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Idaho Symposium Presenters

Posted by John Martin at Tue Feb 14 17:30:00 +0000 2012

Dynamis Energy, Meridian

IVUS Energy Innovations, Moscow

Inovus Solar, Boise

Power Engineers, Hailey

US Geothermal, Boise

FDJ Engineering, Boise

Site Based Energy, Hailey

Critigen, Boise

SmartDwell, Boise


Dynamis Energy of suburban Boise has an impressive story about a more complete combustion of rubbish than “incineration”, which CEO Lloyd Mahaffey considers versions 1 and 2 of W2E.

Dynamis’s alleged “version 3” is what they describe as a starved air gasification process, which thermally converts waste products into a combustible gas, actively mitigating many potential emissions. With additional thermal recovery equipment, they can generate power in multiples of 5, 10, or 20 megawatts of electricity for small communities. They claim they can document a wider spectrum of municipal solid waste types successfully consumed than any other process in the world, including TIRES, auto "fluff", and medical waste, each one a huge civic challenge.

One of the clever developments of Dynamis is a highly modular design which, in addition to bespoke built-in-place systems, has been ‘miniaturized’ into a version that fits within a standard ocean-shipping container, the so-called Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit or TEU. This allows the gasification unit to, among other things, be trucked or shipped around as a gypsy garbage disposal, hot water generation and power creation for remote missions, rural farm communities and small islands.

Ultracapacitors and Total System Design-----------

IVUS Energy Innovations had its genesis in engineering students brainstorming at the University of Idaho, and remains headquartered and growing in Moscow. The core element is the ultracapacitor - an energy storage module analogous to “batteries” but with very different characteristics. It’s key attractant is the ability to recharge in seconds rather than hours. But they tend to store less total energy and have unsteady voltage through discharge.

IVUS’s clever twist was this: instead of trying to contort an ultracapacitor to be more like a battery, they took a total-system-design approach to a routine product/usage scenario (the flashlight) to adapt it to ultracapacitors’s strengths and weaknesses.

They took high-efficiency LEDs to avoid needing the gross energy reserve of regular batteries. And they designed circuitry to offset the voltage drop. With a standard flashlight, one would need three-dozen-or-more ultracaps to provide the end-usage-service of 1 battery. The re-imagined IVUS system had an ultracap ratio of only 3:1 compared to regular batteries in a regular flashlight. That put them within field-goal range because one can tolerate a lower endurance time if re-charging can be accomplished in mere-minutes (while making a cup of coffee or draining the last one) so the customer usage-impression would be one of perpetual availability.

They also aimed at the public safety market which would put a premium value the near-perpetual availability and fast turnaround, vs. the price-sensitive consumer market. And their go-to-market decision was to license a public-safety specialty vendor rather than be an OEM.

Convergent System for Solar Lighting------------------

Inovus Solar sells solar-powered street-lights, allowing roadway illumination to go off-grid where desirable or urgently necessary. As with IVUS (unrelated despite the commonality of spelling), their strength is leveraging a series of capabilities unavailable just a few years ago

● the increased efficiency of thin-film photovoltaics (allowing vertical pole-mounting)

● the increased efficiency of batteries, allowing sufficient energy to be stored within the pole

● the increased efficiency of LED lighting, requiring less storage and less sun conversion per lumen

Strength in Engineering Service Firms-----------

Power Engineers is an international leader in industrial control systems, power grid and geothermal engineering with engineering centers all over the nation and based near Sun Valley in the center of the State. They have recently enjoyed dramatic growth, entering the top-100 of all engineering firms only in 2006 and now on the cusp of entering the top-50 this year or next.

US Geothermal is a full-fledged developer and utility, designing, building and operating geothermal projects that sell wholesale power in s. Idaho, e. Oregon and n. Nevada

FDJ Engineering’s practice includes a wide range of built-environment efficiency evaluation, monitoring and design services.

Site Based Energy, founded by some original partners at Power Engineers, and also based near Sun Valley, who I shall roughly and incompletely describe as “the McKinstry of agriculture”, focusing on efficiency engineering for agricultural operations, not only in Idaho, but increasingly nationwide and around the world, as well as commercial and urban projects.

Critigen is a former division of CH2MHill which develops ‘smart’ information systems for water and geological processing facilities

Green Buildings and Smart Grid-----------

Two good pitches, showing Idaho is right in the thick of smart building developments. The University of Idaho has their building design lab in the city of Boise (link). Lab Director Kevin van den Wymelenberg spoke on their research into the holy grail of intelligent energy management toolsets and user interfaces, sensors meshes and the rest, and their practical collaborations with architects and building owner-developers throughout the intermountain West regarding development of metering-monitoring-telemetry schemas for more efficient, lower cost, healthier buildings in line with the milestones of the Architecture 2030 carbon-neutral built-environment challenge program.

Then, Steve Taylor of brand-new Boise start-up SMARTdwell discussed a very clever variation of the ubiquitous “energy dashboard”, a type of residential extension of the work Kevin’s U-of-I lab is doing for commercial buidlings. SMARTdwell intends to provide in an iPad-like format, a complete “owner’s manuals” for homes. Most people, when they buy a house, are intimately familiar with the marble and granite finishes in the powder room, but could not tell you where the water cut-off, furnace filters or circuit breakers are to save their lives (which such knowledge often can !)

Conversely, every car, tractor, flat-screen monitor and washer/dryer come with a complete illustrated “owner’s manual”. Why not the house (or building) itself?

SMARTdwell’s idea is to combine basic diagrams, fact sheets and FAQs with energy audits, reports, variable pricing, green-ness of energy inputs, calculators, links, and instructional media in a manner that would pull together in a single UI the equivalent of existing paper instruction manuals, one dimensional energy calculators, single featured appliances and home area networks.


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