Commercializing Emerging Energy Technologies - Bob Hebner
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Commercializing Emerging Energy Technologies - Bob Hebner Presentation Transcript

  • 1. BOB HEBNER, PH.D. DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ELECTROMECHANICS UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN Commercializing Emerging Energy Technologies
  • 2. Aim of Discussion
    • At the end of the session
      • Unlikely to be a better investor
      • Might be a better voter
    • Focus on
      • What works in government-funded technology policy with some insight into today’s domestic industry
    • Focus on energy, not medicine
  • 3. History of Technology Policy in One Chart
    • Before WWII
      • I wasn’t born yet, but…
    • WWII – 1980’s
      • Vannevar Bush – Science, the Endless Frontier
      • Truman
      • Bell Labs, GE & Westinghouse R&D, etc.
    • 1980’s – 2000
      • Japan showed a different way
      • U.S. corporations followed, intelligently
      • U.S. government worried about “picking winners and losers” and “corporate welfare”
        • Exceptions – medicine, agriculture, coal mining
    • 2000 – 2010
      • Lots of experiments, no consensus on policy
  • 4. Texas Is a Player
    • Emerging Technology Fund
    • Cancer Prevention and Research Institute
    • Some university funding
  • 5. Why Me?
    • Accident
      • Worked at NIST on technology important to commerce and export control
        • Primarily electricity
      • Bush I Administration appointed me to OMB to find investments to minimize global warming risk
        • Cost-effectiveness was a challenge
      • Back at NIST oversaw review of NIH’s proposed changes to technology transfer laws
      • Helped establish and was responsible for Advanced Technology Program
      • Responsible for Manufacturing Extension Program and Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program
      • AT UT, retail side
        • Trying to get three energy products to market every five years
  • 6. University of Texas Technology Examples
  • 7.
    • Fission – Fusion Hybrid
      • Nearly no radioactive waste
    • Fusion used to produce
      • neutrons
      • Sustain fission reaction
      • Transmute radioactive
      • material
    • Poor candidate for
    • commercial funding
      • Risk ~ $100 million to prove
        • concept prior to cash flow
      • Feds told power industry
      • – you build power plants, we’ll handle waste
    • Poor candidate for Federal funding
      • - Organizational barriers
    Nuclear Power
  • 8. National Priorities
    • U.S. health cost greater than $6 billion/day
    • War in Afghanistan costs about $130 million/day
    • Venture capital investment in promising new ideas about $3 million (about $5,000/day)
    • Venture investment in proven ideas about $30 million (about $50,000/day)
    • Federal investment in promising energy science ideas about $0.25 million (about $400/day)
    • Federal investment in major r&d programs about $50 million (about $30,000/day)
    Depending on political persuasion this may be too much, too little, about right, or irrelevant
  • 9. Energy Storage
    • Developed and/or evaluated storage systems for cranes, ships, wind farms, vehicles from trucks to Formula 1, and grid stabilization
    • UT develops
      • Flywheels
      • Batteries
      • Ultracapacitors
      • Compressed Gas
    VG 12983h
    • Commercialization
      • Efforts continuing
      • Flywheels
        • Export laws a challenge
      • Batteries – fame, litigation, and
      • new ideas
  • 10. Algal Biofuel
    • The interest in algal oil is not new, though the widespread interest in making biofuels from algal oil is more recent
    • Algae contain anywhere between 2% and 40% of lipids(oils) by weight
    • The yields of oil from algae are orders of magnitude higher than those for traditional oilseeds
    • Algae can grow in places unsuitable for use as farmlands, prairies and forests, thus potentially providing a much needed source of fuel without damage to the ecosystem
  • 11. The Problem--$$$
    • Algae oil production costs
      • Present cost to produce 1 gallon of algae oil—$20-30/gal
      • Future cost goal—$1-3/gal
    • Issues…production scale-up & cost reduction
      • Strain selection--oil yield, growth rates, stability
      • Production systems—ponds or photobioreactors
      • CO 2 source
      • Harvesting
      • Oil Extraction
      • Capital costs
      • Energy & water usage
  • 12.
    • Oil producing algae growth capability up to 2,500 gal
    • Dewatering process demonstrated at 5000 gal/day
    • Flow-through EM lysing apparatus built; used to process dewatered algae.
    • Novel version of commercial separation process demonstrated
    • Mass and energy balance performed on integrated system of processes
    • Mobile extraction pilot plant design in-progress
    Commercialization Moving Forward
  • 13. Commercialization Approach
    • Apply for all available Federal funding
    • Focus on processing, not algae engineering
    • Team early with private investors
      • OpenAlgae formed
        • Unique experiment
        • Personal education
    • Learn from the failures of others
    • First two possible customers offshore
      • Help U.S. balance of payments
      • Rather solve problems closer to home
    • First system $6 million away
  • 14. Motors and Generators
    • Advanced motors for hybrids
    • Superconducting motors
    • DC generator design
    • High speed motors and generators
  • 15. Things to Worry About
    • U.S. is not as good at commercializing technology as we need to be
      • Competitors were hungry and understood new roles faster
    • Government programs need independent impact assessment both
      • Prospective
        • Typically 100x
      • Retrospective
        • Typically 4x
    • Peer review works to eliminate bad ideas, not choose the highest commercial potential
    • Elected officials should only review programs and/or add earmarks, not choose projects
  • 16. Things to Be Happy About
    • We’re falling behind, but not out of the race
      • The world still comes to the U.S. for much base technology
        • Taking advantage of U.S. widening the Valley of Death
    • Places like UT still attract folks who hope, plan, and expect to make a positive difference