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Heat Ventors Looking to Burn Bright at Cooling

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An innovative Hungarian energy storage solution offers to cut energy use drastically in data centers and elsewhere.

Thermal energy systems all over the world are far from maximum efficiency. In Europe alone, it is estimated some EUR 20 billion or 250 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases could be saved by optimizing energy storages, according to reports by the International Energy Agency and KPMG.  

A large chunk of that is wasted in data centers, where permanent cooling is of critical importance. A Hungarian invention, HeatTANK by Heat Ventors promises a solution that could dramatically cut energy bills at telco sites.

“Traditionally, heat is stored by changing the temperature of the water. Instead of water we use special biomaterials, called phase change materials,” explains Zoltán Andrássy, who co-founded the company together with his partner, Rita Farkas. “By melting and solidification, storage size can be reduced by almost 90% and save 20-40% energy, with a 1.5-3 years return-on-investment.” HeatTANK also allows better use of changing air temperature as well by producing and storing energy during the night so that it can be used for cooling during the day.

Choosing the Right Material

“We started research at university, while we also studied how other companies on the market operate and detected their errors meticulously,” Andrássy tells the Budapest Business Journal. “We figured it all comes down to choosing the right material to work with, as this is how you can keep costs down and serve price-sensitive customers best.”

The market looks huge: in Hungary only there are more than 15,000 telco sites where the technology could be utilized, whereas more than a million such facilities exist all over Europe. Another target group is bitcoin miners, for whom it is also crucial to keep energy bills down in their vast server farms.

The next step is to get the first pilot projects running using existing prototypes. Heat Ventors is negotiating with several local telcos and players in the energy industry. Andrássy says lucrative contracts are in sight not only in Hungary, but also from neighboring countries, the US and China. “Depending on the technology our potential customers use, energy savings may reach up to 70%,” the co-founder CEO says.

An alternative smaller scale go-to-market route could be developing products for household applications. This would pave the way to selling licenses and blueprints of the technology to manufacturers with access to consumer markets. Negotiations with Hajdú, a Hungarian water heat storage manufacturer, point in that direction. It sells more than 300,000 storage units per year and projects demand for up to 30,000 HeatTANK units.

The founders are trained engineers, but decided to master business skills in a series of incubation and accelerator programs to scale up their venture. Their determination has been rewarded with six startup competition awards, among them the first prize from EIT InnoEnergy PowerUP! contest. In fact, the latter organization has recently committed itself to fund the project with EUR 150,000. That and an additional EUR 100,000 funding from two Finnish angel investors in the pipeline should put Heat Ventors on the right track to gain market traction and live up it its potential.

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