Alternative Energy & Fuels

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IN: Indiana Firm Developing Solar Power Storage Technology

29 Jul, 2009


A team of technicians here is using a Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop a solution to more efficiently harness the power of the sun as an energy source for residential and commercial uses.

Portland Ind.- based Sertech Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. was recently awarded a $77,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to further develop its proprietary technology which traps and stores solar energy for discretionary use as fuel.

"In Sertech's technology, Indiana has another great idea with great applications," said Governor Mitch Daniels. "Companies like this that see innovative solutions are the future backbone of the Indiana economy."

Under development by Sertech Owner Wayne Blevins for nearly five years, the company's Solar Thermal Energy Storage Vessel is similar in size to a residential water heater and contains a proprietary mix of environmentally friendly chemicals that can more efficiently store the sun's heat. Sertech is using the grant to fund a feasibility study with Ball State University.

"Sertech is based on the notion of continually developing innovations in the HVAC market. Solar is an abundant source of free, environmentally safe energy and remains virtually untapped," said Blevins. "Upon the successful completion of this project, our storage vessel will allow solar thermal energy to ease our dependence on fossil fuel for heating our homes, businesses and industries."

Sertech's blend of chemicals can be heated and maintained at higher temperatures than water, which vaporizes at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Blevins says early testing indicates the system has the capacity to store up to 400 percent more solar energy than products currently available on the market. The Solar Thermal Energy Storage Vessel also allows for the controlled release of energy allowing consumers to benefit from captured solar energy during the night.

Blevins anticipates the technology will be applicable to a variety of markets ranging from private residential use to larger-scale agriculture and industrial markets. The company is also researching methods of capturing industrial waste-heat, which would be processed through the system for reuse.

Sertech will develop a prototype of the vessel during the eight-month feasibility study and anticipates commercial production of the technology could begin by 2011.

"We are excited about the advancement of Solar Thermal Energy Technology development by Sertech, a terrific family-owned company in Portland," said Mayor Bruce W. Hosier. "We appreciate our partnership with Sertech and look forward to the implementation of this new technology and adopting energy-saving methods for our city facilities."

Blevins, a more than 30-year-veteran of the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry, is a graduate of ITT Technical Institute's Environmental Control Technology program. He currently owns and operates Sertech Heating and Air Conditioning in Portland.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation's Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program assisted Sertech in securing the federal funding and provided a matching $77,000 grant.

Sertech is one of more than 120 companies that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has assisted in securing funding from the federal government's Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program. The SBIR/STTR is an effort by 11 federal agencies to accelerate the development of high-tech products for use by the government and consumers around the globe.

The agency's efforts to boost federal funding for Indiana business have resulted in a more than 62 percent increase in federal dollars to Indiana entrepreneurial businesses.

About Sertech
Sertech Heating and Air Conditioning is a family owned and operated distributor of Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems. Portland, Ind. - based Sertech is engaged in the development of alternative energy solutions for residential and commercial customers. For more information visit www.sertechheating-air.com

About IEDC
Created by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Daniels. Indiana Secretary of Commerce Mitch Roob serves as the chief executive officer of the IEDC.  For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.

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