Tim Hassett and his company, Cool Technologies, Inc (OTCQB: WARM), are transforming mobile generation.
To many people, this may not sound like a big deal—but it is.
Think of all the places and situations where being able to bring in reliable electricity is crucial. Communities devastated by hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters are in desperate need of power. Military encampments on the front lines of a conflict depend on having electricity out in the field. And it’s not possible to develop far-flung oil fields or mines, to work at thousands of construction sites, to farm rural lands, or to treat patients in field hospitals without power. In many of these situations, mobile generation is literally lifesaving.
Given the enormous need, the overall global market is huge—an estimated $26 billion per year. And for decades, that market has been largely supplied by stand-alone generators towed behind trucks.
The problem is that tow-behind generators have limitations. They may be impossible to tow up narrow winding roads, and are typically inefficient, noisy, heavy, and polluting. They require fuel that must be brought in along with the generators, plus operators need to leave the safety of their trucks to start up and monitor the generators—putting military personnel and other first responders at serious risk in dangerous situations.
Hassett and his company have solved all these problems with an innovative new approach. They build a high-tech generator right into a standard pickup truck, using the truck’s own engine and fuel tank to power the generator. “Wherever you can drive a truck, you can generate power,” Hassett explains. Operators don’t even need to leave the cab to start generating electricity, using a ToughPad from partner Panasonic to control the system.
Moreover, thanks to Hassett’s and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Mark Hodowanec’s innovations and patented technology, the whole generator system adds just 928 pounds to the truck, compared to a typical weight of more than 6000 pounds for a tow-behind generator. And it’s far cheaper and more efficient. In an industry where a 2% improvement is considered big, “we are now talking a 35% improvement,” says Dan Ustian, former chairman, president and CEO of giant truck manufacturer Navistar. “This is an incredible advancement.”
In May 2018, Cool Technologies successfully demonstrated a generator-equipped Ford F-350 truck to nine representatives from Mexico’s farming, banking, and government sectors in Fort Collins, Colorado, in May. Those officials see the technology as being vital to rural economic development. “We consider that this will have immediate and life-changing effects for farmers,” says Dr. Rosario Salas Beal, Mexico’s delegate to the Foro Euro-Latinoamericano de la Mujeres.
Before the demonstration, CoolTech already had an order for ten trucks, worth more than $1 million. The demonstration will now allow the truck to go into production, fulfilling purchase commitments that have already been signed by Jatropha, Inc, and Veracruz, Inc, for 259 trucks as well as bringing in new buyers and more orders from those in attendance.
In addition, the Foro Euro-Latinoamericano de la Mujeres has invited Cool Technologies to a series of planned meetings across Europe to present its generator-equipped truck to more potential customers.
The trucks will begin to roll out from the Missouri factory of partner Craftsmen Industries in Q3 of 2018.
Building the generator system into standard Ford trucks is just the start. Hassett now is in discussions with military first responders, who understand the major advantages of being able to load generator-equipped trucks onto airplanes or ships to deliver to an area struck by a natural disaster or conflict, instead of having to bring in tow-behind generators and fuel. Hassett’s team also brought a generator truck to the North American Auto show in Detroit in 2017, demonstrating how a single truck can charge several electric vehicles at a time. That will allow electric car manufacturers to bring stranded customers a quick charge when they run out of juice on the road, which is why car companies have expressed interest, particularly as a tie-in with the introduction of new electric cars and a possible perk for car owners, Hassett says.
Cool Technologies will become profitable as soon as the first trucks are delivered, Hassett says, with each of the lowest-power systems selling for 10% to 20% below the traditional cost of a tow behind. The company has set a goal to have more than 1000 orders in backlog by the end of the year. And sales should rise rapidly from there as the trucks demonstrate their advantages to everyone from the military and utility and communications industries to oil and gas companies. “We think this is a no brainer, a must-have,” Hassett says.
What’s more, the key patented Cool Technologies’ innovation will raise the competitive barriers to its revolutionary mobile generation system. The company’s cooling technologies enhance the efficiency of generators to enable them to be manufactured smaller, lighter and more cost effectively with longer operating lifespans. That’s a size, weight, efficiency and cost advantage no competitor can match.
The cooling technologies also have far broader applications. What Hodowanec and Hassett pioneered is a method of cooling motors for all kinds of processes that is much lighter and more efficient than current cooling methods, such as the water pumps and radiators used for a car engine. The technology is called a heat pipe. It’s basically a sealed tube. Heat absorbed at one end warms a liquid and vaporizes it. The vapor then travels to the other end of the tube where it cools and then returns to the first end as a liquid to start the cycle over.
“Heat pipes have been around since the late 1800s,” Hassett explains. “But no one was able to make a truly practical device—until now.” Hodowanec and Hassett were able to succeed because of their unique combination of experience and knowledge. As a teenager, Hassett worked nights and weekends with his father, an expert crafter of custom electric motors, learning how to hand-wind big industrial motors. He got a degree in physics, then another in mechanical engineering technology and went on to a career as a top executive at General Electric and other companies. He has hands on expertise in everything from hard-core engineering and factory-floor management to sales and marketing and top-level finance, and has forged deep relationships with top people in a wide range of industries.
So Hassett and Mark Hodowanec, Cool Technologies’ co-founders, already had the odds in their favor when they decided in 2006 to tackle one of industry’s biggest problems—cooling. “We knew that getting rid of heat is the number one issue,” says Hassett. Engineers have devised all sorts of elaborate and expensive methods for cooling big motors and other devices.
Could a heat pipe work better? Hassett and Hodowanec wondered. “We started experimenting in a garage,” Hassett recalls. “We took a motor and added a heat pipe.” It worked. “We discovered that no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get the temperature of the motor up,” Hassett recalls. From that moment, Hodowanec, one of the most talented engineers Hassett has had the pleasure to work with, made the dream into a reality. “Mark learned from my father and from Siemens’ CTO, Bill Finley,” Hassett says. “We both were fortunate to be taught by icons in design and manufacturing of motors and generators.”
In addition, the heat pipe dramatically boosts efficiencies and cuts costs, which has been subsequently proven by third party validation testing. “This is a leapfrog approach to efficiency,” says Richard Schul, former president of Emerson Electric Motors. “This is a game changer.”
The technology has very broad utility. “It can replace any kind of cooling,” explains Hassett.
Hassett and Hodowanec obtained numerous patents on the heat pipe technology and founded Cool Technologies in 2011 to commercialize the technology.
Casting around for the best applications, they quickly realized that the mobile generation market was ripe for a revolution. Using their parallel power platform, they showed, they could add a powerful generator into the chassis of a regular pickup truck and keep it cooled with their lightweight heat pipe technology. The generator is turned by the truck’s own engine, which has already met strict emissions requirements. That eliminates the need for costly pollution controls—a growing problem for tow-behind generators, which historically have not been regulated—and for bringing in a separate fuel supply.
With Cool Tech’s extensive contacts, Hassett was able to bring on Craftsmen Industries, the nation’s leading designer and builder of experiential trucks, to install the generator and heat pipe system on Ford F-350, 450, and 550 trucks. With the help of an independent agent, Co-Builder, he brought in Panasonic to supply the ToughPads that control the system. Hassett anticipates partnering with more companies, from truck manufacturers to those in service industries.
Soon the first trucks will be delivered and this new mobile generation revolution will begin.
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