Gearing Up For Growth, Alphabet Energy Hires Manufacturing VP, Moves to San Francisco

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Sylvain Muckenhirn to head process engineering and manufacturing as cleantech startup with patented waste-heat recovery technology prepares for scale-up.

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We’ve identified key industries where we can recover massive amounts of waste heat, we’re working with key partners in these industries, and will soon be seeking additional investors to help us achieve commercialization.

Alphabet Energy Inc., maker of thermoelectric materials for waste-heat recovery, has appointed Sylvain Muckenhirn vice president of process and manufacturing. Muckenhirn will lead the scale-up of its prototype technology to fabless volume manufacturing ahead of customer delivery targets in 2012 and 2013.

Alphabet Energy embarks on a pivotal year following significant progress in 2010. The company is expanding quickly, recently moving its corporate offices from early-stage digs at UC Berkeley to San Francisco, with another move south into Silicon Valley possible soon. The company is poised for growth in 2011, having hit several key milestones during the past 18 months:

  •     Secured a $1 million investment from Claremont Creek Ventures and the CalCEF Angel Fund;
  •     Attracted $320,000 in Small Business Innovation Research contracts from the U.S. Army, Air Force, and the Department of Energy;
  •     Expanded its team of highly specialized industry professionals to 8 employees;
  •     Partnered with key pilot-site and supply-chain parties to establish focused distribution in its target market.

Muckenhirn is an expert in a wide variety of manufacturing technologies, and brings valuable operational and business management expertise to the company, including 30 years in semiconductors, 15 years in fab development, and 7+ years in MEMS and SAW devices. As R&D and manufacturing director for Advanced SAW Products (Switzerland), he drove the startup from an unstable lab process to volume manufacturing and a successful acquisition by Nokia. As a consultant, he set up manufacturing processes and lines for venture-funded start-ups Nanoraptor and SAWCOM. After working at Veeco Instruments, Zygo, and FEI, he was senior director of strategic marketing at KLA-Tencor.

“I am confident that Alphabet Energy’s approach to energy harvesting is the best, so much so that my decision to forfeit the fun of consulting was easy. I’m excited to help steer Alphabet towards mass-production of its product, and worldwide success,” said Muckenhirn. “My experience with startups and ramping-up projects maps well to Alphabet’s actual needs, and I’m looking forward to working with an extremely skilled team.”

“The next phase of our growth is focused on scaling development and production, so Sylvain’s experience in this area will be a critical asset for us,” said Matt Scullin, founder and CEO of Alphabet Energy. “We’ve identified key industries where we can recover massive amounts of waste heat, we’re working with key partners in these industries, and will soon be seeking additional investors to help us achieve commercialization.”

Alphabet Energy’s goal is to become the leader in the potential $100 billion global market for sales of its core technology for the conversion of waste heat into electricity, part of a $75 billion/year market for energy efficiency and a $6 billion/year market for industrial equipment. The technology also has the ability to offset as many as 500 million metric tons of carbon per year. Its fabless semiconductor-manufacturing model gives it a capital-efficient route to volume manufacturing.

Thermoelectric materials are semiconductors that, when placed in a temperature gradient, generate electricity in the solid state—with no moving parts. Alphabet’s breakthrough thermoelectric materials can be used to turn heat directly into electricity in applications such as metals refining, cement and glass production, power generation, automotive, aerospace, and military. The company’s proprietary thermoelectric technology is the only that can lend itself to massive scale, utilizing abundant materials and existing, inexpensive manufacturing know-how. The output range of power generation systems incorporating Alphabet’s thermoelectrics can range from microwatts to megawatts.

About Alphabet Energy Inc.
Alphabet Energy is commercializing a breakthrough, inexpensive waste-heat recovery technology developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It will offer the most inexpensive and scalable heat-recovery technology available to tap into the potential $100 billion market for the conversion of waste heat into electricity, with the possibility of offsetting as many as 500 million metric tons of carbon per year. Alphabet Energy won four awards at the 2009 Cleantech Open business competition: runner-up, National Prize; winner, National People’s Choice Award; winner, California region Energy-Efficiency Prize; winner, California region Sustainability Prize. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at @alphabetenergy.


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