March 23, 2006 4:00 AM PST

The next big thing in clean tech?

SAN FRANCISCO--Airplanes, skyscrapers and cars are all going to need better sunglasses, according to John Petraglia, CEO of SPD Control Systems.

Smart Glass, which will be shown off and discussed more fully in about eight weeks, is industrial glass that turns dark in bright sun and becomes clear when it gets dark. By keeping out (or letting in) sunlight selectively, companies can cut their building electricity bills by up to 20 percent because of reduced heating and air conditioning costs, Petraglia said.

Companies such as Hitachi and Leminur will produce the glass, which is coated with a special emulsion, while SPD Control Systems will make the controllers that switch the tint. Another company, Research Frontiers, owns the patents on Smart Glass and licenses the technology to SPD, Hitachi and others.

"Smart Glass changes color from clear to opaque and all shades in between, and in a second or two," Petraglia said during a presentation at the Cleantech Venture Forum taking place here this week. Aircraft corporations are also interested in Smart Glass as a way to increase passenger comfort.

The three-day conference has become one of the major stops for start-ups trying to capitalize on the young but growing interest in clean technology and energy efficiency. Across town, energy is one of the dominant themes at the Dow Jones VentureOne Summit.

Nearly 140 venture firms are raising funds for so-called clean-tech investing, according to Nick Parker, chairman of the Cleantech Venture Network, which sponsors the Cleantech Venture Forum. In 2004, more processed silicon got consumed in making solar panels than semiconductors, he added.

"A broader concentration on clean tech will be necessary if we are going to have sustainable societies," he said. "Clean-tech VC is increasingly a substitute for corporate R&D."

A yawning gap remains between the promise of many start-ups and reality. Many of the companies presenting at the Cleantech Forum have achieved a few million in revenue at most, but some assert sales will rise to more than $100 million by 2009. Corporations like Philips and General Electric also make products for energy efficiency.

Still, the enthusiasm is tough to miss. Here are some of the companies and their pitches from the Cleantech Forum so far:

• ClearFuels Technology: The vegetable alcohol for ethanol now mostly comes from fermentation. Hawaii's ClearFuels, by contrast, takes ground and dried biomass and turns it into synthetic gas, which is then converted to ethanol that can be mixed with gas. Shell and ExxonMobil want to deploy a similar process to convert natural gas to vehicle fuel for polluted megacities.

"There's enough virgin biomass that you don't need to go to things like municipal waste," which can cost more to process, said ClearFuels CFO Eric Darmstaedter.

"A broader concentration on clean tech will be necessary if we are going to have sustainable societies."
--Nick Parker, chairman, Cleantech Venture Network

The company can turn a ton of biomass into 200 gallons of fuel, better than the 100 gallons of fuel by the conventional methods, according to Darmstaedter. The synthetic gas produced in the process can be used to run the plant. The higher yields mean that the ethanol from the process costs 75 cents to 90 cents, less than the $1.10 cost of a gallon of traditional ethanol.

• Extengine Transport Systems: The Fullerton, Calif.-based company produces a unit that attaches to the exhaust system of diesel trucks and buses and converts the nitrogen/oxygen gases in the exhaust that contribute to global warming into nitrogen and water vapor. It does this by mixing in ammonia.

So far, it has sold $1.2 million worth of its Adec I converters and just came out with the Adec II, which plugs in easier. The market is being driven by the fact that many states have begun to impose stricter emission standards and in tandem have offered subsidies for retiring or retrofitting old vehicles. Retrofitting, says Extengine President Philip Roberts, is cheaper.

"Diesel engines last forever," he said.

• Ice Energy: Did you ever stick your head into the freezer on a summer day and inhale the cool vapor? That's Ice Energy in a nutshell. The company's Ice Bear 50 system makes ice in large quantities, keeps it in an insulated copper tub, and then delivers the cool air during the hot afternoon hours, when electricity costs the most.

"Fifty percent of peak power is consumed by roof air conditioners," said Ice Energy CEO Frank Ramirez.

Customers who have installed the system, including big-box retailers like Petco, have seen overall energy bills decline by 15 percent, he said. Ramirez, however, did not fully explain how the company could keep away large, established competitors. Revenue over the last 12 months came to $1.75 million, but he said it would grow to $110 million by 2008.

CONTINUED: Cutting solar panel costs…
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18 comments

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Why the most promising company is not listed?
Where is Changing World Technologies, Inc. in this story? They are the most promising company that can deliver on cleaning up the environment(municipal waste) and at the same time provide clean byproducts such as crude oil, minerals, etc. And this is not a theory. Several pilot plants are operational and running. By the way the plants are self-sufficient, make profit and do not pollute. And, no I do not work for this company. Just very interested in their work which I think is the solution to our dependency on oil and our environmental problems. If only our representatives in the govt. would do something to help out with this promising technology.
For more info check out their site.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.changingworldtech.com/index.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.changingworldtech.com/index.asp</a>

Thank you for your time.
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why the most promising company is not listed?
Where is Changing World Technologies, Inc. in this story? They are the most promising company that can deliver on cleaning up the environment(municipal waste) and at the same time provide clean byproducts such as crude oil, minerals, etc. And this is not a theory. Several pilot plants are operational and running. By the way the plants are self-sufficient, make profit and do not pollute. And, no I do not work for this company. Just very interested in their work which I think is the solution to our dependency on oil and our environmental problems. If only our representatives in the govt. would do something to help out with this promising technology.
For more info check out their site.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.changingworldtech.com/index.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.changingworldtech.com/index.asp</a>

Thank you for your time.
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good ideas
I think all are good ideas but I don't necessarily agree with Clearfuels and how to not go to Municipal Waste. Waste is toxic or harmful and needs to be eliminated. It would be nice to have a company try to tackle on waste by-products as well so that we can have less of it.

Especially now that we have over 5 billion people in this world let alone corporations producing their fair share of waste.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Munipal Waste question answered
Refer to first post by Don Darko...
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
Good ideas
I think all are good ideas but I don't necessarily agree with Clearfuels and how to not go to Municipal Waste. Waste is toxic or harmful and needs to be eliminated. It would be nice to have a company try to tackle on waste by-products as well so that we can have less of it.

Especially now that we have over 5 billion people in this world let alone corporations producing their fair share of waste.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Munipal Waste question answered
Refer to first post by Don Darko...
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
Light sensitive glass won't be...
... truly efficient until researchers can figure out how to make it whiter (to reflect heat) instead of darker.
Posted by peteraltschuler (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Light sensitive glass won't be...
... truly efficient until researchers can figure out how to make it whiter (to reflect heat) instead of darker.
Posted by peteraltschuler (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
so much for that window office...
I guess this will also cut down on the braggin rights for having an office or work desk with a window view. Neat.
Posted by 209979377489953107664053243186 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
so much for that window office...
I guess this will also cut down on the braggin rights for having an office or work desk with a window view. Neat.
Posted by 209979377489953107664053243186 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
do windows turn dark or do they reflect?
It don't see how window glass "turning dark" will save energy costs. Maybe they mean "turning reflective?" On a hot summer day with the sun shining brightly on a window and with the AC cooling the room, a dark window will absorb sunlight and heat up and then that heat will prefer to go into the cool room rather than the hot outside. Maybe the window darkens in the visible but reflects in the IR?
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
do windows turn dark or do they reflect?
It don't see how window glass "turning dark" will save energy costs. Maybe they mean "turning reflective?" On a hot summer day with the sun shining brightly on a window and with the AC cooling the room, a dark window will absorb sunlight and heat up and then that heat will prefer to go into the cool room rather than the hot outside. Maybe the window darkens in the visible but reflects in the IR?
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Now or Never
It is good to hear all these developments. I have been watching the developments in solar technologies from my college days, but a big leap is what the industry requires. It was a nice article.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.buckleupnow.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.buckleupnow.com</a>
Posted by itispals (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Now or Never
It is good to hear all these developments. I have been watching the developments in solar technologies from my college days, but a big leap is what the industry requires. It was a nice article.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.buckleupnow.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.buckleupnow.com</a>
Posted by itispals (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
10 years old technology
The Smart Glass is a direct copy of a technology has existed for the past 10 years and has already been applied to prescription eyeglasses; better known as Transition Lenses.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.transitions.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.transitions.com</a>

Its a chemical coating heated onto a glass or plastic surface. The chemical is sensitive to UV(Ultra Violet) radiation, and turns dark when UV light is applied which makes glass appear to turn dark. For those who don't know, sunlight has UV light in it.
The technology is in its 5th iteration. Each iteration involves making the chemical more absorbant or sensitive to UV light so it turns darker or transparent faster. I don't know anything about if it reflects any light out.

I own 3 pairs of prescription eyeglasses for the past 11 years. They don't work while driving in the car because the windshield absorbs most of the UV light. Too bad the none of the car windows have this technology applied onto the glass. I can image the price for this on a car window is going to be in the thousands when it first comes out. Just a pair of prescription eyeglasses with the coating cost $112 right now.
Posted by shortyness (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
10 years old technology
The Smart Glass is a direct copy of a technology has existed for the past 10 years and has already been applied to prescription eyeglasses; better known as Transition Lenses.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.transitions.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.transitions.com</a>

Its a chemical coating heated onto a glass or plastic surface. The chemical is sensitive to UV(Ultra Violet) radiation, and turns dark when UV light is applied which makes glass appear to turn dark. For those who don't know, sunlight has UV light in it.
The technology is in its 5th iteration. Each iteration involves making the chemical more absorbant or sensitive to UV light so it turns darker or transparent faster. I don't know anything about if it reflects any light out.

I own 3 pairs of prescription eyeglasses for the past 11 years. They don't work while driving in the car because the windshield absorbs most of the UV light. Too bad the none of the car windows have this technology applied onto the glass. I can image the price for this on a car window is going to be in the thousands when it first comes out. Just a pair of prescription eyeglasses with the coating cost $112 right now.
Posted by shortyness (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL
FIRST I HAVE BEEN WEARING GLASSES MOST OF MY LIFE, AND FOR MOST OF THAT TIME THEY HAVE DARKEN IN BRIGHT LIGHT AND CLEARED IN DIM LIGHT. SEEMS TO ME THIS TECH HAS BEEN AROUND MORE THEN A LITTLE WHILE AND IS ONLY NOW PRESENTED FOR LARGE SCALE USE FOR THE $$$ POTENTIAL. YOU SHOULD ALL DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND CHECK OUT THE NEXT TRUE 'GREEN GLASS'. MADE IN CAL. BY XSNX.OB CALLED POWER GLASS. THIS IS ALSO A CHEAP STOCK THAT SHOULD TAKE OFF SHORTLY.
Posted by GUESSAGAIN (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL
FIRST I HAVE BEEN WEARING GLASSES MOST OF MY LIFE, AND FOR MOST OF THAT TIME THEY HAVE DARKEN IN BRIGHT LIGHT AND CLEARED IN DIM LIGHT. SEEMS TO ME THIS TECH HAS BEEN AROUND MORE THEN A LITTLE WHILE AND IS ONLY NOW PRESENTED FOR LARGE SCALE USE FOR THE $$$ POTENTIAL. YOU SHOULD ALL DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND CHECK OUT THE NEXT TRUE 'GREEN GLASS'. MADE IN CAL. BY XSNX.OB CALLED POWER GLASS. THIS IS ALSO A CHEAP STOCK THAT SHOULD TAKE OFF SHORTLY.
Posted by GUESSAGAIN (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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