Nelumbo, a pioneer in the field of advanced materials and surface modifications, announced that it has been awarded $2 million in funding from the California Energy Commission (CEC) through their Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC). The EPIC program invests in scientific and technological research to accelerate the transformation of the electricity sector to meet the state’s energy and climate goals.
“The California Energy Commission is proud to provide EPIC funding to support entrepreneurs like Nelumbo that are working to reduce energy use and provide benefits to ratepayers,” said CEC Vice Chair Janea Scott. “Nelumbo has created an advanced anti-icing material to improve the energy efficiency of industrial refrigeration systems. Cutting edge technologies like Nelumbo’s have the potential to create energy savings while advancing California’s clean energy goals.”
The purpose of this solicitation is to fund applied research and development projects that enable cost-effective decarbonization of California’s food and beverage processing industry. Nelumbo has proposed to achieve this by advancing its anti-ice materials for deployment on industrial scale refrigeration systems.
Supporting a reliable food supply through advanced anti-icing technology
Industrial refrigeration systems rely on refrigerants for air heat exchangers to create temperature-controlled space. In doing so, the evaporation of the refrigerant removes heat from the air resulting in condensate and frost formation on the heat exchanger coils. Ice and frost formation foul the coil and diminishes the ability of the coil to cool the air, necessitating the ice to be melted off by an energy-intensive defrost process which accounts for over 20% of energy consumption of these refrigeration systems. These defrost cycles must occur though, or else temperatures will rise, and food quality will suffer.
“Recent events have highlighted exactly how critical the robustness of our food supply chain is,” said Nelumbo CEO Liam Berryman. “We are pleased to work with the CEC to demonstrate a solution that can be impactful at any scale and to any system. We see this project as an expansion step into a range of new sustainable opportunities in cooling.”
Nelumbo has already demonstrated its anti-ice materials on residential refrigerators as well as residential and commercial-scale heat pumps. With this funding, Nelumbo will optimize their materials for industrial substrates and scale manufacturing processes required for commercial adoption.
“The CEC has always been a leader in sustainability and energy innovation, and we couldn’t be more excited to have their support on this project,” said Cody Oliver, Director of Manufacturing at Nelumbo and Project Lead for this CEC solicitation. “Industrial refrigeration is a prime application for our materials and the massive, complex components provide an opportunity for us to showcase the versatility and scalability of our manufacturing processes. With the provided funding we will be able to accelerate development and seize an opportunity to have a tremendous impact on the State’s energy consumption, grid reliability, and greenhouse gas emissions while also improving food quality and reducing waste.”