This is our future. Instant non-battery charges. Heat generated pumping. Charging mobile phones and LED lights with a cookstove. Collective genius for a better world.
It was an energetic week for entrepreneurs in Orlando at the third LAUNCH Challenge, headlining ten game changing energy innovations at the Kennedy Space Center. A lively bunch of entrepreneurs from across the world spent the days leading up to the Forum amping their presentations together with the LAUNCH team.
What better setting for the LAUNCH Forum, than in the famed NASA Mission Management Team briefing room where critical Shuttle launch decisions are made. Friday and Saturday "impact rotations" with 34 top notch council members advised innovators on how their businesses can make a dent in the universe.
What is remarkable about this class of LAUNCH innovators is that 100% of the technologies are cleantech, energy saving, time saving, and money saving devices that positively impact community development, whether a large building manager in Chicago or a small dairy farmer in India.
One of the innovators, Rene Nunez Suarez from El Salvador, movingly closed his presentation on Turbococina – the world’s cleanest and most efficient wood combustion cookstove – with a quote by inventor Nikola Tesla, “Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.”
The LAUNCH Forum is a vessel for scientists, businessmen, and policy makers to convene and complement the entrepreneurs’ visions of bringing amazing technology to those who need it. The unique LAUNCH partnership between NASA, USAID, the Department of State, and Nike shows in practice the strengths of collaboration along nontraditional lines. A network of public-private partnerships are made available to the innovators, and the program is designed to accelerate transformative innovations that will drive development progress. Read more here about why LAUNCH does what it does best.
Some sound bites from the weekend were:
“Super charge! Boom!” Frank Wang, CEO and founder of NanoTune Technologies, amazed the Forum with a new generation of ultracapacitors that already have five to seven times greater energy storage capacity as conventional capacitors and enable instant and infinite charging. Wong quoted Elon Musk: "The days of batteries are numbered; ultracapacitors will power us into the future."
“Pumps are pervasive.” Mark Bryant spoke about Thermofluidics’ pumping devices that use low temperature heat to generate fluid motion with few moving parts.
“Make power while making food.” Co-founder and CEO of Point Source Power, Craig Jacobson, presented a simple, affordable fuel cell that allows users to create electricity as an added benefit of cooking with biomass-fueled cook stoves. Craig is committed to making power innovation easy to use and financially accessible. On an amusing tone, one LAUNCH colleague recommended crematoriums for thermal energy generation!
"Where the water flows, energy grows.” Burt Hamner, CEO and founder of Hydrovolts, disclosed his affordable “Switchblade” turbine and “Flipwing” turbine rotor that enables reliable hydroelectricity generation from canals and other managed-flow water courses.
“Say goodbye to vampire drainage.” Powerzoa’s Jamie Simon and Sandra Kwak promise a revolution in smart building energy management by providing a lightweight interactive system that enables company-wide control over electricity usage and promotes behavioral change.
Got Milk? Promethean Power Systems has developed a thermal energy battery that enables commercial refrigeration systems to become economically viable in parts of the world where the power grid is unreliable. CEO Sorin Grama spoke about enabling off-grid dairy farmers in India with reliable storage of perishable food items without expensive and polluting generators. Grama and his partner Sam White happily announced their first big order for a milk chiller in India.
“I lost track when trying to calculate potential savings around the world!!” Founder and CEO of Gram Power, Yashraj Khaitan, baffles the Forum with a micro-grid solution that provides clean, reliable, affordable, and scalable electrical power to underserved remote rural communities in the developing world. In Hindi Gram also means village, and Khaitan and his partner Jacob Dickinson are committed to bringing their battery storage and pre-payment model to not just the Indian, but the global marketplace.
“The problem is not that children can’t do their homework, the problem is that they can’t *see* their homework,” Nina Marsalek, COO of The Solanterns Initiative shared with the Forum. The Initiative is working in Kenya to replace 1 million kerosene lanterns with solar powered lights and create micro-entrepreneur jobs. Solanterns, Marsalek says, are the best, easiest and fastest way to bring energy to households.
“Our technology can reduce building energy usage by 40%.” Ashu Misra, CEO of ITN Energy Systems, introduces a revolutionary flexible electrochromic film that can retrofit existing windows to allow active control of the sun’s light and heat. Flexible electrochromics changes a window’s opacity to let heat in when a building is cold, or block heat from entering when it’s not needed.
By the conclusion of the Forum, we were inspired with how ideas can be transferred into reality. And as a symbol of this, the group viewed the Vehicle Assembly Building housing the shuttle Endeavor and dined beneath the Saturn V rocket. Meaningful conversation on the terrace, looking out over the Kennedy Space Center turn basin on a beautiful fall day, the interaction between innovators displayed quite a feeling of camaraderie. The months to come will launch these technology leaders forward.
By Lena Delchad