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Sorin Grama

Sorin Grama
Promethean Power Systems

Organization: Promethean Power Systems

What is Promethean Power Systems?

A rural refrigeration system for commercial cold-storage applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries.

A thermal energy battery that enables commercial refrigeration systems to become economically viable in parts of the world where the power grid is unreliable.

THE PROBLEM

Energy shortages threaten the growth of emerging economies where businesses often receive only five to six hours of electricity per day. For example, in India’s massive dairy industry, the vast majority of milk spoils within just a few hours because of inadequate access to refrigeration technology.

THE INNOVATION

In developing markets, Promethean’s modular thermal energy battery can be used as a backup to the unreliable power grid, while in the rest of the world it can be used to reduce the energy consumption of power-hungry refrigeration appliances. In the case of India, the use of the modular battery provides easy access to energy at the source of milk’s production, reducing spoilage and waste.

“In India, we charge the battery using the five or six hours of available electricity, usually at night, and discharge it when the grid is off in order to cool and preserve raw milk.” – Sorin Grama, CEO of Promethean Power Systems

THE VISION

Promethean envisions developing a battery that can be used for any cooling application. Customers will be able to connect multiple batteries together to store energy as needed.

“Our vision is to make the thermal energy battery a technology platform allowing third-party manufacturers to develop attachments such as vaccine or beverage coolers. We’ll publish a design guideline and a consortium of manufacturers will adopt a standard battery specification.” – Sorin Grama, CEO of Promethean Power Systems

RELATED CHALLENGES:

Innovator News

April 22, 2016

As the LAUNCH team gears up for the start of our 2016 cycles, we thought we would take a look at some our past innovators (One from each of our five earliest cycles: Water, Health, Energy, Beyond Waste and Fabrics) and the impact that they are having on people and places throughout the world. From the Americas to Asia to South America, Africa, Australia and Europe, LAUNCH innovators are helping to address some of the world’s greatest challenges and further a more sustainable future for humanity and the planet.

Members of the EWB-LA team make use of the CBT in Tanzania.  Photo courtesy of Aqugenx.

LAUNCH WATER (2010)

Aquagenx/Compartment Bag Test

Innovator: Mark Sobsey

Website: https://www.aquagenx.com/

The Aquagenx Compartment Bag Test (CBT) is a simple, portable water quality test that lets anyone measure E. coli bacteria in water to determine if it poses a health risk. It is ideal for on-site testing in rural, low resource and disaster/emergency areas. The CBT is used by major NGOs, humanitarian relief organizations, governments, private companies and universities around the world.

In a recent example, a team from Engineers Without Borders-Los Angeles (EWB-LA) using the Aquagenx CBT while working on a project to improve the tap water system in Lulindi, Tanzania discovered that the village’s main water source was highly contaminated, mostly likely by local school latrines. This discovery enabled EWB-LA to identify safer water sources for the village.

 

LAUNCH HEALTH (2010)

Propeller Health (formerly Asthmapolis)

Innovator: David Van Sickle

Photo courtesy of Propeller Health

Website: https://www.propellerhealth.com/

Propeller is the leading digital health platform in respiratory medicine. The company has received FDA 510(k) class II clearance to measure and improve medication adherence, predict exacerbations, and help reduce the frequency of symptoms and exacerbations in asthma and COPD.

Propeller’s platform has been clinically validated in two randomized controlled trials and more than ten clinical studies involving over 1400 patients. It has been used by patients with asthma or COPD in over 40 commercial programs across the US at major healthcare systems, payers, employers and other commercial partners. Propeller is backed by Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE), Social Capital, California HealthCare Foundation, Kapor Capital and other investors, and has been recognized by the TEDMED Innovation Showcase, White House Champion of Change, and Bluetooth Breakthrough Product awards, and others.

LAUNCH Energy: 2011

Promethean Power

Innovator: Sorin Grama

Photo courtesy of Promethean Power

Website: http://www.coolectrica.com/

Promethean Power Systems designs and manufactures refrigeration systems for cold-storage applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries. Their products enable farmers and food suppliers to reliably store and preserve perishable food items—such as milk, fruits and vegetables—without the need for expensive diesel-powered generators.

Promethean Power Systems has installed over 200 milk-chilling systems throughout rural India. Each system serves approximately 20-30 farmers who can now deliver more milk to quality conscious dairy processors. The dairies in turn collect more milk and produce higher value and higher quality products for Indian consumers.

In 2015, Promethean was awarded the VentureWell / Lemelson Sustainable Practice Award.

LAUNCH Beyond Waste (2012)

SIRUM

A pharmacy technician at one of SIRUM's recipient sites pops out donated medication in order to rebottle it and dispense it to a patient in need.  Photo courtesy of SIRUM.

Innovator: Kiah Williams

Website: http://www.sirum.org/

Using an innovative technology platform, SIRUM saves people’s lives by allowing health facilities, manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies to donate unused medicine rather than destroy it.

As of 2015, SIRUM has helped donate over $5 million of medicine, enough to help almost 150,000 people get medicine they otherwise couldn't afford.

In 2015, SIRUM Co-Founder and Director and LAUNCH Innovator Kiah Williams was selected as a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur.

LAUNCH FABRICS (2013)

Ecovative/Mushroom Materials

Innovator: Samuel Harrington

Website: http://www.ecovativedesign.com/

A photo of mushroom packaging growing.  Photo courtesy of Ecovative.

Ecovative is a world leading biomaterials company creating and scaling environmentally-friendly products that are cost and performance competitive with conventional materials. The company currently produces and sells a variety of mushroom-based materials, including Myco Board, Myco Foam, Myco Make, Myco Flex, and Myco Grow.

In 2015 Ecovative opened a 20,000 sq. ft manufacturing plant (its second) in Troy, New York and has since produced over 68,000 Mushroom® parts there. Customers include leading industry companies, including Dell, Gunlocke and Enjoy Handplanes, among others. Swedish Home furnishings giant IKEA is considering replacing its polystyrene packaging with Ecovative’s Mushroom Packaging.

 
September 10, 2013

As you may recall from our last update, 6 months ago we had just closed our Joint Venture with India's most successful ice equipment manufacture in Mumbai, received our biggest purchase order to date,  and closed a round of funding from an Indian investor.  With money in the bank, a great local partner,  and a customer order in the books, we began setting up our volume production. 
 
It took 2 painful months to work out the performance issues at these villages and at the end of June we had an engineering breakthrough.  By mid-July we had 3 systems up and running in the field chilling milk for 3 different customers (as we far exceeded their performance expectations).  I am happy to say that after all this effort, our manufacturing process is working and we are delivering systems to customers and getting paid for them!    
 
 
 
We feel we've moved from a fledgling start-up to a small & medium enterprise crossing the proverbial chasm from initial adopters to mass market. There are plenty of challenges ahead, maybe even bigger than the ones we faced so far, but we have a good team and we are confident that we will figure them out.  
 
We are now heavily recruiting Indian nationals who would like to return to India.  Please let us know if you know any stellar managers to add to our stellar team in Mumbai.  
 
Regards,
Sorin & Sam
 
Of course, it would not be a Promethean update without some videos.  We will leave you with a few recent videos that reflect our recent progress.
 
  1. Sorin's talk at an NI engineering conference showing a cool demo of one of our key features.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR3Y7ovPRnM
  2. Sam's talk at TEDx Boston - a journey through the history of Promethean
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_p_sXtA7Wk
  3. Times Now TV - a local perspective on India's milk problem and how Promethean solves it.  This is a program that aired recently on one of India's leading TV stations
    http://www.timesnow.tv/Fight-for-zero-milk-wastage---1/videoshow/4434681.cms
September 28, 2012

World Economic Forum recognizes 23 pioneering tech companies for innovation and leadership in IT/new media, energy/environment and life sciences/health.

June 10, 2012

Got milk? I know some people who do. Promethean Power Systems is revolutionizing the Indian dairy market with their commercial refrigeration systems that eliminate the need for backup diesel generators. The path of Promethean is an impressive one: from a startup company out of MIT, to finalists at the LAUNCH: Energy Forum, and now tackling energy shortages in India head on.

The US Secretary of State agrees. This May, Hilary Clinton announced Promethean Power Systems as the winner of the first Indo-US Science and Technology Endowment Board grant, a bi-lateral program designed to promote collaboration between US and Indian firms.

Here’s an excerpt from Secretary Clinton’s remarks in New Delhi:

“The grant goes to a partnership between an American startup, Promethean Power, and India-based Icelings. They have developed a solar- powered system for refrigerated storage to keep fresh fruits and vegetables from spoiling. And this is a huge advance for India because lack of storage causes Indian farmers to lose approximately $10 billion in crops each year. This innovation promises farmers more income while also improving consumer’s access to fresh produce throughout the year. This partnership united different experiences and areas of expertise, and now with a little help from the endowment fund, Promethean Power and Icelings are helping solve a practical challenge that will make a real difference to people’s lives and incomes.”

Promethean has other cause for cheer. It has just won their first repeat order from one of India's largest dairies.

Sorin Grama, CEO of Promethean Power Systems has the following to say about LAUNCH: “The LAUNCH Forum, true to its name, was a great launching platform for us.  One customer order, contacts in the US dairy industry and an invitation to a prestigious conference on world economic development can directly be traced to our participation in the LAUNCH forum.“

LAUNCH is proud to be working with Promethean Power Systems, whose technology has the power to transform dairy farmers in remote villages throughout the world.

For more information, contact:   Sam White, +1 617 512 8811, sam@promethean-power.com
 

By Lena Delchad