New Advance in Energy Storage Wins Top Prize at FLoW; Refrigeration Innovation Yields Cheaper, Safer Food

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FLoW oversees the Western Region of the DOE’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC) and is part of Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute.

Axiom Exergy, led by a Stanford University team, won the $75,000 First Place prize at the Fourth Annual First Look West (FLoW) Regional competition, with technology that could save the food industry millions of dollars in energy costs. Refrigerating food accounts for a substantial 55 per cent of the energy use in supermarkets. Axiom’s Refrigeration Battery™ “charges” by freezing tanks of salt water at night, when electricity is cheaper, and then it uses those frozen tanks to provide refrigeration throughout the day. The technology reduces energy costs and lowers the risk of food spoiling during power outages, potentially yielding cheaper and safer food for consumers.

Supermarkets are scrambling to maintain their razor-thin profit margins, and they spend a lot of money on their utility bills, so $20,000 in utility savings has the same effect on store profits as $1.4 million in additional sales of groceries. Axiom’s patent-pending Refrigeration Battery™ will save supermarkets as much as 20% a year in electricity costs and unknown dollars in food spoilage. Axiom Exergy is installing its first full-scale system at a supermarket in the Bay Area this year, and it has over $1 million in sales pipeline with a leading national supermarket chain.

Axiom’s advance was celebrated at an awards event held at the California Institute of Technology on May 6. Along with Second and Third Place winners NexTint, an electrochromic film company and Reebeez, a drone engine innovator, Axiom shared $100,000+ in prize money and start-up packages that include boot camp scholarships and legal support.

Early startup Obtainium took home the $5,000 Transformational Idea Award with a novel, pilot-scale reactor that converts CO2, along with water and electricity, into liquid fuels and chemicals that are cost-competitive with petroleum products. Sponsored by Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute the TIA rewards ground-breaking, pre-commercial research.

FLoW http://www.flow.caltech.edu oversees the Western Region of the DOE’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC) and is part of Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute http://resnick.caltech.edu/. The awards event was the culmination of a six month competitive process, involving over 60 teams from 25 universities in 13 states, uncovering the untapped clean energy innovation in American university labs. The winning teams from five regions across the country will now participate in the National Competition in Washington D.C., June 24, 2015.

For more information contact:
The FLoW Office, 626-395-1968, stephanie(dot)yanchinski(at)caltech(dot)edu.

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