On June 21, 2012, some of the most innovative inventors in America, with genuine concern for the environment, met with Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists for the first time that I have ever experienced.
While press releases for 2% or 3% better solar panels or wind mills have filled the press pages ad infinitum, ad nausea since the Jimmy Carter days, this is the first time in my experience that alternative capital has actually talked to alternative energy.
Conventional banking is dead. Corruption and graft killed it since 2008 or earlier. So in steps wealthy individuals who made a fortune or 2 from computers or software in Silicon Valley to solve the problem. Bankers have always demanded all you have as collateral. Miss a payment or 2 and they take everything. A Venture Capitalist agrees up front how much you want to sell to him, takes only that, and can’t have any more from you, until you really wish to sell it. Risk factors such as R&D time, market penetration, coordinating new supply chains, and learning curves of new employees make timely payment to a banker almost impossible, hence an agreement with a VC is much less stressful. VC’s have a vested interest in making your company succeed too. Bankers don’t. Bankers already have that signed piece of paper allowing them to take everything based entirely on their clock and calendar, not the start-up business owner’s.
VC’s want to lessen risk too. Can an inventor manage a business? Or is he just focused on one thing. That is one of many factors that must be ironed out before capital can flow and get the good idea onto the shelves at Home Depot for the public to find it.
The CommuteFaster energy news site generally aims at 2 areas. Exposing gross mis-allocation of energy resources by present monopolies or government, and trying to get ultra efficient energies both exposed and brought to market. Clean Tech Open is the first event I’ve seen making inroads to introducing genuine capital where it is needed most, the garage based inventor with the initial good ideas, and sometimes, an actual working model.
Clean Tech joined another group, Tech Connect at the Santa Clara California Convention Center to offer the most powerful compilation of technologies and business implementation imaginable. While over a hundred inventors were showing their prototypes and business plans at the exhibit hall, conference rooms were teaching classes on important issues like WHY major corporations are reluctant to invest anything in R&D.
It all boils down to risk, or so they claim. Corporations get stuck in a rut very quickly. Find something that makes a profit, and they get afraid to even try anything different. While Steve Jobs is credited with using Apple’s capital for the R&D which brought the massively popular I-phone and I-pad to market, the speaker exposed some inside reluctance on Steve Jobs’ part to try several other things. Exactly what those techs were, nobody knows. But no big corporation is anxious to blow money on bad ideas, again, so they claim, so innovation more often comes from them talking to customers, rather than from their own in house resources.
The challenge to the inventor is they not only have to have a good, working device, they have to convince the VC or other type investor that they have what it takes to follow though in all aspects of business too. Which leads to a generalization by one Venture Capitalist, that all new start ups need 3 individuals. An engineer to make it work, a business manager to handle the financials and an adult to keep the other 2 in line. This of course references the few software companies started by a kid writing a killer software application while still living with parents. As software has negligible manufacturing and deliver expense, this has been the main driving force for many a fast-buck fortune. Silicon Valley is waking up to the near end of easy money, especially after the Fakebook fiasco, and is now taking a serious look at genuine needs, and with this event, beginning to apply funds to genuine solutions, especially in energy.
Now to some of the ideas shown, which were all looking for capital.
The company that headlined the bad news column at CommuteFaster just before the Clean Tech event, has to be top of the list. They request no name exposure yet, as they are frantically trying to get their stolen prototype rebuilt in time to stay in competition with Clean Tech Open.
And for good reason. Global winners are eligible for a $250,000 award this coming November. Proof of performance claims by 3rd party verification is part of the judging. But this much of their technology, they were willing to reveal.
A fuzzy image of the prototype was shown, but not distributed. It was the size of a soccer ball. Only 6 watts of DC input was creating well over 75 foot pounds of useable torque. This explanation was given.
All electric motors made to date ignore or mishandle the issue of back-EMF. Engineers are taught, even at university level to just discard it, shunt it to ground. This company took a different approach. They intentionally made the problem worse. The result is they found the components of an electric motor were throwing away a major, unrecognized source of energy. Their prototype was now generating extensive torque, using only a few watts of power as input, because the magnet and coil arrangement was kicking back problematic, dirty energy that everyone else to date, was throwing away rather than redirecting where it actually accomplished something.
Another inventor used a similar process to attack back-EMF in 1976 and obtained a few patents at the time. But the exhibitor at Clean Tech has the advantage of another 35 years of technology advancement, along with some of their own unique components, to handle the problem even more efficiently. As soon as 3rd party verification of performance is released, you will hear it here first.
This photo has been circulating the internet for a couple of months.
I first thought it was a computer simulation from some Hollywood cartoon. No, it’s real. The inventor, Chris Hoffmann was at the show. Ryno Motors is based in Portland Oregon. The unit is regulated to 12 MPH for in city use, but can do 25 MPH. It actually has preferable handling in many situations to the now common, 2 wheeled Segue. You sit on this. But you stand on the Segue.
A new wind blade design, intended to grab torque from low speed wind was shown.
Inventor Wallace Kempkey’s website is at http://www.pterofin.com/
The insect-like shape has unique properties to make most efficient use of low volume air movement. A situation where conventional blade designs don’t even move at all, much less generate useable torque.
Regenerative braking is a term used by the hybrid automotive industry. Magnegenerator has a design intended for the aftermarket of golf carts, forklifts and other low speed electric vehicles which have just thrown away braking energy like the automotive industry did for a hundred years. Their website is at http://www.magnegenerator.com/
Another company working to grab wasted energy as we all bounce over bumps and chuck holes in the road is WattShocks. http://www.wattshocks.com/ Not enough energy to power a vehicle yet, unless you drive on Illinois roads. But it could extend range on electric vehicles as much as regenerative braking does.
Tackling the huge energy waste of idling diesel big rigs is Direct Drive Energy.
Their website is http://www.4dde.com/ They use a somewhat conventional technique of tapping wasted energy while the vehicle in is motion, by using an additional wheel, the net result is a charged battery sufficient to run air conditioning or heating for a rig’s cab during an 8 to 12 hour layover. This may not seem like much, until you realize the trucking industry has been idling their 400+ HP engines for the entire time to just run the air conditioning or heater. Imagine a 4 day layover in Phoenix during a 4th of July weekend in 104+ heat. I know a trucker it happened to. Industry wide, the wasted fuel is in the millions of dollars of diesel a year, and creates totally unnecessary pollution.
Battery charging is another issue being attacked. While “Thor Charger” is primarily seeking development capital, and not wishing much public exposure yet, talking to their engineer, they have made tremendous advancement in the reduction of battery recharge time. A recent Jay Leno video reviewing an electric motorcycle spoke as if declining battery life and long recharge time were a limit of physics. No. It’s only a problem because companies like Thor, Bedini, or Novaplasma have, until Clean Tech Open, been unable to get sufficient capital to bring their faster/cooler charging technology to market. Things will be changing soon.
Being involved in the show myself, I regret not having time to talk to all the exhibitors. The few I did, revealed another surprise. The items they brought to the show were only one of their ideas. Usually the one most likely to generate investment the soonest. But what did they all have on the back-burner? One I talked to has a WORKING gravity wheel. I am now working with him to get a torque measurement on it and find the most efficient electric generator for it. Imagine a 4 foot by 6 foot space on the side of your house powering all your home’s electric needs. Another great invention you should be hearing about here at CommuteFaster.com as soon as it becomes available.
Why haven’t we heard of all these small companies before? Wisdom says you perfect something before you mass produce it. Better to find ample capital and iron out the bugs BEFORE doing a YouTube video and making a fool of yourself when something breaks at the worst possible moment. Clean Tech Open is making real business managers out of garage inventors. This is a new approach to the somewhat hobbyist mentality of many alternative energy projects in prior years.
And one last thing to report. You are reading about this on a rather low volume readership blog. Why didn’t you see this on TV? If you lived in Beijing, you did.
Only ONE TV crew showed up to report the event…. one from China. Their video crew even has their own office there in Silicon Valley. Spying? No, more like performing as responsible human beings to confront pollution at the only place it can and has to be solved…..the FUNDING of INNOVATION.