Paul Schwartz is president of a company that is modernizing...

Paul Schwartz is president of a company that is modernizing technology for a natural-gas heat pump. The company, ThermoLift, is partnering with the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stony Brook University for work in the device. (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 be partnering with Stony Brook University's Mechanical Engineering Department to speed up development of a prototype.

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

ThermoLift would be building upon an already substantial relationship with Stony Brook -- the company was headquartered at the school's Advanced Energy Research Technology Center and was 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.

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

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