expansion and will oversee marketing efforts.

“Darren is a world class entrepreneur. His success in raising capital, building teams and leading the company in its growth is second to none. Sopogy now needs Darren to lead us in global marketing. This role takes advantage of his skills and creates value for all shareholders. I’m confident he will take us to new heights,” said Carlos Domenech, member of the Board of Directors.

“At this stage in our growth, serving as the Company’s Chief Global Strategist and Chief Marketing Officer will enable me to develop our brand and drive our sales and commercialization efforts forward,” said Darren T. Kimura.

All appointments are effective immediately.

About Sopogy
Sopogy revolutionized solar thermal technology with MicroCSP. Developing modular collectors about one-third the size of a traditional concentrated solar power mirror, Sopogy cut the cost of solar thermal energy to a fraction of the cost. Proprietary storage units stabilize volatile energy production when cloudy and prolong production after sunset. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable process heat, air conditioning, and power generation. For more information please visit www.sopogy.org.

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Venture capitalists honor Sopogy founder, others /blog/2013/01/25/venture-capitalists-honor-sopogy-founder-others/ /blog/2013/01/25/venture-capitalists-honor-sopogy-founder-others/#comments Sat, 26 Jan 2013 03:35:54 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1046 By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 25, 2013

The Hawaii Venture Capital Association on Thursday presented its 2012 “Deal of the Year” award to Darren Kimura, the founder and CEO of a Honolulu-based company that pioneered the concept of micro-concentrated solar power systems.

Kimura’s Sopogy Inc. has deployed its technology at facilities in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Mexico and Papua New Guinea. The company’s MicroCSP systems use mirrored troughs to generate heat that can be used in a wide array of applications, including power generation and air conditioning.

HVCA also presented awards to local entrepreneurs in a variety of other categories at its annual luncheon.

The Young Entrepreneur award went to Scott Mercer of Volta Industries, a company that makes vehicle charging stations used by many shopping malls on Oahu. Volta uses an advertising-based model that allows it to provide electricity from its charging stations for free.

Dan Leuck, CEO and founder of Ikayzo, won the Software Entrepreneur award. Ikayzo is a software development and interactive design firm servicing customers such as Bank of America, Nomura Securities, PIMCO, Sony and Oracle.

Ken Berkun, founder of Labels That Talk, won the Inventor Entrepreneur award. Berkun’s invention, Soundpaper, lets users record sound on everything from labels to greeting cards.

Winner of the Socially Responsible Entrepreneur award was Elyse Petersen, founder of Tealet, a social enterprise that connects tea drinkers with small tea growers around the world.

David Watamull, co-founder of Cardax Pharmaceuticals and former CEO of Hawaii Biotech, received the Legacy Entrepreneur award. Wata-mull has raised more than $12 million for Cardax since 2006, and he has been awarded 24 patents.

 

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Sopogy Receives 2012 Hawaii Venture Capital Association Deal of the Year Award /blog/2013/01/25/sopogy-receives-2012-hawaii-venture-capital-association-deal-of-the-year-award/ /blog/2013/01/25/sopogy-receives-2012-hawaii-venture-capital-association-deal-of-the-year-award/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:26:24 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1049 HVCA logo

The Hawaii Venture Capital Association awarded its 2012 HVCA Deal of the Year to Darren Kimura, CEO of Sopogy, maker of concentrated thermal solar collectors. In addition five local entrepreneurs were acknowledged in various categories with the HVCA Entrepreneur of the Year award. The Young Entrepreneur award went to Scott Mercer of Volta Industries, makers of advertising driven free electric vehicle charging stations. Dan Leuck, co-founder of CONTIX and CEO and founder of Ikayzo won the Software Entrepreneur award. Ken Berkun, founder of Labels That Talk won the Inventor Entrepreneur award for his patented invention, Soundpaper. Winner of the Socially Responsible Entrepreneur of the Year award is Elyse Petersen, founder of Tealet, a social enterprise that connects tea drinkers with small tea growers around the world. David Watumull, co-founder of CARDAX Pharmaceuticals and former CEO of Hawaii Biotech was acknowledged for his many years of devoted entrepreneurship in biotech as the 2012 Legacy Entrepreneur.

“These entrepreneurs are local heroes and role models. They have worked long hard days, made personal sacrifices and taken extreme risks that prove there are people in Hawaii that have what it takes to build great companies,” said Bill Spencer, President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association. The Hawaii Venture Capital Association was founded in 1988 to promote venture capital formation, entrepreneurship and economic diversification in Hawaii. Spencer has served as its president since 1999. This is HVCA’s 12th annual Deal of the Year and 5th annual Entrepreneur of the Year award ceremony.

Deal of the Year – Darren Kimura – CEO – Sopogy has pioneered the concept of MicroCSP(tm) using its mirrored concentrating solar thermal solar collectors to create high quality thermal heat. This heat is used in the industrial process and as solar steam. The International Energy Agency has estimated that only 17% of final energy consumption is for electricity while 47% of final energy consumption is in the generation of thermal energy. Sopogy’s technologies are poised to capture the thermal energy market by harnessing the power of the sun. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable process heat and solar steam. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Young Entrepreneur – Scott Mercer is the Co-Founder and CEO of Volta Industries, LLC. An automobile enthusiast since birth, Mercer began by trading Hot Wheels cars with his friends at age five and never looked back!
Mercer founded Volta, an electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure firm, in Hawaii in August 2010. He and business partner Christopher Ching developed Volta’s proprietary revenue model based on public EV charging stations, and successfully launched this business model on Oahu in 2012, quickly expanding the number of EV charging stations throughout the island. Today Mercer is leading Volta’s strategic expansion to ten cities on both U.S. coasts by heading up efforts to secure capital from outside investors. In addition, Mercer is working to establish partnerships both regionally in Hawaii and nationally.

Software Entrepreneur – Dan Leuck – Contix Chairman & Co-Founder
Dan is the CEO and Owner of Ikayzo, a software development and interactive design firm servicing customers such as Bank of America, Nomura Securities, PIMCO, Sony and Oracle. Previously, Dan served as SVP of R&D for ValueCommerce, Asia’s largest online marketing company, Global Head of Development for London-based LastMinute.com, Europe’s largest B2C website, and President of the US division of DML. Daniel has extensive experience managing teams of 150+ developers in five countries. He has served on numerous advisory boards and panels for companies such as Macromedia and Sun Microsystems.

Inventor Entrepreneur – Ken Berkun founded LABELS THAT TALK in 2006 and has invented and patented its core technology, Soundpaper that lets you record sound on everything from labels to greeting cards. He has extensive background in high tech companies, both as an individual contributor and in management. Prior to Labels That Talk, he was a co-founder of Singingfish, the world’s first audio/video search engine (now owned by AOL). Ken was responsible for Singingfish’s business plan and strategy.

Social Entrepreneur – Elyse Petersen worked as a Global Tea Ambassador in Wazuka, Kyoto, Japan with the International Tea Farms Alliance. Through her time in Japan she made many connections with tea farmers and was inspired by the passion farmers had for their tea. She is now the founder of Tealet, a social enterprise that connects drinkers with tea growers around the world.

Legacy Entrepreneur – Mr. Watumull has more than twenty years experience as a biotechnology industry executive, analyst, and investment banker. He is co-founder of Cardax Pharmaceuticals and co-inventor of the Cardax technology with 14 U.S. and global patents to his name.Cardax has developed and patented a novel class of anti-inflammatory compounds with the potency of steroids or NSAIDS such as aspirin or Celebrex but with the safety of food. He has raised more than $12 million for Cardax since it spun out from Hawaii Biotech in May of 2006. As CEO of Hawaii Biotech, he led efforts that resulted in more than $25 million in investor financing and $30 million in federal grant and contract funding.

Source: http://hvca.org/?p=589

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Sopogy, Inc. Announces Close of Series E Funding Led by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. /blog/2012/11/26/sopogy-inc-announces-close-of-series-e-funding-led-by-mitsui-co-ltd/ /blog/2012/11/26/sopogy-inc-announces-close-of-series-e-funding-led-by-mitsui-co-ltd/#comments Mon, 26 Nov 2012 16:32:00 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1038 November 26, 2012

Company intensifies commercialization of solar steam and renewable industrial process heat markets

HONOLULU, HI.— November 26, 2012 – Sopogy, a concentrating solar thermal technology company today announced the closing of its Series E round of preferred stock and warrants led by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (“Mitsui”). Also participating in the round were new investors Southern California Gas Company, 3M and other key strategic investors. Existing investors, Kolohala Ventures and Enerdigm Ventures also joined the round.

“This financing supports the continued commercialization of Sopogy’s solar thermal technologies” said Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO. “This accomplishment was made possible because of the determination and support of our outstanding team and committed current investors. In this new financing we are also thrilled to be joined by top tier industry leaders and look forward to continued commercialization with our partners.”

Sopogy has pioneered the concept of MicroCSP™ using its mirrored concentrating solar thermal solar collectors to create high quality thermal heat. This heat is used in the industrial process and as solar steam. The International Energy Agency has estimated that only 17% of final energy consumption is for electricity while 47% of final energy consumption is in the generation of thermal energy¹. Sopogy’s technologies are poised to capture the thermal energy market by harnessing the power of the sun.

“Sopogy is bringing us closer to a future where steam and industrial heat is generated by the sun, replacing fossil fuels. We are proud to support Sopogy in that mission” said Wataru Ebata, General Manager, Principal Investment Division at Mitsui.

About Sopogy, Inc.
Sopogy revolutionized solar thermal technology with MicroCSP. Developing modular collectors about one-third the size of a traditional concentrated solar power mirror, Sopogy cut the cost of solar thermal energy to a fraction of the cost. Proprietary storage units stabilize volatile energy production when cloudy and prolong production after sunset. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable process heat and solar steam. Please visit www.sopogy.org

About Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Mitsui is one of the most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment and service enterprises in the world, with 152 offices in 67 countries as of November 2012. Utilizing global operating locations, network and information resources, Mitsui is multilaterally pursuing business that ranges from product sales, worldwide logistics and financing to the development of major international infrastructure and other projects in the following fields: iron and steel products, mineral and metal resources, infrastructure projects, motor vehicles, marine and aerospace, chemicals, energy, food resources, food products and services, consumer services, IT, finance and new business, and transportation logistics. Mitsui is actively taking on challenges for global business innovation around the world. http://www.mitsui.com/jp/en/ index.html

Footnotes:

1. http://www.iea.org/topics/heat/

Contact Media Relations at media@sopogy.org or call 866-767-6491.

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Hawaii’s solar power flare-up: Too much of a good thing? /blog/2012/11/20/hawaiis-solar-power-flare-up-too-much-of-a-good-thing/ /blog/2012/11/20/hawaiis-solar-power-flare-up-too-much-of-a-good-thing/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 17:50:21 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1031 By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles TimesNovember 17, 2012, 5:53 p.m.

Darren Kimura, chief executive of Sopogy, shows how his technology uses the Big Island’s abundant sunshine to return electricity to the power grid. Solar power is now so popular that Hawaii’s utilities worry about damage from excess electricity pumped back into their systems. (Alana Semuels / Los Angeles Times / December 21, 2009)

WAILUKU, Hawaii — On an island whose stock in trade is sun, and lots of it, Lawrence and Cindy Lee figured they’d be foolish not to join their neighbors and put a few solar panels on the roof.The Lees called one of the solar contractors racing around Hawaii these days, and put in their order. Eleven months later, in October — after endless consultations, emails and a $3,000 study required by Maui Electric Co. — they were still waiting for a permit.”Instead of it being like they want to help you get your solar system in,” Lawrence Lee said, “it’s more like they don’t want you to.”

Solar power has grown increasingly popular across the U.S. Sun Belt, but hardly anywhere has it taken hold as it has in Hawaii. Friendly tax credits, the highest average electricity rates in the nation and the most aggressive renewable energy program adopted by any state have sent homeowners scrambling to install photovoltaic systems on their roofs.

The number of solar power systems across the island state has doubled every year since 2007, with nearly 20,000 units installed. But with homeowners and businesses now producing nearly 140 megawatts of their own power — the equivalent of a medium-size power plant — and solar tax credits biting seriously into the state budget, Hawaii legislators and electrical utilities are tapping the brakes.

Solar tax credits cost the state $173.8 million this year in foregone revenue, up from $34.7 million in 2010, prompting state tax authorities to announce this month that they will temporarily cut the tax credit in half, effective Jan. 1.

Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, which oversees subsidiary utilities on Maui and the Big Island, has warned that the explosion of do-it-yourself solar could threaten parts of the power grid with the possibility of power fluctuations or sporadic blackouts as the power generated by homeowners —unpredictable and subject to sudden swings — exceeded output from power plants in some areas.

So rapid is the growth that Hawaiian Electric at one point proposed a moratorium on solar installations, a plan that met with immediate outrage and was quickly withdrawn. But utilities are requiring expensive “interconnection” studies, such as the one the Lees had to do, in solar-saturated areas to analyze what impact a new unit is going to have on the utility system beforeit can connect to the grid.

“The last three months are turning into a madhouse of solar here on Oahu,” Hawaiian Electric spokesman Peter Rosegg said. “We’re doing everything we can to get in as much solar as possible, but there’s a strong sense that we’re kind of at a crossroads here in trying to deal with these issues.”

Hawaii has become a solar laboratory for the rest of the country. Many states are experiencing sun-power booms, but few have had their grids overwhelmed to the extent seen in Hawaii.

“No one knows exactly when this is going to take place, but we are approaching a red line…. We will reach a point where they will not accept any more generating capacity,” said Marco Mangelsdorf, who runs a private solar company, ProVision Solar, and teaches energy politics at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.

Historically, power is supplied to homes and businesses from big central power plants, easily controlled by engineers who dial up the turbines when demand peaks, such as on hot afternoons when customers come home and turn on air conditioners. But the push for renewable energy has introduced into the equation “nonfirm” power — electricity generated by wind, which comes and goes, or sun, which can suddenly disappear behind a cloud.

As customers generate more than they need and feed the excess back into the grid for others to use, it makes managing the system much more complex. What happens when a cloud passes over and dozens of rooftop units suddenly grind to a halt? What’s to be done on a sunny autumn day, when rooftop solar systems are producing way more power than the grid can use?

The problem is especially pronounced in Hawaii, where each island has its own isolated power grid and can’t quickly compensate with power generated elsewhere. The result, if not carefully managed, can be computer-killing power surges (in cases of excess generation), flickering lights, isolated blackouts or worse.

“It can crash the entire system,” said Robert Alm, executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric.

California, which has more than 120,000 solar energy systems online, doesn’t have Hawaii’s serious overload problems, but has recently faced its own debate over how much can be paid to solar-equipped homeowners for power they feed into the grid. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is studying Hawaii’s operations to learn what happens when solar power inundates a power system.

“As an engineer, you always want to look at the worst-case scenario. Well, they have it,” project manager Elaine Sison-Lebrilla said.

Hawaii finds itself pushing the envelope not just because of its abundant sunshine. A bigger driver has been the state’s reliance on oil to fuel its power plants. Oil is always more expensive than natural gas, but prices shot up even higher last year when Japan’s nuclear disaster sent demand, and soon prices, skyrocketing on the Asian markets where Hawaii buys its supplies.

The state has set a goal of obtaining 40% of its power from locally generated renewable sources by 2030. Already, the Big Island has jumped ahead and is producing 44% of its power from renewable sources, and it could hit 100% by the end of the decade.

Kauai announced earlier this month that it would build its third large-scale solar plant and expected to generate half the island’s power by the sun soon. “Our understanding is that would be the highest penetration of any utility, certainly in the United States,” said Jim Kelly, spokesman for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.

The state is studying a multibillion-dollar undersea cable that would connect outlying islands — the big generators of wind, geothermal and solar power — to Oahu, home to most of Hawaii’s population. This would not only allow them to serve as energy farms for the state, but it would also allow the kind of interconnected grid that would alleviate wind and solar variability problems.

Over the last few months, new rules have liberalized the standards for allowing solar connections, and a week ago, the Lees completed their long journey through the energy bureaucracy: They had their rooftop unit installed. They’re no longer worried about turning off the lights in empty rooms.

“I wish I hadn’t had to go through all this,” Lawrence Lee said. “But it was worth it.”

kim.murphy@latimes.com

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

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The Climate Reality Project /blog/2012/11/14/the-climate-reality-project/ /blog/2012/11/14/the-climate-reality-project/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 18:26:59 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1028 YOU’RE INVITED TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
NOVEMBER 14-15, 2012
Dirty energy has created a world of Dirty Weather. Today, climate disruption affects us all. And it will take all of us together to solve it. Join us for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report, when together we will stand up and demand real solutions to the climate crisis.

SEGMENT 2 / HOUR 6:
10:00PM NOVEMBER 14, 2012
THE WORLD’S OCEANS & HAWAII

OVERVIEW
In a special conversation, Climate Reality Chairman and Founder Al Gore speaks with government and business leaders in Hawaii about their activities to combat climate change, while President and CEO Maggie L. Fox leads a discussion with Fabien Costeau, grandson of Jacques Costeau and founder of Plant a Fish, on the health of our world’s oceans.

PANEL DISCUSSION
The Health of the Oceans

SPECIAL GUESTS
Fabien Cousteau, Founder, Plant a Fish
Maggie L. Fox, President and CEO, The Climate Reality Project
Dawn Martin, President and Chair of the Board, SeaWeb

PANEL DISCUSSION
Clean Energy in Hawaii

SPECIAL GUESTS
Al Gore, Founder and Chairman, The Climate Reality Project
Brian Schatz, Lt. Governor, State of Hawaii
Darren Kimura, President and CEO, Sopogy

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Desalination Pilot Project Harnesses Solar Power /blog/2012/06/26/desalination-pilot-project-harnesses-solar-power/ /blog/2012/06/26/desalination-pilot-project-harnesses-solar-power/#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2012 15:12:41 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1016 JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
Renewable Water Technologies LLC is developing a new seawater desalination process that uses less energy than conventional methods. Project engineer Riley McGivern, shown at RWT’s Kakaako facility, says the pilot project’s objective is to show that such a system can work in a real-world setting.

On a sun-soaked patch of gravel in Kakaako a small group of entrepreneurs are pioneering technology that uses solar energy to turn salt water into fresh water.

The work being done by Renewable Water Technologies is early in the research and development process, but the company’s founders say it has the potential to be scaled up for commercial applications.

Much of seawater desalination done in Hawaii and elsewhere is accomplished through reverse osmosis, a relatively energy-intensive process that removes the salt and other solids from water by forcing it through a membrane under high pressure.

By comparison, RWT’s technology uses solar thermal collectors to heat the water and remove the salt through a humidification-dehumidification (HDH) process. The company’s pilot project features solar panels similar to those found in home rooftop water heating systems. The company is installing photovoltaic panels that will power the low-wattage pumps needed to move the water through the system.

“It is designed to be modularized and deployable,” said John Chock, one of the company’s principals. “That’s the way the business will grow. Our business model is to produce small-scale, solar-powered desalination systems.”

Potential customers include the military and oceanfront hotels, Chock said.

RWT will hold an open house at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Kakaako facility, 40 Ahui St.

Chock teamed up with University of Hawaii School of Engineering professor Weilin Qu and his former student Riley McGivern to form RWT in late 2010. The company’s technology is adapted from work Qu and McGivern did in a UH laboratory. RWT placed second in the 2011 UH Business Plan Competition.

RWT’s technology is particularly attractive in a place like Hawaii, where there are limits to the amount of fresh water that can be pumped from aquifers and high energy costs make other forms of desalination expensive, Qu said.

The output of the Kakaako pilot project so far has been limited to a few gallons an hour as the water samples are tested to make sure the system is meeting its benchmarks, McGivern said.

The objective is to show that such a system can work in a real-world setting, said McGivern, who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UH. “It’s a stand-alone system. A lot of this is proof of concept,” said McGivern, 25.

RWT is being funded by the Hawaii Technology Development Venture, a project administered by the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research that receives funding from the Office of Naval Research. The site near the Children’s Discovery Center is being provided by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Qu received an initial $50,000 grant from the Hawaii Technology Development Venture in 2009 with renewable energy company Sopogy Inc. as his corporate partner. Based on success in the lab, RWT was formed and received $300,000 in funding under a contract with the Hawaii Technology Development Venture to do the Kakaako pilot project. Oceanit Laboratories Inc. is RWT’s partner under the contract.

Chock, the former head of the state-run Hawaii Strategic Development Corp., said RWT is an example of what new UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple referred to when he emphasized the need to make a greater effort to maximize the school’s income potential.

“We have some very good technology coming out of university research that often doesn’t reach the commercial stage because the typical professor doesn’t have the necessary entrepreneurial skills,” Chock said. Projects like RWT show that local research and development has the potential to be successfully commercialized, he said.

The University of Hawaii has not fared well in terms of generating licensing revenue from spending on research. UH received $256 million in research money in fiscal 2010 and took in $107,702 in licensing income, according to the latest data from the Association of University Technology Managers.

A 2010 report by the UH Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development acknowledged the school’s shortcomings in generating revenue from its R&D efforts.

The report, prepared for UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, said “there is much room for improvement” within university’s technology transfer office, which was established in 1989 and reorganized in 2000.

Among the challenges facing the office are establishing new relationships between the school and outside investor groups and entrepreneurs, according to the report. Officials also must work to change the culture of the school by “hiring and supporting entrepreneurial faculty and rewarding their efforts to move promising scientific developments into broader use for the benefit of society,” according to the report.

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Palm Springs Air Museum to adopt cutting-edge A/C /blog/2012/06/08/palm-springs-air-museum-to-adopt-cutting-edge-ac/ /blog/2012/06/08/palm-springs-air-museum-to-adopt-cutting-edge-ac/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2012 12:35:27 +0000 admin /blog/?p=1014 Palm Springs Air Museum to adopt cutting-edge A/C

Innovative setup uses hot water for air conditioning

 

The vintage World War II airplanes at the Palm Springs Air Museum will soon have a cutting-edge solar thermal air conditioning system to keep them cool, run almost entirely by hot water.

The technology, called micro-concentrated solar power, or MicroCSP, uses solar thermal troughs to collect and intensify heat from the sun to heat liquid, which will then be used to cool the 22,000-square-foot hangar where the planes are displayed.

The heated liquid is used in a process called absorption refrigeration that requires no electricity or gas to power an air conditioning system, although the Air Museum system will have a natural gas backup generator.

The museum spends about $100,000 a year on electricity, with the lion’s share, 80 percent, going to air conditioning, said Fred Bell, vice chairman of the museum’s board. He expects the new system to cut those costs by at least a quarter, he said.

Bell, who is also chief operating officer of Noble & Co., a Palm Desert solar developer, said his firm has no financial involvement in the project.

The system which could be installed in the fall, is being funded through a $1.5 million investment that Southern California Gas Co. made earlier this year in Sopogy, the Hawaiian company that has developed the system.

Officials for both companies declined to say exactly how much of the investment will be used for the Palm Springs system, which is the first full-scale commercial test of Sopogy’s technology in California.

“The Palm Springs Air Museum demonstration project is a great example of how energy-efficient technologies, renewable solar energy and clean, affordable natural gas can all work together,” said Hal D. Snyder, cq vice president of customer solutions for SoCal Gas.

To date, Sopogy has a total of seven installations worldwide in locations ranging from Texas to Abu Dhabi, cq company officials said.

“Palm Springs is an ideal location for solar power, and we feel a special connection to the Palm Springs Air Museum,” said Darren T. Kimura, Sopogy’s president and CEO.

“Sopogy’s headquarters are around the corner from Pearl Harbor, once home to Wildcats, Flying Fortresses and other WWII fighter planes.”

The solar thermal troughs will be installed in the museum’s north overflow parking lot, and then linked into the existing air conditioners on the hangar.

K Kaufmann covers energy and green technology and health care for The Desert Sun. She can be reached atk.kaufmann@thedesertsun.com or (760) 778-4622

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