Posted: October 01, 2011
Progress report: A look at last year’s Cleantech winners
Firms look beyond innovation to market share, mainstream acceptance
A year after several companies won awards from the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association, we caught up with them to see what progress they've made and what challenges they still face.
Fort Collins-based VanDyne SuperTurbo Inc. won the Emerging Cleantech Company of the Year award. Emerging is the right word, says Ed VanDyne, chief executive officer. "We are still pretty early in the venture," he says.
The emerging technology is a SuperTurbocharger, designed to increase the efficiency of a car or heavy truck engine by integrating a transmission and a turbocharger. The device recovers waste heat that is added to engine power. It's not an engine, VanDyne says, but something that goes on an engine.
Over the past year VanDyne SuperTurbo has applied for four more patents. The company also has completed Phase I of the U.S. Army Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program. In Phase II the company will deliver a prototype of the large SuperTurbo for testing at the Army Tank and Automotive Command Center in 2012. The company also won a National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I award, and a Department of Energy grant called "Super Truck" as a subcontractor to Cummins, an engine company based in Columbus, Ind. Also, VanDyne SuperTurbo has raised $7 million toward its goal of raising $10 million in venture capital.
The company, which has 12 full-time employees plus three consultants, is producing one SuperTurbocharger at a time for automotive and heavy-duty engine customers. VanDyne hopes to get the technology into production in low volume in two years, and in high volume four years from now. The automotive industry is a mature industry, VanDyne explains, so it doesn't adopt new technology lightly.
"It's disruptive technology," he says. "It may take 10 years, but it will revolutionize the industry."
Abound Solar was the High Impact Cleantech Company of the Year. The company manufactures thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules for commercial and utility scale installations. Abound's administrative offices are in Loveland, and the manufacturing facility is in Longmont.
Last year Abound won a $400 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to fund the expansion of the company's manufacturing capacity in Colorado, and to build a second manufacturing plant in Tipton, Ind. The new facility is scheduled to be operational in 2014.
Many of Abound's photovoltaic modules will be installed overseas. Through a $9.2 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Abound will export solar modules to Punj Lloyd Solar Power Ltd., for construction of a five-