With new investments, an Oak Ridge company is promoting a technology for cooling buildings.
Active Energy Systems (AES), a cleantech company advancing a new cooling solution, announced it had met the initial conditions for a first close on a $1 million seed funding round, led by the Clean Energy Venture Group.
Other investors include Queen City Angels and Three Roots Capital.
“Climate change, aging infrastructure and rising costs all present significant challenges for today’s building owners’ ability to maintain safety, comfort and affordability with current cooling systems. AES is commercializing an advanced cooling solution with built-in energy storage to provide building owners with lower cooling costs, reduced carbon emissions and strengthened cooling resiliency,” a news release from the company stated.
AES plans to create and commercialize an enhanced form of ice thermal energy storage. Such an enhancement will not only further open the current ice energy storage markets, such as comfort cooling and process cooling, but also help enable an upcoming form of electricity storage: pumped thermal energy storage, the news release stated.
The company moved to a new facility in Oak Ridge in August 2021, choosing to remain in the region due to easy access to high-quality talent from the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, low operating costs and support from the local entrepreneurial and energy ecosystem, the news release stated.
“We are excited to announce the initial close of Active Energy’s seed round, and we are so pleased to bring Clean Energy Venture Group, Queen City Angels, and Three Roots Capital into our team,” Levon Atoyan, co-founder and CEO, and Mitchell Ishmael, co-founder and chief technology officer, said in the release. “Over the next four months, we will secure final investment to complete this $1 million round, which will be used to file additional patent applications, further develop industrial collaborations and strengthen Active Energy’s marketing.”
This funding will allow AES to advance its business development efforts, including investing in marketing opportunities and intellectual property protection, the news release stated. The company will also engage with potential HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) manufacturing partners to further commercialize the technology. Looking ahead, AES intends to seek an opportunity to be acquired by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the HVAC sector.
“Active Energy’s thermal storage technology has made significant progress, and it is exciting to be a part of their continued success,” Coleman Adams, partner at Clean Energy Venture Group, stated in the release. “The impact that cooling load has on the electricity grid is substantial and AES’ technology is a critical piece in solving that growing problem.”
“This is truly remarkable progress that Active Energy Systems has made in the development of their technology, strategic partnerships, a backlog of federal agency development funding and customer relationships,” stated John Bruck, member and investor of Queen City Angels and director of the Spark Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee Research Park (UTRP). “We’re proud of the AES team and their advancements with this innovative energy storage technology and look forward to continuing to work with them as they grow and commercialize.”
“Three Roots Capital has been associated with AES for more than three years, dating back to the first institutional capital raised by the company from the TennesSeed Fund, which is an affiliate of Three Roots, in April 2019,” Grady Vanderhoofven, president and CEO of Three Roots, stated in the release. “Because Three Roots and AES are in the same town, and through that early investment, we’ve had a ringside seat and bird’s eye view of the maturation and evolution of AES, and we’ve had occasions to add value to the company in addition to invested capital. Three Roots is extremely enthusiastic about the progress the company has made and the opportunity to continue to support the growth of AES, especially alongside other capable investors.”
Before this current investment, AES raised over $2.4 million in non-dilutive funding through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, along with matching funds from Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN). AES is a graduate of the Innovation Crossroads program operated at ORNL and the Energy Mentor Network run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with LaunchTN and a current participant in the Spark Incubator Program at UTRP.