TM System, in which an advanced electricity generation unit with a marketing name of the
SolarHeartTM Engine is used in conjunction with rooftop solar heat collectors to supply clean, cost-effective heat and grid-connected electricity to homes and small commercial buildings. This SolarHeart Engine electricity generator is the core technology advance developed by CEI; its function in the SolarFlow System is to generate electricity from the heat that is collected by the solar thermal collectors, delivered into the circulating heat transfer fluid (HTF), and circulated through the engine. The SolarHeart Engine can also be used to produce electricity from other mid-temperature (100-300°C) heat sources,including geothermal heat and industrial waste heat flows.
The SolarFlow System gathers solar heat energy at very high collection efficiencies, and the
heat is then used to provide the majority of the space heating, water heating and electricity
needs of a home or small building. The thermal storage tank integrated with the SolarFlow
System provides operating versatility, as heat can be delivered and electricity can be produced
well into the night or during cloudy conditions that limit energy generation from other solar
energy systems, including solar PV.
SolarHeart TM Stirling engine. The valves in the system are controlled by the SolarSmart Controller
TM to deliver the energy to the sub-system(s) that maximize customer value.
In the SolarFlowTM System, grid-connected electricity generation and heat delivery is digitally controlled by the system’s SolarSmart ControllerTM, which can operate according to a user-configurable program or can receive signals from smart electrical grids that allow it to maximize customer savings. In the winter, the heat gathered by the solar thermal collectors and stored in the HTF is used mainly to heat the home. In the summer, when the collected solar heat is far in excess of the building thermal energy needs, the heat is converted to electricity by the SolarHeart Engine. In the transition seasons of spring and fall, the SolarSmart Controller allocates heat where it is most economical: home heating, water heating, thermal storage, or electricity production. The simple thermal storage tank, filled with HTF and useful during all seasons, provides flexibility for the controller to direct the system to produce the most beneficial form of energy at the optimal time. By fulfilling the need for both thermal and electrical energy from a single system, the SolarFlow System
produces much more customer value than other clean energy options.
The SolarFlow System will annually provide 85% of the space and water heating, and 60% of
the electricity needs of a home or small commercial building. Grid-connected electricity
generation is digitally controlled and can take signals from smart electrical grids that allow it
to maximize customer savings. Direct customer payback times are projected to be less than
half that of solar PV technologies installed at $6/Watt-peak.
Further, the SolarFlow System enables distributed power production in areas where grid
connection is not feasible, or is cost prohibitive to install. Finally, the modular nature of the
SolarHeart Engine provides the capability of using it with other low-mid temperature heat
sources such as geothermal or lower temperature waste heat from existing industrial systems;
much of which at present is not used and therefore wasted as a relatively free and abundant
The solar energy equipment industry is currently growing rapidly in all sectors: small-scale
distributed energy systems, industrial and community scale systems, and central station
generating facilities. In the long run, Cool Energy intends to address all three markets, but the
focus for initial commercialization is small-scale heating and grid-connected electricity
generation. This market segment was selected because of the relatively low barriers to entry: a
large population of early adopters, a willingness to accept medium-term economic payback (as
demonstrated by residential solar PV economics), and a growing market for clean energy systems.
Commercial offerings to this initial segment will be of two types: 1)
SolarFlowTM System packages, which will include the SolarHeart Engine, the SolarSmart Controller, solar thermal collectors, a storage tank, and all plumbing components; and 2) SolarHeartTM Engine kits,which will include only the SolarHeart Engine and the SolarSmart Controller for certified installers to integrate with a selected mid-temperature heat source in a home or building. The CEI product roadmap includes increasingly higher-power engine designs for larger solar, geothermal and waste heat applications in commercial buildings and industrial settings, eventually to include utility generation applications with further advanced higher-efficiency engine designs.
Because nearly all Americans use electricity and heating fuels in their homes and the buildings in which they work, the economic and practical value of the SolarFlow System is multi-fold: 1) heating fuels and their associated rapidly rising costs are displaced; 2) electricity generated from fossil fuels is replaced when the capacity of the system to generate heat is not fully needed; and 3) the system’s storage capacity and control system allow for heat delivery and/or electricity production when other current renewable energy systems are otherwise limited.
Target customers for the SolarFlow System are owners of homes or commercial buildings in cold
and reasonably sunny regions of the country, and in particular those burdened with relatively
higher heating and electricity costs. The Northeastern U.S. is the ideal target domestic market for
these reasons as they depend on expensive fuel oil and propane for much of their heating needs.
Eastern portions of this region have a reasonably high rate of year-round solar insolation, public
perception notwithstanding. Other initial target domestic markets are the mid-Atlantic states and
Northern California, to be followed by the Rocky Mountain, Northwest and Midwest regions
because of the relatively hight customer economic benefit. International target markets include
middle and Northern European nations, Japan, and other cold weather regions where sensitivities
to cost are among the lowest and rates of adoption of solar energy projects among the highest.
Due to its ability to offset both heating and electricity costs, direct customer payback times from a
SolarFlow System installation are projected to be 7-15 years in volume production, less than half
that of solar PV systems. A comprehensive analysis of the cost benefit of using a SolarFlow
System in various regions of the US has been conducted, and is set forth in Table 1. The heating
and electricity costs avoided by use of a SolarFlow System are compared with the costs avoided
with a PV system where only electricity costs are displaced. The analysis was conducted by
employing an hour-by-hour system performance model that includes received solar radiation,
home heating loads and losses for a large home, and ambient temperature data to calculate the
reduction in heating fuel and electricity costs realized by use of the SolarFlow System in that
region, and similarly reducing the electricity costs avoided in the same region with a PV system.
All energy cost data are from the Energy Information Administration, solar and weather data are
from the Department of Energy, costs of the SolarFlow System are based on current costs of the
purchased components, and SolarHeart Engine cost projections are shown in the finance and
revenue section below.
Societal and Non-Commercial Benefits:
Energy production has become an integral and important part of all industrial societies. Heat engines have long been used to produce mechanical and electrical power, typically from high-temperature heat sources such as hydrocarbon combustion, nuclear fission, or nuclear radioactive decay. A problem with nearly all current systems used to generate energy is that they result in by-products which
negatively affect the surroundings and often the health and well-being of people. Thus, it has
become increasingly evident that the need for cleaner and less damaging sources of energy is
paramount. Renewable energy systems adopted at a significant rate have the potential to
eliminate these problems. The SolarFlow System for combined heat and power generation
provides pollution free heat and electrical power that can be tied into existing electrical utility
grids, or can be operated on a distributed basis which is of particular significance to developing or remote regions without current access to utility power lines.
Cool Energy intends to manufacture and distribute SolarHeart Engines and SolarSmart Controllers in the first phase of commercialization with the goal of achieving maximum penetration of renewable energy systems through a profitable business. The long background in successful component and machine manufacturing by Dr. Sam C. Weaver will be particularly applicable in guiding this transition. Licensing the SolarHeart Engine and the SolarSmart Controller to others companies for their own manufacturing and distribution will also be pursued at competitive royalty rates, particularly when initially targeting overseas markets. CEI manufacturing operations will initially be located in the United States, and may remain in the US even through high volume production depending on US wages, overseas shipping costs, and the cost of raw materials. It is expected that assembly of pilot units will be completed in Boulder, Colorado and after the process and design are fully established,
manufacturing will be transferred to the Southeast or Midwest regions of the US. An established energy systems corporation will be actively sought by CEI for a manufacturing and distribution partner as the preferred means for greatest penetration of the SolarFlow System in the worldwide market. It is conceivable that entering non-exclusive OEM licensing arrangement through multiple energy systems companies could also achieve this desired impact.
Should CEI initially choose to manufacture the products without a partner corporation, both
internal operations and contract manufacturing arrangements will be considered. Sales and
distribution of the SolarFlow System and SolarHeart Engine will be through both direct and
indirect channels. The indirect channels will comprise sales to solar and energy systems
distributors such as GroSolar, SunWize and Next Generation Energy, who in turn supply solar
thermal systems installers, green builders, HVAC installers, plumbers, and home developers.
With widespread adoption, customers in this channel may also eventually include solar PV
systems installers. Another indirect sales channel will be through retail home improvement
stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot to supply DIY installations. Direct sales will be to
customers that can purchase large single shipments or commit to an ongoing purchasing
arrangement that meets annual quotas. Examples of these customers include production
homebuilders such as Pulte Homes and KB Homes, and smaller green developers doing a
single large project. Pricing to distributors and direct purchasers will be on the same pricing
schedule based on volume.
Sales offerings will include the SolarFlowTM System package, complete with solar thermal
collectors, the SolarSmart ControllerTM, a storage tank, and associated plumbing components; or alternatively will include only the SolarHeartTM Engine component of the system with the
SolarSmart Controller for certified installers or individual enthusiasts to integrate with a selected mid-temperature heat source at a home or building. Cool Energy will host a certification program so that national and international distributors and installers may be certified on system installation, which will serve to activate the product warranty.
This approach to quality control through indirect distribution channels is modeled on the program implemented by Sharp Electronics for their solar PV product installers.
Marketing activities will include attending numerous green building, HVAC, energy, and
renewable energy conferences and advertising in business and trade journals to introduce the
product and to educate consumers on the benefits of this convenient, affordable, zeroemission,
single system with an attractive return on investment. Trade shows being considered include Solar Power 2009, National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Conference, Green Build International, and the ASHRAE Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Expo. Other forms of targeted marketing will include outreach by direct mail and email to regional green builders, plumbers and HVAC installers, as well as press releases to regional and national general and business publications such as newspapers and other journals.
Cool Energy, Inc. is registered as a C corporation in the State of Tennessee. CEI is a privately held technology development and solar services company founded in March, 2006 by members of the Weaver family. The company founders were motivated by a passion to create a future in which energy is generated from abundant and environmentally sustainable sources using clean, cost-effective, reliable power systems. The founding team of Dr. Weaver and his son Samuel has a strong materials science and applied physics background, and significant commercialization experience. A decision was made to address the historically difficult and relatively lightly-researched subject area of extracting electrical energy from medium grade heat (100 - 300°C). CEI’s business strategy is to produce cost-effective thermal-to-electric energy conversion devices that take advantage of sophisticated material choices to optimize performance at temperature differentials produced by solar thermal collectors, industrial waste heat, and geothermal heat and biomass combustion.
Cool Energy currently has eight employees in management and technical positions and engages several consultants as needed for software development and engineering projects.
Its main facility is located in Boulder, Colorado. Sam C. Weaver, a founder, currently serves
as Chairman, and Samuel P. Weaver, also a founder, serves as President and CEO. The staff
is composed of two senior mechanical engineers, two additional mechanical engineers, a VP
of business development (Glenn Booth), a VP of legal and Policy Affairs (Leslie Weise) and
an office manager/accountant. Biography summaries for the employees, as well as for the
Board of Directors are included below.
The management team is headed by founder, Chief Scientist and Chairman Dr. Sam C. Weaver, who has worked in the advanced materials industry for over 40 years. Launching his first company in 1970, he has served as President and CEO of nine companies over 35 years. In 2001, Dr. Weaver completed the sale of Millenium Materials to Dyson Group PLC, and previously sold U.S. Nuclear to Eagle-Picher. The majority of the companies Dr. Weaver has overseen have been manufacturing operations, ranging from value-added advanced raw materials to automated high-temperature furnaces with digital control systems.
Dr. Weaver’s son, Samuel P. Weaver is also a founder of CEI and serves as President/CEO,
responsible for engineering management and business operations. Sam previously co-founded
Colorado Photonics, a profitable optical telecom equipment distribution business, and has led
multiple engineering development efforts with complex systems engineering requirements similar to the SolarFlow System. Sam holds a B.S. in Engineering and Applied Science from the California Institute of Technology and was appointed in 2007 to the State of Colorado Clean Energy Development Authority.
Leslie Weise is VP of Legal and Policy Affairs for CEI. Leslie has nearly twenty years of experience as an engineer and in-house lawyer for Fortune 500 technology companies such as Redback Networks, Applied Materials, Honeywell and Xerox. In addition to advanced degrees in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy and in Intellectual Property Law, her experience includes oversight of M&A activity for AlliedSignal/Honeywell and as General Counsel of NPTest, a spin-off of Schlumberger.
Glenn Booth is VP of Marketing and Business Development for CEI and most recently served as VP of Marketing for the Rajant Corporation, where he led the development and execution of the company marketing strategies and communications. Glenn has over 25 years of successful marketing, sales and engineering experience. Glenn has earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado and is a member of the American Marketing Association.
The senior engineering team is well-seasoned and diverse in experience, and includes Brian Nuel and Lee Smith, who collectively have over 40 years of mechanical and thermal systems design experience. Additionally, two junior engineers, Kevin McWilliams and Nat Farber assist the senior team through engine and system assembly and validation tests on the prototypes. Other engineering, software and design consultants are retained by the company as required for development.
Advisors for the engine and system design and development to date include: Lennart Johannsen, a Stirling engine design consultant, formerly of Phillips and STM; Professor Israel Urieli of Ohio University, a noted Stirling engine specialist; and Jefferey Hodgson, mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee.
Business Advisors: John Herrick has extensive renewable energy experience in technology,
law and policy as Chief Counsel for the DOE EERE and at one the nations’ top energy law
firms, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP.
Pavel Bouska (Advisory Board) has extensive technology and business operations experience
taking startups through IPO (Gaiam, Inc. & Corporate Express, Inc.).
Andrew Goldstein has strong experience in developing new technologies into cost effective and high quality mass producible products (ProStor Systems, Network Photonics & Medtronic Navigation).
Background of CEI’s Innovations: Several factors have growing impacts on American consumers, their pocketbooks, and their awareness of the current energy situation:
- Costs of heating fuels such as natural gas, propane and fuel oil have greatly outpaced therate of inflation over the past ten years (7-11% annual increases, with increases more than double that amount in each of the past two years).
- Space and water heating comprise about 50% of the average American’s annual total energy bill, an even higher percentage in many regions of the country, and growing rapidly.
- Awareness is increasing regarding energy issues and related national security and climate change impacts. Distributed solar energy installations have been growing rapidly,particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) for generating electricity, and solar thermal for hot water and space heat.
- Distributed solar thermal systems have high collection efficiencies (up to 75%) and cost about $1.50/Watt-peak installed, while PV systems have much lower collection efficiencies up to 20% and cost about $7.00/Watt-peak installed.
- Despite the demand for home heating that is affordable and clean, the main barrier to widely-deployed active solar thermal heating systems is their inability to use the excess heat that is generated in the non-heating season and the lack of payoff (i.e. value) of the equipment during that period.
- Widely prevalent heat sources exist in the low to mid temperature range (100-300°C) that are not being harnessed for energy production, and that are renewable and pollution free such as solar and geothermal, or are otherwise being wasted from industrial production facilities generating waste heat.