An Aggie is helping lead the way in technology to increase the efficiency of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
Lance Brockway, Class of 2009 and 2014, earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M. He’s now the chief technology officer at Nelumbo, an advanced materials platform focused on developing improved cooling methods. The company got its start as a project in the University of California at Berkeley’s product development lab, Cyclotron Road. With support from investors, Nelumbo recently opened a plant in Hayward, California, where they will expand their operation.
Brockway said there is a key advantage which helps them stand apart from other technology for heating and cooling.
“Our big differentiator is we can improve the energy performance and minimize corrosion in a single platform,” Brockway said. “Our initial target is air conditioning, but some of the value we also provide is in mitigating icing on outdoor units as well as in refrigeration.”
David Walther, senior vice president of engineering, said the team is working directly with manufacturers of individual refrigeration components to put Nelumbo’s product into these components.
“The end customer never directly sees our materials,” Walther said. “They’re sort of embedded into the materials at the production plant. From the customer perspective, the components look effectively similar or substantially similar to the current products.”
Sebastien Lounis, co-founder and managing director of communications at Cyclotron Road said rather than just developing something as an interesting laboratory product, he believes there must be an understanding of the product’s practical applications.
“I think one of the areas that ... is really important to Nelumbo and to the system they developed, or to the coating they developed, is understanding how that new type of coating can be manufactured at very large scale for industrial applications in a way that is economical,” Lounis said.
For now, Brockway said they are working on anti-corrosion methods to produce longer-lasting systems to customers.
“Our primary driver right now is anti-corrosion and corrosion mitigation,” Brockway said. “We can make the heat exchangers inside of the air conditioning systems last longer, which provides values to both our partners and the end customers.”
Nelumbo was a part of the Cyclotron Road Activate annual forum on Sept. 26, where the team was able to successfully showcase their work to government officials, investors, engineers, scientists and others.
“All the entrepreneurs of the companies have small booths and tables where we’re able to connect and reconnect with folks that we’ve interacted with or that want to learn more about the technology and the company,” Walther said.
Following their move into the new facility, Brockway said Nelumbo is excited to expand their team and distribute their product on a larger scale.
“We just moved into a much larger facility that’s about 8,000 square feet and we’re looking to take our product to market,” Brockway said.