By GREGORY ZELLER //
The future of energy efficiency is happening right now at ThermoLift – more specifically, it’s happening in British Columbia.
Just months after the Natural Gas Innovation Fund, a big-time Canadian VC firm, announced it was increasing its already-significant investment in the Stony Brook-based temperature-control innovator, ThermoLift has installed its first Thermal Compression Climate Control Device in a single-family Vancouver home.
The “TC3” is a fuel-flexible heat pump that leverages a unique thermodynamic process – mastered by ThermoLift President and cofounder Peter Hofbauer, a German genius with more than 150 international patents to his name – to create cost and energy efficiencies in space heating and cooling and water-temperature control.
ThermoLift, founded in 2012 by Hofbauer and company Director Paul Schwartz, is already installing a second TC3 in another single-family Vancouver home. Both installations are part of a pilot project with FortisBC Energy, a power-solutions provider supplying natural gas, electricity and renewable energy to more than 1 million British Columbia customers.
Ultimately slated to include 10 units, the residential Canadian installations are part of a larger shakedown for the TC3, including FortisBC test sites in Calgary and Saskatchewan, a National Grid collaboration that will install the advanced heat pump in a Long Island-based senior center and another project targeting a Con Edison commercial facility in New York City.
All told, the TC3 will be installed through January in “upwards of 20” test sites across North America, according to Schwartz, who said the pioneering Stony Brook-based company is determined to prove the device’s “durability and performance, with over 100 percent efficiency.”
“The full duration of each test is a 12-month cycle,” Schwartz noted. “Around this time next year, we’ll certainly have a good idea of how they’re doing.”
What happens then with the single-unit heating, cooling and water-temperature control device will be determined by the market – and all indications are the market will be pleased.
ThermoLift, the first company to graduate from Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, has made steady progress over its nine-plus years, including a series of impressive laboratory tests and numerous grants and awards supporting the TC3’s development and commercialization.
In March 2020, the NGIF staked the startup with a $426,500 investment, which soon grew to $525,000 as the TC3 pilot program grew in scope. This past summer, NGIF Cleantech Ventures – the NGIF’s $35 million seed fund for natural-gas innovations – scaled up that investment, marking the first time the seed feed has increased its capital outlay in a single company.
The fund is “excited to be investing in ThermoLift” and its unique Hofbauer Cycle thermodynamic technology, according to NGIF Cleantech Ventures Managing Partner John Adams.
“Their natural gas heat pump is an efficient, low-emission, cost-effective product meeting a variety of energy needs,” added Adams, also the NGIF Capital Corp. president and CEO. “We are confident that ThermoLift will emerge as a market leader in this space.”
Naturally, ThermoLift – which is “proud” to be NGIF Cleantech Ventures’ first upscaled investment, according to Schwartz – agrees with that lofty assessment.
“This partnership reflects our shared ambition toward a low-carbon economy,” Schwartz added. “The investments and the pilot programs are big steps toward a clean-energy future.”