Rocket Fund / Our Awardees / 2022 Awardees
- Community Energy Labs CEL is a certified Women's Business Enterprise developing a hardware and software-as-a-service control platform for managing the energy demands of underserved public, low-income, and small to mid-sized commercial buildings. This sector faces a growing need for affordable, grid-interactive, and efficient building technologies with advanced controls that can respond to grid signals and varying prices for saving energy. The CEL system consists of wireless sensors, equipment controllers, and cloud-based software and its key innovation lies in using machine learning and simple interfaces to drive down the complexity and cost for autonomously controlling how building equipment is operating. The company is currently engaged in Southern California Edison's Demand Response Emerging Markets and Technologies Program and is poised to launch its pilots. The Rocket Fund grant will fund testing of CEL's platform's ability to respond autonomously to a real-time or dynamic grid or pricing signal at Date Elementary School in the SoCal's underserved K12 District (Fontana Unified).
- Captura Corp A spin out of Caltech, Captura is pioneering a Direct Ocean Capture (DOC) technology based on a novel electrochemical process for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via seawater. Captura's technology takes advantage of the ocean's known capacity as the worlds largest CO2 absorber, with 150x higher volumetric density of dissolved inorganic carbon in seawater than air. At its core, the process converts the dissolved bicarbonates into pure CO2 as a product or into liquid form for permanent geologic sequestration, and sets up a cycle drawing down more atmospheric CO2 . The process promises lower costs than other carbon removal technologies, and avoids issues such as absorbents and toxic by-products. The company is currently scaling up the process in a 100 ton facility, and will use a Rocket Fund grant to set up the next step: a demonstration at a major desalination plant (a potential customer) by completing the brine-Captura interface, and establishing the logistics and pilot system siting.
- ElectricFish Energy, Inc. ElectricFish's patented EV charging microgrid deploys intelligent software and resilient EV infrastructure (350 kWh / 350 kW) hardware that makes ultra-fast charging possible in weeks, without trenching and without upgrading existing electrical infrastructure, saving up to hundreds of thousands in installation costs. In addition, this system's battery-integrated solution adds local storage capacity and supports both site and grid resiliency. The technology opens up deployment in grid constrained consumer and fleet locations. The Rocket Fund award will support the piloting of a minimum commercial product with a public auto dealer or gas station location, covering field certification and other costs that will anchor this vital demonstration.
- EvolOH, Inc. EvolOH manufactures pure water, anion-exchange membrane (AEM) electrolyzer stacks for green hydrogen production. The system's core advantage is that it utilizes low-cost materials, and it is designed from the ground-up for component simplicity, manufacturability, and inherent scalability from 10kg/day to 2,000kg/day, in a single unit. Pure-water AEM electrolysis combines the best features of alkaline (domestic supply chains) and PEM (simple balance-of-plant), and is viewed as a promising technology for green hydrogen production. EvolOH has received support from Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy, as well as the California Energy Commission and ARPA-E. The Rocket Fund award will be used to build a multi-kW demonstration unit for deployment in Boston with a system integrator partner. A successful deployment will further derisk the technology and may pave the path for investment.
- InventWood LLC InventWood is an innovator of advanced wood materials. A spin-off of the University of Maryland, InventWood is commercializing an innovative new wood material called MettleWoodTM, as an alternative to steel in construction and other applications. Formed by modifying and densifying regular wood, MettleWood has higher strength than steel (600+ MPa), is 80% lighter, and will be 50-60% cheaper – as well as being far more sustainable. InventWood is collaborating with French multinational Saint-Gobain and its US-based subsidiary, CertainTeed, to develop a cladding product made of MettleWood. InventWood plans to use its Rocket Fund grant to access USDA Forest Products Lab's (USDA-FPL) industrial grade facility and engineering support to produce the samples needed for an ASTM E84 Class A fire rating.
- ScopeZero, Inc. Moonshot category winner Scope Zero's technical innovation is a novel business model; it serves as an innovative framework for providing incentives to increase adoption of energy- and water-efficient home technology, carbon emissions-reduced personal transportation, and residential clean energy options. These incentives are achieved through Scope Zero's creation of a new employee benefit, called a carbon savings account (CSA). Scope Zero's software platform facilitates the CSA, and links three main users: employees, employers, and partner vendors. The employer's matches, along with partner vendor discounts offered by the CSA, are the new financial incentives that could streamline and aggregate the otherwise fragmented home technology market. The Rocket Fund grant will develop the employee- and employer-facing user experience of the minimum commercial product through a combination of web application design mock-ups (primary use), design for onboarding collateral, and creation of a database for vendors. The company plans on an initial demonstration with Stanford University as partner.
- Takachar Ltd. Takachar develops small-scale, low-cost, portable systems based on novel thermochemistry that can latch onto the back of tractors and pick-up trucks to deploy to remote, hard-to-access communities to process forest or agricultural residues on site into customizable higher-value bioproducts such as biofuels, chemicals, or carbon-negative fertilizer blends, without needing external energy inputs. Takachar has already tested the system with 5,500 customers in Kenya, and is looking to partner with agricultural growers in California interested in an alternative source for expensive fertilizers that are trucked in from big suppliers. The Rocket Fund grant will be used to design, iterate, and test a field-scale portable prototype and its subcomponents for demonstration in California's Mendocino County. After the grant period, the portable prototype will then be subsequently moved to other sites and customers for further demonstration.
- Xtelligent Xtelligent deploys a software platform, based on algorithms developed at MIT/USC and integrating key sensor information, for managing urban traffic movement more effectively. Xtelligent's Cooperative Intelligent Transportation System (C-ITS) approach has demonstrated a potential for 50%+ in road network capacity improvement at 20x cost reduction compared to current state-of-the-art technologies. The company's main advantage will be a novel distributed/decentralized approach to network control while utilizing innovative data streams. Key next steps facilitated by a Rocket Fund grant, will be to demonstrate the power of integrating connected vehicles from OEM partners onto the CAV/C-ITS platform with the goal of optimizing mobility and freight movement along a prime transportation corridor in the City of Long Beach, California.