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Electric UPS trucks, better heat pumps being developed at LI center

Companies are using the nonprofit Composite Prototyping Center to pursue bold projects with advanced materials, officials said. 

Leonard Poveromo, executive director of the Composite Prototyping

Leonard Poveromo, executive director of the Composite Prototyping Center, left, and Joseph Ambrosio, president of Unique Electric Solutions.

Advanced materials are helping Long Island companies to pursue bold projects, officials said Wednesday at the Plainview-based Composite Prototyping Center.

The 25,000-square-foot facility hosted an event to highlight companies, colleges and high schools that have partnered with the 4-year-old not-for-profit center.

Joseph M. Ambrosio, president and chief executive of Unique Electric Solutions, said his company is using advanced materials to convert United Parcel Service delivery trucks to electric and hydrogen power.

The 2-year contract, worth more than $5 million, calls for the company to convert 15 gas-powered trucks to electric systems for the New York City market and another 15 to hydrogen fuel-cell systems for the Sacramento and Ontario, California, markets, Ambrosio said.

The battery-powered trucks will have a range of about 50 miles, while the fuel-cell versions will go about 150 miles, he said.

Unique Electric Solutions, a tenant of the CPC, plans to use lightweight composites to enclose batteries and control systems and as the hydrogen fuel tank on the fuel-cell vehicles.

Ambrosio said Amazon's plan to build a secondary headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, opens fresh opportunities as the Seattle-based retailer moves to build its own fleet of delivery trucks.

"We'd love to do electrics for them," he said. "That's another target market."

Ambrosio said his company has 12 employees now but is seeking to reach 75 within three years and is scouting for a new facility on Long Island. 

Another company using the CPC is ThermoLift Inc., the developer of a compact heat pump that chief executive Paul Schwartz said could save homeowners about 50 percent in annual energy costs.

The 6-year-old company, based at Stony Brook University's Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, is working with the CPC to replace a half-inch-thick steel shell on prototype units with a composite shell that would cut weight and cost while adding insulation. 

The event, which drew about 130 people, also honored educators from Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, based in Flushing, Queens, and Bethpage, Syosset, Huntington and Freeport high schools, whose students have taken part in programs at the CPC.

Leonard Poveromo, executive director of the CPC, said the facility has equipment worth about $12 million that companies can rent for production or training.

"There is life for manufacturing on Long Island," he said.

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