An Israeli startup that has developed eco-friendly cooling technology that uses the sun’s rays as a counter-intuitive but effective catalyst to reduce temperatures in structures like buildings, cars and shipping containers has struck a new deal with German auto giant Volkswagen. to test your product and jointly develop a concept vehicle.
SolCold, founded in 2016 by CEO Yaron Shenhav and Guy Ron, professor of nanosciences at the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University, announced its partnership with Konnect, the Volkswagen Group’s ‘innovation’ in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The innovation hub was launched in 2018 to give local start-ups access to the group and its brands.
Shenhav told the Israel times Monday SolCold has been working with the Konnect team since 2019 to further develop and test their technology – a material cool in the sunlight – on an open-air plot of 300 square meters, close to their offices in Ness Ziona.
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“We had two cars at the place where we were doing the research. They wanted to test their own vehicle and brought representatives from Germany and a Volkswagen Polo. We did a demo that showed that our technology was able to reduce temperatures by 12-14°C by covering the roof and dashboard”, compared to a standard vehicle, Shenhav described.
He added that negotiations are under way for Volkswagen to use SolCold’s product as “core technology that will be incorporated into new vehicles in the coming years.” »
The benefits for the automotive market are twofold, explained Shenhav. Having a naturally cooler car in hot climates can significantly reduce the energy consumption (air conditioning) of vehicles and therefore fuel consumption; in electric or hybrid cars, this can increase the range.
SolCold’s cool technology
Shenhav said SolCold has focused exclusively on research and development for the past six years, initially aiming to develop a high-tech light-filtering paint for commercial and residential buildings, but expanding potential applications given the range of possibilities.
The company is currently working on a film – a white multi-layer coating – that it hopes to develop in other colors and materials.
The film, developed with the help of the Hebrew University and supported by the institution’s technology company Yissum, uses a process called “anti-Stokes fluorescence”, which reverses the natural phenomenon of heat absorption (in roads, buildings, facilities or cars between another examples). Instead, it transfers and converts solar energy into subatomic particles so that they lose their heat, creating a cooling effect.
Shenhav had this idea when he was an electronic engineering student. He was cooking in his apartment in Tel Aviv while the air conditioning was faulty. He said the process “forces the atoms to reduce their energy level, thus lowering the temperature.” All you need is sun and outdoor exposure.”
SolCold’s film is made up of four layers that facilitate this process, including a layer containing active cooling particles, the company said.
SolCold claims that its technology can be used not only for buildings but also for cars, tanks and other military applications, cargo trucks, containers, planes, hangars, outdoor electronic devices and even textiles used for tents, jackets. and clothing to protect them from the sun and prolong their life.
Shenhav said SolCold has tested the technology with several companies in Israel, including ICL Group, a multinational maker of fertilizers, metals and chemicals, where the startup demonstrated the cooling technology at a mineral facility and the Belgian beverage giant’s local operations. Anheuser-Busch InBev, or AB InBev, where the demonstration involved applying the film to a truck carrying beer.
He added that SolCold also has projects underway in Germany, Japan and Singapore.
Shenhav said the company is currently in the stages of developing the coolant paint it initially planned to use on residential and commercial buildings and hopes to complete development by 2024.
“Cost is always an issue, it’s still very expensive, about $80 to $120 per square foot of film,” he explained, as the company strives to cut costs to make the technology more affordable and, therefore more accessible.
The environmental benefits
According to Shenhav, the residential market will be particularly important for SolCold in the coming months due to the environmental benefits.
Coating a building with SolCold’s product not only cools it naturally, saving energy costs and reducing strain on electrical grids, but once done on a large scale in cities like Tel Aviv, the environmental impact can be immense. We are talking about a massive reduction in CO2 emissions, the main driver of global climate change, from cars, power plants, etc.
An added dimension, specifically in cities, he said, is to hope to reduce the phenomenon of the “urban heat island” where buildings, sidewalks, cars, roads, businesses and dense human activity generate higher temperatures in the urban area.
“Everything absorbs sunlight and warms cities from the inside. So that’s an added benefit that I’m very attached to,” said Shenhav.
The company, however, avoids defining itself as a climate technology company or a clean technology company. “We’re really looking for the benefit to the end customer… and not just as a cleantech company. We consider ourselves in the business of sustainability, clean energy, energy saving and new materials because we are truly a deep technology company,” said Shenhav, referring to an industry that provides technological solutions based on considerable scientific or technical development.
SolCold has so far raised more than $5 million from strategic investors and is currently in the process of raising an eight-figure amount for its Series B funding round, Shenhav said.
The company currently employs 10 people, all of whom are scientists or engineers in research and development “because we have to keep up smart R&D to stay ahead,” he added.
“The additional funds will help SolCold to expand the business side of the company and expand globally. “Shenhav said.