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ThermoLift gets grant for heat pump development

Paul Schwartz is president of a company that

Paul Schwartz is president of a company that is modernizing technology for a natural-gas heat pump. The company, ThermoLift, of Stony Brook, is among nine organizations nationwide to get a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to aid in the pump's development. (March 26, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

A German-born, Long Island-nurtured super efficient heat pump technology has received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to aid in the development of prototypes.

ThermoLift Inc. of Stony Brook, which is developing the pump, was one of nine organizations across the nation that received funding from the Energy Department for an energy-efficient heating and air conditioning project. The grant was announced Wednesday.

"This is huge for us," said ThermoLift chief executive Paul Schwartz. "It's . . . about the endorsement of the potential of the technology."

ThermoLift's heat pump, which is based on a German model built in the 1990s, uses natural gas -- as well as the energy in heat from the surrounding air -- to power itself as it moves heat into or out of a building.

Locally, ThermoLift already has support. The startup raised $1.6 million in seed funding from the Long Island Angel Network in April, and has many ties with Stony Brook University. ThermoLift is based in the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center in Stony Brook.

The grant will aid in the building of two prototypes. The final one will be tested in Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee -- a specialist in heat pump technology, Schwartz said.

Schwartz, who left his job in finance to work on ThermoLift, turned in the grant application to the Department of Energy with recommendation letters from Brookhaven National Lab, Empire State Development Corp. and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). The project is also waiting on grant decisions from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Department of the Navy.

Israel praised the grant decision. "Coming from a region with high energy costs, it is crucial to invest in innovation that will improve efficiency and lower energy bills for consumers," he said.

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