Clean Tech Forum 2009: Clean Tech Start-Ups Vying for Funds

lifeblock ecomasonry presentation photo

During the Clean Tech Forum, start-ups were given time to present their ideas to investors. We listened in on some of the presentations. Here are some of the cool start-ups that we just might see in the near future.IQ wind
An Israeli start-up, the company is working on a breakthrough technology to retrofit older existing wind turbines with new gear that will boost efficiency and improve reliability. The product aims to convert variable wind energy to the constant frequency of the electrical grid. The company states that this could mean a 10-20% efficiency improvement in retrofitted turbines. They're still a bit hush-hush about the specifics until they get their patents. At any rate, they've come up with a 1 MW concept, developed three prototype generations, and is looking to prove the technology on a wider scale.

Trip Convergence
This interesting solution software wants to make driving easier by putting more people in fewer cars. But it isn't a typical rideshare program, but rather something that requires a bit of a culture change. The idea is a biometric infrared Ride Sharer ID Card, along with a car-based transceiver, captures information about carpooling activity. The information can then be used for a few benefits — from helping a company come up with an audit trail for paying employees for carpooling, helping the local governments monitor vehicle occupancy in carpool lanes and reduce Highway Patrol enforement costs, or devising a new way to arrange car pools. It's more of a concept idea, and the audience is broad, giving the technology a wide range of potential uses.

This company has come up with an atmospheric measurement system that the company expects will greatly enhance the accuracy of site assessments for wind farms, and improve operations at those farms. It allows for long range, micro-scale volumetric measurement of wind speed, direction, density, temperature and even water vapor. WindSight's technology can provide 3D mapping of a 7,000 acre site with one system that measures actual air molecules with a laser sensor. They expect to be in production by 2010, and will have to compete with similar companies like Previento.

Earth Class Mail
We've talked about Zumbox — a digital online mail service based on your physical address — but here is a counterpart called Earth Class Mail. It allows users to view a color-scanned photo of their incoming physical mail and choose if they want it to be scanned, shredded, recycled, transferred, forwarded physically or archived. The company is already in over 175 countries on smaller levels, and starting in April, Swiss Post will launch it in 5 major European countries, with 11 more in Europe and Asia by the end of the year.

LifeCrete Ecomsonry
The LifeBlock is a building material that claims to be the first carbon negative masonry construction block. The company combined hemp-wood, used in France over 1,200 years ago, and Magnesium Oxide cement, used on the Great Wall of China. The combination of the ancient techniques, they say, will solve issues with carbon output, thermal performance, and the overall health of the home. The block, comparable in weight to a cinder block, can be modified with conventional power tools and eliminates the need for insulation, sheet rock, siding and paint. LifeCrete customers have experienced a reduction in energy bills by up to 50 percent, according to Bessette. According to Bessette, half of all homes built by 2014 will be green homes and LifeCrete expects to supply that demand.

Prism Solar Technologies
This company manufactures holographic films that select the best areas of the spectrum of incoming light and focus it onto PV cells for improved efficiency. They note that their holographic films can be used with any PV cell technology, replace up to 70% of capacity-constrained silicon in a PV module, and achieve low module manufacturing costs. They also note that it can produce 5-10% more kWh per rated Wp than traditional models. Prism Solar expects its modules to reach grid parity by 2012.

"Driving behavior is responsible for 95 percent of crashes and one-third of fuel consumption," said CEO Dan Steere. GreenRoad's software is a solution, reducing crash costs by 49% and fuel consumption and emissions by 10%. Working on the same principles as the Nissan eco pedal idea, the hardware installed in the vehicle detects unsafe or inefficient mvoements, and alerts the driver while also sending information to the web so it can later "coach" the driver for improved behavior.

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