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Continuing the charge to bring dynamic energy storage to both utilities and facilities with large refrigeration and air conditioning needs, Axiom Exergy has been granted the seminal patent for direct expansion thermal energy storage. This strengthens its position to extend its ‘ice battery’ technology to HVAC and air conditioning applications which use variable refrigerant flow systems (VRF), which research shows represents about 24 percent of the global commercial air conditioning market.
“Axiom’s issued patent is widely applicable, and it is foundational for their plans to expand into the broader refrigeration and HVAC markets,” said Mohr, Investor and Founding Partner of Mohr Davidow Ventures. “I’m extremely impressed with Axiom’s vision to bring an innovative solution to these underserved sectors and help customers save money through intelligent use of industrial cooling equipment.”
The patent comes on the heels of $2.5MM in funding announced this summer from investors including JB Straubel (CTO of Tesla) to help fulfill over $5 million of contracts for key demonstration projects in California and a large, multi-site rollout with Con Edison in New York. The company has also been accepted into StartX, a prestigious accelerator program affiliated with Stanford University and the Stanford-StartX fund.
Using the Axiom Exergy thermal energy storage technology, businesses with large refrigeration-based energy loads can reduce their peak electricity demand by up to 40 percent. The Refrigeration Battery can shift six hours of a building’s refrigeration-based electricity loads, leveraging the existing refrigeration system’s excess capacity to “store cooling” at night by freezing tanks of salt water. During afternoon peak hours, the Refrigeration Battery uses the frozen tanks to supply refrigeration services to the building, eliminating the need to run energy-intensive compressors and condensers. The Refrigeration Battery is a non-invasive, modular, retrofit that operates in parallel with existing refrigeration systems to shift daytime energy loads to less expensive off-peak hours. It can also provide backup cooling to reduce uninsured food spoilage during power outages, an expensive and growing problem for supermarket owners. Installation of the Refrigeration Battery does not require physical or programming modifications of existing equipment.
"Existing thermal energy storage technologies were designed for use with cooling systems that use air or water as the heat transfer medium,” said Anthony Diamond, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Axiom Exergy. “We believe that we now hold the seminal patent for the beneficial application of thermal energy storage in an entire family of cooling systems: direct expansion. Securing this patent is particularly important for us because it lays the groundwork to considerably expand the application of our technology into new markets, and it increases the impact our technology will have on accelerating the global transition to renewable energy.”
Beyond supermarkets and cold storage facilities, Axiom’s IP can also be applied to a wide variety of other cooling applications found in food manufacturing processing, and packaging facilities, along with small-format retail like convenience stores. In addition, the patent protection extends to Variable Refrigerant Flow systems (VRF), a space heating/cooling technology that represents about 24 percent of the global commercial air conditioning market. MarketsandMarkets forecasts this sector to reach $24 billion in annual revenue by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4 percent between 2016 and 2022. VRF is the predominant form of commercial air conditioning in countries like Japan, and Germany, it is also the fastest growing segment of the commercial HVAC market here in the US. This growth is largely attributed to the energy efficiency of VRF, which typically uses up to 30 percent less energy than traditional HVAC systems. VRF systems are widely utilized in various segments of the commercial sector, including office buildings, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, hotels, restaurants, and more. Axiom is in discussions with several major OEMs with investments in the global air conditioning market who stand to benefit from incorporating Axiom’s IP.