Boston native and California entrepreneur, Dr. Philip Gleckman is among the first to receive a $150,000 Concept Award from the California Clean Energy Fund’s CalSEED program, a funding initiative of the California Energy Commission.
In 2014, he founded the awarded company, Sunvapor with his wife, Sue. However, his interest in energy began way before then. In fact, he became interested in the energy sector at the University of Chicago where he received his Doctorate in Physics.
Philip remembers the paper written by A. Lovins in Foreign Affairs called “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?” which promoted "Soft Energy Paths.", as one of the sources that really ignited his curiosity to pursue solar. In his graduate program during the 80’s, no one spoke about global warming or the danger of fossil fuels the way we do today. He realized that fossil fuels would eventually disappear and we needed a solution for that; he saw the societal impact that renewable energy promised.
Prior to Sunvapor, the entrepreneur served as Chief Technology Officer at Areva and Chief Scientist at eSolar. Before leaving Areva, he realized that there were better applications for concentrated solar power than for electricity. Sunlight is already in the form of heat therefore there is a very large efficiency gain in simply converting the solar heat into another form of heat and providing that to the customer.
With this idea in mind, he went on to found Sunvapor with a view to developing commercial projects to provide solar heat at prices lower than natural gas. He realized that 54% of the world’s energy is consumed in the industrial sector, and that industrial users consume 75% of their energy in the form of (non-renewable) heat. He has dedicated his efforts and resources to fixing this evolving issue.
With the help of CalSEED funds and a US Department of Energy SunShot Award, Sunvapor is creating the lowest cost solar collector yet. By mid 2018, they are planning on using solar steam for the pasteurization, blanching and roasting of pistachios; the first of its kind! This device could be used for any food that is processed in this temperature range (e.g. pasta, soups, beans, and dairy products) which normally you would cook or pasteurize with natural gas as the heat source.
Sunvapor is growing every day and like any company in the early stages, needs resources. Philip suggests that in order to allow the company to grow further, they need two types of funding – (1) for the company itself to grow and (2) investor financing to build the plants that provide this clean renewable steam and heat to customers.
Philip hopes that within a 5-year span, Sunvapor will have developed these solar steam projects which are proving to be a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel for food processors and other industries. He hopes to not only lower energy bills, but make a significant positive impact to the CO2 and air pollution problem in the atmosphere!
The California Clean Energy Fund is proud and honored to have such innovative minds in our network and working with us.
“An entrepreneur is storyteller, and you have the opportunity to make that story a reality”. (P.Gleckman, personal communication, August 8, 2017)
Visit Sunvapor’s Website to learn more: http://www.sunvapor.net/index.html
*They are currently hiring for engineers!
Check out their video here!
Additional Helpful Sources:
Casey, T (2017, June 22). 70% Of California’s Pistachio Crop Could Go Solar All At Once. Clean Technica. Retrieved from https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/22/70-californias-pistachio-crop-go-solar/
Sunvapor, Inc. (2016). Sunvapor Receives Award from U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative for Green Solar Collector. Cision PR Newswire. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sunvapor-receives-award-from-u-s-department-of-energy-sunshot-initiative-for-green-solar-collector-300306106.html
Written By: Joscelynne Ramirez