Colonie startup innovating how we heat and cool

April 07, 2017 04:56 PM

COLONIE - Smart heating and cooling. That's the goal of a tech company in Colonie.

The start-up was recently awarded a grant to streamline its operation. Their innovation could change the way your refrigerator and other products work.

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It's often said that big ideas start small. This one was literally cooked in a regular household microwave while Dr. Rudvik Mehta was attending RPI.

"There's an existing industry that uses these materials. What we've done is we've made them better using nano," explained Mehta, who is the CEO of ThermoAura.

That's where they're unique, using a chemical process to produce nanocrystals. Think of it as Lego pieces, but in nanoscale, looking like a powder at first, then pressed into wafers.

"Just by the virtue of the fact that the building blocks are nano-structured, you can improve the performance," noted Mehta.

That's why the material has the potential for multiple applications, like a completely solid state pump with no moving parts to replace the compressor in your refrigerator. If you have a heat source, you can use the material to produce electricity.

"Or you can have a cooling HVAC system in your car that might use these materials. They're also used for cooling electronics," pointed out Mehta.

The National Science Foundation funded part of the research at RPI. The company ThermoAura was born soon after with funding from the feds, the state and private investments. Mehta ditched the household microwave for one that's more suited for manufacturing purposes.

ThermoAura was recently awarded $75,000 from FuzeHub and the Center for Economic Growth to make the process even better.

"What we're basically trying to do is we're buying more manufacturing equipment to streamline and automate this process further," noted Mehta.

"Manufacturing and innovation is the goal of the grants. We want to see economic impact or technology innovation or both," noted Amber Mooney with FuzeHub.

The economic impact is that they plan to add more jobs -- all changes that will allow them to grow, increase sales and investments.


WNYT Staff

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