FLoW's 2016 Winners
Stanford University’s XStream Trucking won the US Department of Energy sponsored $50,000 first prize at the 2016 First Look West (FLoW) competition. XStream’s patented GapGorilla technology deploys at highway speeds to close the gap between a truck’s cab and trailer, reducing drag and improving fuel economy by up to four percent. GapGorilla has been tested using computer models, wind tunnels, track tests and highway trials. Ultimately this technology could save the $700 billion long-haul trucking industry up to $2 billion a year on fuel.
FLoW’s Second Prize of $10,000 was shared by two winners Akabotics and SkyCool Systems. University of Hawaii’s Akabotics is developing the Microdredger™ robot for removing sediments that clog waterways, smothering marine life and impeding normal water commerce in many coastal areas. Microdredger uses electricity instead of diesel fuel, lowering diesel fuel consumption by 90 percent while clearing water turbidity by 20 percent.
Stanford’s SkyCool Systems core product is a rooftop, water cooling panel system that can improve the efficiency of refrigeration and air conditioning systems by up to 40 percent using an untapped renewable resource: the cold of the sky. This could save customers such as supermarket owners a significant amount of money in operating costs, and allow them to meet new regulatory standards and internal sustainability goals.
The Transformational Idea Award went to Element16 Technologies, a UCLA spin-out developing novel “heat batteries” with inexpensive sulfur liquids as the storage fluid. Such cost-effective heat storage systems can help “levelize” the grid’s power peaks and valleys and ensure the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants deliver the on demand power needed by their customers.
FLoW's 2015 Winners
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.
The Bay Area company NexTint placed second for developing a dimmable, retrofittable window film that can tune the amount of light and heat that is transferred through a building's windows to keep occupants comfortable, reduce glare, and save energy and money. Using cost-effective, scalable technology NexTint can retrofit existing buildings to keep not only employees productive, but also meet government regulations.
Third Prize went to Reebeez. This Austin, Texas startup is commercializing a lightweight, solid-state microengine that can revolutionize power propulsion systems in small, unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones. The Transformational Idea Award went to Obtainium for their pilot-scale reactor for converting CO2 into ethanol using unique copper catalysts--that works at room temperatures and air pressures.
FLoW's 2014 Winners
Turning waste from hard drives into critical resources used in the most efficient wind turbines and electric motors is REEcycle’s passion, the Texas team that won the $100,000 First Place prize at the Third Annual First Look West (FLoW) Regional competition. REEcycle’s process extracts Neodymium and Dysprosium, two precious rare earth elements, essential in manufacturing clean energy technologies, from discarded hard drive magnets. Rare Earth elements are critical to the most efficient wind turbines and electric motors – two technologies that drive the energy efficient future. Retrieving these elements makes the US less dependent on unpredictable foreign sources such as China, the world’s largest exporter of rare earth elements.
REEcycle’s advance was celebrated at an awards event held at the California Institute of Technology on May 7. Along with Second and Third Place winners graphene processor GrollTex and CinderBio, an industrial enzyme innovator, REEcycle shared $160,000+ in prize money and start-up packages that include boot camp scholarships and legal support.
In addition MuTherm took home the $5,000 Transformational Idea Award with an innovation that will boost the safety of the nation’s thousands of miles of gas pipelines. Sponsored by Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute and Draper University (the entrepreneurial educational program founded by venture capitalist Tim Draper) the TIA rewards ground-breaking pre-commercial research.
FLoW's 2013 Winners
Young entrepreneurs tackling hard problems and billion dollar markets took top prizes at the First Look West (FLoW) regional finals competition held at the University of Southern California on May 7, 2013. UC Berkeley's Pyro-E won the $100,000 DOE prize and start up packages including face time with top investors and legal support.
Caltech's Chai Energy and Stanford's Dragonfly Systems claimed the $40,000 second place and $20,000 third place prize money.
Rare Earth Separation took home the inaugural $5,000 Transformational Idea Award. Sponsored by Draper University, the entrepreneurial educational program founded by venture capitalist Tim Draper, the TIA rewards ground-breaking, pre-commercial research.
FLoW's 2012 Winners
Young entrepreneurs developing energy from waste water treatment, robots for cleaning solar panels and solar cell films with 20% more efficiency took the top prizes at the First Look West (FLoW) regional finals competition. At an awards celebration held at the California Institute of Technology on May 1, Stanford Nitrogen Group, Greenbotics and Xite Solar shared $200,000 in prize money.
The FLoW competition is one of six awarded regionally as part of a three-year, $2 million DOE program. The winning teams from six regions went on to compete at a competition held at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. June 12 & 13, 2012.