The First Look West (FLoW) 2016 Winners

Congratulations to our 2016 First Place winners XStream Trucking!

First Place ($50,000): XStream Trucking

XStream Trucking’s patented GapGorilla increases the efficiency of the $700 billion long-haul trucking industry by streamlining the gap between the cab and trailer. The GapGorilla deploys to fill the gap at highway speeds to create a smooth surface, and then automatically folds flat when the truck slows down to allow sharp turns. At highway speeds, two thirds of fuel is spent overcoming aerodynamic drag, so streamlining this gap improves fuel economy significantly. Since fuel is the largest non-labor cost in running a fleet, a small reduction in fuel usage could have a large impact on bottom line returns.

The GapGorilla has been tested through computer models, wind tunnels, track tests and highway trials. As a result of these successful tests, several large fleets encompassing over 1,000 tractors have agreed to paid trials.

Since winning FLoW, XStream Trucking won the $30,000 second prize at the 2016 DOE National Cleantech Up competition in Denver. The team bested 19 other competitors from across the country in a tough battle.

XStream CEO Daniel Burrows mentioned that winning FLoW generated amazing buzz for the company. On June 24, 2016 they secured their first quote for a fleet with potential revenue of $600,000 and five other customers have given verbal agreements. The company is also in conversation with Pepsico, with a potential contract in the millions of dollars.

Shared Second Place ($10,000): Akabotics

Akabotics, from the University of Hawaii, has developed the Microdredger™ system for removing sediment buildups in waterways that increase flooding vulnerabilities, smother marine life, and impede water commerce. The Microdredger™ not only lowers diesel fuel consumption by 90 percent while reducing turbidity; the device can also work continuously and autonomously, reducing operating costs by 75 percent. Akabotics will impact the $4.3 billion global power plant dredging market where turbines, pumps, inlet canals, and reservoirs need to be free from sediment buildups in order to operate at peak efficiency. In California alone, turbine damage due to siltation has resulted in 2.6 billion kWh lost to reduced efficiency, or $316.5 million in lost electricity sales.

Shared Second Place ($10,000): SkyCool Systems

SkyCool Systems’ pioneering breakthrough, based on research at Stanford University (and funded by a $3 million grant from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E), is a patented approach to cooling without input electricity or evaporating water. In this approach, specialized photonic surfaces are used to reflect the sun’s energy, while transmitting heat as thermal radiation to the sky. With these properties, and by exploiting a phenomenon known as the ‘sky cooling’ effect, these surfaces can remain 18 to 27°F cooler than the ambient air temperature even under direct sunlight. SkyCool Systems’ core product is a panel that uses these surfaces to cool water. When integrated with building-scale chiller and refrigeration systems, the water cooling panels could improve their efficiency as much as 40%, 24 hours a day.

SkyCool Systems’ panels will allow customers to save money by reducing their energy costs, meet LEED and Netzero standards, and California’s newly stringent Title 24 building standards. The company is targeting the $6 billion supermarket refrigeration electricity market in the United States as its initial beachhead. In the long run, SkyCool Systems aims to improve the efficiency of all cooling and refrigeration systems, a $100 billion+ market globally. It plans to deploy its initial pilot installations in 2017 – 2018 and is in discussions with a range of customers and partners.

Transformational Idea Award ($5,000): Element16 Technologies

The Transformational Idea Award went to Element16 Technologies, a UCLA spin-out developing a novel heat storage system that could help relieve the strain on the power grid coping with increasing demand and variable power from renewables. The core technology is a new type of “heat battery” incorporating inexpensive sulfur liquids as the core element which can economically store heat energy produced by combined heat and power (CHP) plants and release when needed, allowing for electricity to be produced on demand. CHP plants generate 12% of electricity in the United States and the DOE set a target of 20% by the year 2030, 87% of which supports high temperature industrial needs in the US. The invention, under development with $5 million in federal, state, and private funding, including support from Southern California Gas, can help “levelize” the grid’s power peaks and valleys, and ensure CHP plants will be able to operate at peak efficiency and meet their customer’s needs.