cleantech insights

Video: Company of the Week is Aqwise

Whitney Michael

Analyst Troy Ault explains why we chose Aqwise to be the company of the week:…


Global Water Fathom: A Smart Utility-to-Utility Solution

Mia Javier

Phoenix-based Global Water has launched a new smart water solution named Fathom: the solution represents one of the most thoughtful go-to-market strategies that I have come across to date.

Led by President and CEO, Trevor Hill, Global Water owns and operates regulated water and wastewater utilities in the south western states. Hill is a mechanical engineer by training and was on the leading edge of membrane adoption – specifically membrane bioreactor water recycling systems – in the nineties. He has since become a leader in the development of business models for water, and channels-to-market evangelist.

After years of new technology adoption to drive down the cost of operation of Global Water’s own water treatment systems and wastewater recycling and purple pipe distribution systems, it became clear to Hill that Global’s insight and experiences could be very useful to the multitudes of municipalities out there struggling with water scarcity issues. Indeed, in addition to availability issues, utilities operate in a world of increasing costs and revenue reductions.

These issues became particularly acute when the market turned in 2008. FathomTM was Hill’s solution to addressing municipal concerns head on: lack of capital, lack of IT infrastructure and risk aversion to new …

Torqeedo – an electric outboard as good as the sum of uber-efficient parts

Stephen Marcus

While the world is busy piecing together a new generation of electric vehicles, Germany-based Torqeedo spotted a unique opportunity to engage the marine industry in making the same strategic shift.

Since 2005, at which time the market was completely unaddressed, Torqeedo has pioneered the development of electric outboard motors with a real focus on high performance and design. This element of the company really shines through when looking at its product range. Its smallest product, the Ultralight 403, is intended to be used on kayaks for local water cruising or river boating. It weighs 7 kilograms (including battery), can achieve a top speed of 9-10 kilometres per hour, and has a slow speed range of 42 kilometres. An example of a Torqeedo mid-range product would be its Cruise 2.0. It can provide 5-6 horsepower and weighs around 19 kilograms. Torqeedo’s most powerful product, its Twin Cruise 4.0R, provides boaters with the ability to travel faster and further on electric power as well as running larger boats such as pontoons, larger sailboats and catamarans. The product can provide 10 horsepower and weighs approximately 35 kilograms. Torqeedo has demonstrated that the product can give a range of up to 40 kilometres on …

Porous Power Technologies: Making Li-ion Batteries Better

Hans Chen

The lithium-ion battery industry has been growing at a rapid pace in the past few decades. Almost every portable electronic device today is powered by lithium-ion batteries. Soon, these batteries will power millions of fuel-efficient hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles. Sometime in the future, they will store energy generated by the wind, sun and waves — and provide this energy for use wherever it is needed.

As the market of Li-ion batteries mature, the key factor in the competition will eventually shift from core technology to production cost, creating a niche for companies with advanced manufacturing processes. Porous Power Technologies (PPT) is one of these companies. It develops manufacturing process specifically for Li-ion battery production.

Founded in 2006, PPT owns a wealth of intellectual property that already allowed the company to impress several major battery manufacturers. Porous Power claims that its patent-pending SYMMETRIX® separators and MAS™ production system will allow lithium-ion cell manufacturers to improve performance and safety while realizing dramatic productivity and cost gains, addressing the issue that Li-ion cell manufacturers often focus on improving active materials and electrolytes and miss opportunities to improve performance, safety and cost with better separators (the microporous membranes that separate electrodes). According to …

Yoga Systems: The Tendril/Control4 of Estonia

David Cheng

Building energy management hardware may be unfairly maligned by the pundits because of the sticker price.  The inconvenient truth of building energy management is that hardware matters.  It turns out in order to have the cool cloud-based services analyzing, controlling and optimizing the building’s end devices, those devices need to be connected in some way to an IP backbone either through external controllers or embedded RF modules.  And even then, they might have to go through a central server that manages these RF signals.  Estonia-based Yoga Systems is looking to solve this problem by being the “Tendril or Control4” of the EU with a turnkey building management solution for commercial and residential buildings.  Their big push is to be a cloud-based platform for a smörgåsbord of proprietary and third-party devices and applications in the building.…

Making Building Management Point & Click Simple

Greg Neichin

I wrote a passionate piece last week about concerns raised by some in the Israeli startup world that the country’s venture investors had hit a bit of a fundraising drought.  In this week’s pitch of the week, I’m going to focus on the key reason why this drought should be remedied – namely, that Israel has a whole lot of cutting edge entrepreneurs!

This week our spotlight is on TriDiNetworks, an Israeli-based company that presented as part of the dealflow showcase at our recent Amsterdam Forum.  Founded in 2007, TriDiNetworks is working to simplify the deployment and maintenance of controls networks within the built environment.  We have written extensively in the past about the efficiency opportunity within commercial buildings and there is no shortage of both global, incumbent players and well-financed startups diving into the market.

TriDiNetworks has a unique value proposition as an enabling technology.  The company’s pointed focus is on reducing the setup time and costs associated with configuring sensor networks. The company does not compete with established equipment vendors, but rather works in partnership with these systems to facilitate more efficient roll-out.  “Efficient” in the context of network deployments means simplifying the technical competency required for …

All of the Lights: Not LEDs, says Lumiette

Josh Gould

Even those with only cursory exposure to the lighting industry have heard about LEDs (light-emitting diodes).  Extremely energy efficient and manufactured in a process analogous to semi-conductors, LEDs have spawned a tremendous amount of corporate activity – from heavyweights like Philips making major LED pushes, to high profile startups like Bridgelux and Lemnis Lighting (all of which we cover in our lighting industry analysis here).

But despite all the LED hype – which is particularly strong here in an innovation hub like Silicon Valley – has anyone stopped to recognize that over 80% of the installed base of lights are still “old school” fluorescents and incandescents?  And have all those LED enthusiasts encountered some of the (admittedly debatable) complaints about LED light color and quality?  Further, does anyone realize that the biggest ESCOs like Johnson Controls are still almost entirely swapping old fluorescent fixtures for newer ones, instead of installing LEDs or fancy lighting controls systems?

Lumiette is a Silicon Valley based flourescent lighting startup playing to these contrarian facts.  Founded in 2007 by lighting and semiconductor industry veterans, the company has IP around an ultra-efficient, flat panel lamp with cathodes on the exterior; moving the electrode from the

212 Resources: Aiming for Sustainable Natural Gas Production

Mia Javier

The Oil & Gas industry has come under fire in recent months with a plethora of media coverage on fracking practices and their potential impacts on community water sources. Combined with the BP oil spill disaster, the industry has had its hands full with PR management though ‘fracking’ is the hot-button issue to date. Media coverage of methane contamination in Pennsylvania drinking water sources due to shale gas production has been widely cited. Regulatory agencies, as a result, have been mobilized to look into the issue.

Whether the methane contamination is due to the drilling (specifically well construction) or the fracking process (i.e. the injection of chemicals down drilled wells) the debate and conversation will likely rage on. All the same, like many other heavy water use industries, Oil & Gas has its specific water challenges and we here at the Cleantech Group are noting the emergence of technology vendors with specific treatment solutions for this sector.

According to Les Merrill, VP of Project Development at Utah-based 212 Resources, “At 212 Resources we see our solution as enabling natural gas production to help regions with energy needs.” (212 refers to the boiling point of water in degrees …

G-volution: Overhauling the Haulage Industry

Stephen Marcus

Amidst the EV hype, there is a prominent cohort of venture investors (including Vinod Khosla), who say that EVs do not make economic sense. For these investors, the idea of electrifying fleets of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) is further constrained to the realms of our most imaginative dreams. With the haulage industry particularly sensitive to fuel price increases (it is estimated that fuel bills in the Road Haulage industry account for 35% to 40% of total costs), there is a strong case for “fuel efficiency” technologies in HGVs.

This is where UK-based G-volution steps in. “G-volution has developed a multi-fuelling system that reduces costs and carbon emissions in HGVs”, said Chris Smith, the company’s Managing Director. The patented solution allows vehicles to use two (or more) fuel sources at the same time – a primary fuel, currently diesel, and one or more alternative fuels, currently LPG – without loss of power. Its product, the “Optimiser”, works alongside existing engine management Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and actively monitors in real time how much power is being demanded by the driver. The technology then intercepts the diesel injector signal and trims it accordingly.

G-volution says that a precise mix of alternative …

SenseLogix: Plugging the Energy Management Gap


While the fully automated house remains a pipe dream of home energy management, energy efficiency in office buildings has progressed to the development of building management systems (BMS). Building Management Systems are centralised, programmed specifically for the needs of their building and have traditionally managed HVAC, along with lighting and access control more recently.  While these systems allow much of a buildings energy use to be centrally controlled, they cannot control plug-in devices. They are also inflexible, as adapting to changes in a building’s use after BMS installation requires expensive servicing from a programmer and so are not frequently updated.

Currently the most common answer to the challenge of saving energy in plug-in appliances is discrete plug-in control devices, for example timers. These share none of the drawbacks of BMS as they are easily to implement and adapt and are not limited to HVAC and lighting energy savings. However these plug-in devices also share none of BMS’s advantages, as they cannot be coordinated across a building and are easily stolen, making them inappropriate for education and public access settings.

In May 2009 SenseLogix was founded with the aim of filling this gap between BMS and discrete plug-in controls and providing …