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ThermoLift, Stony Brook U. partner on heat pump

Chief executive Paul Schwartz shows a heat pump

Chief executive Paul Schwartz shows a heat pump ThermoLift Inc. is developing that would allow natural gas to be used to cool and heat homes. He anticipates a prototype within a year. (March 26, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

A local startup hoping to modernize the technology of a decades-old, super-efficient natural-gas-powered heat pump will partner with Stony Brook University's mechanical engineering department to speed up development of a prototype.

The startup, ThermoLift Inc., will be able "to access strong fundamental thermodynamic skills critical for our simulation, advanced modeling and development" through the partnership, said chief executive Paul Schwartz.

ThermoLift is building upon an already substantial relationship with Stony Brook: The company is headquartered at the school's Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center and is a client of the university's Clean Energy Business Incubator Program.

Schwartz was also being advised by engineering professors before the partnership was officially set.

The ThermoLift device 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.

Engineers and scientists who have studied the pump say it is able to achieve a higher efficiency than regular HVAC systems. Schwartz is working off a 1990 German model of the device and hopes to develop a prototype with electronic controls.

Scientists at Stony Brook have said the device is promising because it is based on technology that is proven.

They said the biggest hurdle for the company could be the innovation required to integrate electronic controls with the mechanical pump.

In April, ThermoLift raised $1.5 million in seed funding from the Long Island Angel Network.

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