In the movies, the hero routinely saves the world in a single bound – but in real life, getting there often requires many smaller steps.
Such is the lesson learned by innovator Reed Phillips and his Stony Brook-based startup Energystics Ltd., which has always favored the slow-and-steady route but is now laser-focusing on a particular vertical that Phillips hopes will prove a gateway to much bigger things, and that right quick.
Phillips’ trademarked and heavily patented Vibristor technology – designed to harvest “vibrational energy” from surrounding environments – has many potential applications, and the innovator’s R&D teams have explored several promising ideas: wave-powered navigational buoys, people-powered chargers for personal electronics and more.
But before the 2012 startup and its clean-generation technology can reduce global carbon emissions and otherwise assist planetary environmental rescue efforts, the tech much catch on – which in this case means throttling back and, at least temporarily, scaling down.
The technology works. Phillips and his Energystics team, longtime members of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (and big fans of SBU’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center), have mocked up a vibration-powered flashlight, those personal chargers (which can charge a cell phone by harvesting the vibrational energy generated by walking and other simple motions) and other prototypes wherein Vibristor did the trick.
But “for a variety of reasons, we’ve had to reject a number of possibilities,” Phillips lamented.
Producing ocean wave-generated electricity to feed regional power grids, for instance, is “a 10-to-15-year effort that requires a tremendous amount of capital,” he noted, “and the company is still too small for that.”