Boulder-based Cool Energy awaits its big break

Associated Press Modified: October 7, 2012 at 11:30 am •  Published: October 7, 2012
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DENVER (AP) — After years of research and development, Boulder-based Cool Energy Inc. is waiting to hear if it has landed its first major customer for its Stirling engines that turn heat into electricity.

Schneider Electric is testing Cool Energy's technology before deciding whether it will incorporate it in its program to provide affordable, reliable, cleaner power for people around the world without access to electricity.

Cool Energy's technology can use heat such as solar thermal energy or waste heat put out by power generators to create electricity at temperatures of around 200 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, which is far lower than other Stirling engines.

While Cool Energy does have some revenue and early adopters of what it offers, it hopes testing goes well enough that Schneider Electric could become its most significant account to date after about six years in business.

Cool Energy isn't profitable yet and is at the stage where it needs capital to grow and produce at high volumes so it can further bring prices down, CEO Sam Weaver said.

"We're at the stage that they call the valley of death," Weaver said.

Weaver and his family have invested about $3 million in the company, an outside investor has contributed $1 million, and government grants and subcontracts have awarded the company almost $2 million more.

Supporting Schneider in distributing products to India or Africa could require the 10-employee company to add 30 employees in the next couple of years, Weaver estimated.

Schneider Electric didn't respond to a request for comment. The testing could take months, Weaver said.

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Catherine Tsai is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctsai_denver


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