Friday, April 24, 2015

Mushrooms on My Pizza(Box)

Earlier this week New York-based start-up Ecovative, Inc. announced plans to team up with a designer, Danielle Trofe, to demonstrate the flexibility of its proprietary construction materials made from MUSHROOMS!  Ecovative mixes agriculture waste with mycelium, the thread-like hyphae that make up fungus.  A single spore can germinate into a complex mass of branching hyphae running through the waste fibers.  The mix is placed in a desired mold for a few days to allow the mycelia to grow and permeate the fibers like a self-assembling glue.  The result is a durable material that can be cut and finished to a final product.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Computer in the Radiator

Qarnot Computing (private) is the most recent addition to the Efficiency Group of our Mothers of Invention Index of energy technology innovators.  The company provides computing capacity to financial institutions, entertainment developers, pharmaceutical researchers and others with intense analytical requirements.  The second product in the Qarnot portfolio is called the Q-Rad and it has nothing to do with computing  -  well at least not directly.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Modern Water: When Push Comes to Pull

In an article published on March 31st about attempts by OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL:  OTC/QB) to penetrate the oil and gas fracturing market with its waste water treatment solutions, I mentioned a company called Oasys Water, Inc.    Oasys provides desalination services to shale gas producers and I incorrectly identified their technology as that of reverse osmosis.  In fact, Oasys uses an alternative process called ‘forward osmosis.’

Like the reverse osmosis that so many of us are familiar with through water softening and purifying systems at home, forward osmosis relies on a permeable membrane.  However, in forward osmosis a high concentration ‘drawing’ solution is used to pull water through the membrane into the solution.  It requires much less energy than reverse osmosis that relies on hydraulic pressure to push water through the membrane.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The (Spend)thrifty Ways of Capstone Turbine

Last week Capstone Turbine (CPST:  Nasdaq) announced changes around the table in its boardroom, bragging of the costs savings it can achieve.  Capstone is a well established manufacturer of microturbines used in power generation.  The company claims over 8,000 of its turbines are in use around the world.   Despite the clear footprint in the power market, Capstone needs to achieve efficiency.  Sales of its turbines totaled $122 million in the twelve months ending December 2014.  Unfortunately, the period ended with a net loss of $20.6 million or $0.06 per share.