Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2012

SpiroFlo shares an infographic on how wind power is harvested.

For those who are curious, here’s how you turn wind power into energy generation (it’s pro-wind power info, but it gives the basic gist of things):


A full PDF version is available here.

*             *             *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This series of blogs is designed to chronicle our experience going through the 2012 Cleantech Open as a reference point for future applicants. Today’s blog: What to expect from the one-day national conference.

Last time, I gave an overview of the Cleantech Open and what to expect from the application process. Although I originally intended to cover both the one-day national conference and the multi-day regional academy in this blog, upon finding so many words falling out of my fingers, I decided to split the two and cover the one-day national academy here. As stated previously, these are the opinions of one participant going through the process in 2012.

If your company gets accepted to the Cleantech Open, the first big event you’ll attend is the national conference in San José, California. (You’ll likely have a regional mixer before this, but it provides a limited glimpse of what the Cleantech Open is about.) Although the one-day national conference is optional, as the required 3-4 day regional academy is immediately after and in the same city, it makes sense to tack on the extra day, unless you’re strapped for time and/or you live close to Boston, Massachusetts (where the east coast academy is held the following week).

Here’s what to expect from the one-day national conference:

1. Non-Stop Networking

Part of attending the national conference is having a trade show booth.

If you’ve ever worked a trade show, you know that it’s odd to interact with people in this environment. They don’t make eye contact; they wander off mid-sentence; and you can only bribe them to interact with so much free swag (candy, pens, water bottles, etc.) for so long. If people do come near your booth — pray you don’t get stuck next to the bathrooms or the food — they’ll take in any visual information you provide (in the form of fliers, posters, videos, etc.) far too quickly, and if it’s not bluntly clear what you do, they’ll lock in the wrong impression of your company and wander off ill-informed.

By Townsville Chamber (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsIt’s okay. I’ve attended trade shows and acted the same way towards trade show workers, because no one wants to feel trapped in a sales pitch, even if that’s not what you’re there to do. What you are there to do is network, and you’ll do a ton of it at both the national conference and the regional academy. My boss and I came back with over 50 cards between us with very little overlap.

Sure, collecting cards isn’t anything impressive — there was a guy who went around vomiting business cards on anyone with a pulse — but it never hurts to get your company out there more, and we came home with a half-dozen decent opportunities to pursue. Additionally, as there was another similarly aligned trade show going on at the same time in the same space (though the conferences were clearly divided), there was opportunity to connect with non-Cleantech Open contacts as well.

However many people you send to this event, split up so that you cover more ground. No one gets to stand around and be the pretty face.

2. Expect Some Bluster

In addition to having a trade show booth, you’ll also have to juggle your time with required presentations. As you’ll be leaving your booth all by its lonesome, this means that, a) you can kiss your free swag goodbye; b) you’ll want info sheets people can take; and c) You won’t want to leave anything valuable behind (internal reports, laptops, a briefcase full of unmarked bills, etc.).

In watching presentations in the main hall, you’ll realize that the national conference is the day for bluster material. To a degree, this should be expected, as the first day of any conference has a degree of self-congratulatory moves. Additionally, you can expect that the corporate sponsors have bought speaking time to make themselves look good.

Two of the major sponsors, Chevron and Walmart, got to give speeches on their commitment to sustainability, and whatever your opinion of those two companies before those presentations, I doubt it would’ve budged much. Although part of this is image makeover techniques of major corporations (and yes, statistically it actually works in increasing marketability, quality workers and profits), this also shows one of the greatest strengths of the Cleantech Open: As an organization, they’re open to hear about what’s out there in terms of green pursuits without writing anyone off. There’s no environmentalist snobbery that says, “Your company isn’t green enough.”

Sadly, this line of thinking is rarer than it should be when it comes to green conventions, but it’s necessary for wider acceptance and growth.

Finally, debates on whether cleantech has finally arrived will do little to sway your view of that either, as the definitions are broad enough that it’s easy to debate in the first place. However, as covered before, this national conference will give you lots of insight as to the current state of green energy in the U.S.

3. More Disorganization

By myself - Bilboq (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsI mentioned this in the application phase blog in problems with the Cleantech Open website and the trend continues here, only at this stage it’s in person.

The first thing that happened is that there was supposed to be a 10-minute shuttle that came to collect all the participants in the Cleantech Open and take us from the hotel we were told to book into with lower rates and over to the convention hotel. Upon walking outside after breakfast, however, there was a mob of angry people who’d already been waiting for this shuttle that was apparently 45 minutes late. As a result, I took a cab over to the convention hotel with my teammate. We asked people if they wanted to split the fare, but didn’t get much of a response. We assume we were docked greenie points because of this, but we wanted to set up our booth in time, as there was no time to do so the night before.

An hour later, all those polite people who waited for the shuttle showed up rather disgruntled. Additionally, they all had to wait in line to get their trade show passes to set up their booth and attend it… after the conference had already officially started. Although I got to skip this huge line by taking a cab to arrive early, the convention center workers handed out the wrong passes to us early birds and expected us to wait in line again for this mistake.    

Although it’s very impressive what the Cleantech Open is undertaking here—helping to accelerate 150 green companies—they’re long overdue to build in some more structure and organization. Additionally, there’s a degree of defensiveness when you share any criticism, even if it’s appropriate. You can expect to hear things about your “lack of initiative” and the all-encompassing shield of “We’re all volunteers.” If you’re as opinionated as I am, you likely won’t accept these excuses, especially since you, as a participant, are paying for this experience (this doesn’t mean being rude, rather that accountability is still in play). However, I will state that by the end of the subsequent regional academy, you will be ahead in terms of the value the Cleantech Open has given to you.

I’ll close this blog with the note that while I’ve covered a number of negative aspects of the Cleantech Open, my overall view of the process is favorable. These blogs came out of the reality that for as big as the Cleantech Open is, there’s very little independent information on it. My goal is to share both the good and the bad aspects for potential future applicants.  

*             *             *

In the next Cleantech Open blog, I’ll cover what to expect from the regional academy.

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This video was taken live at the national conference trade show by Silicon Valley Teal.

I never knew how much of a bobblehead I was until I appeared on camera:

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo gives a preview of the dark, satirical humor of Pawel Kuczynski.

More here.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This series of blogs is designed to chronicle our experience going through the 2012 Cleantech Open as a reference point for future applicants. Up first: What to expect from the initial application process.

Since this is the first blog in this series on what to expect from the Cleantech Open — save last week’s post on green insights from their national conference — I’ll answer the burning question most people have: Is the Cleantech Open a scam?

This is a fair question, as between the application costs and, if you’re accepted, the semifinalist fees, flights and hotel rooms (for at least two team members), you’re out a few grand before you really get anything  back. I’ll be blunt: The Cleantech Open is not a scam, but you won’t shake that feeling until you go to the national conference and subsequent regional academy to experience it for yourself.

(I know, sounds like the kind of things scammers say, but there you go.)

First things first though, you’ve got to fill out the competition application form and pay the entry fee. As the Cleantech Open is largely a volunteer organization that is trying to improve their competition, things may have changed by the time your company goes through the process. For more questions, they have a handy FAQ available, too.

Here’s what to expect from the application process:

1. You’ve Got to Pay to Play

I covered this a little bit above, but I’ll put the actual 2012 numbers here: The cost of the initial application is $140 per team (with cheaper rates for early birds and students). If accepted, the cost of being a semifinalist (including training, mentoring, materials and some event meals) is $475 per person, and you are required to have at least two team members. You are also encouraged to send at least two of these team members to the one-day national conference in San José, California. Additionally, these team members are required to attend a 3-4 day regional academy. Thankfully, the west coast academy is in the same hotel right after the national conference, so you can pool your flight and hotel funds into one trip (the east coast academy is in Boston, Massachusetts, a week later).

All this is to say that much of the financial cost of the Cleantech Open is in the initial weeks. There’s a time cost, too, especially in the 4-5 months following acceptance. Most weeks, you’ll be working on worksheets (which, while they shape your business, do still require some additional attention), chatting a bit with your assigned generalist mentor, and dedicating a few hours on a Tuesday to 10+ weeks of webinars. Although you’re encouraged to take part in these webinars live, you can watch the recordings later if need be.

If this scares you off from the Cleantech Open, so be it. Better you know this before you apply.

2. You Will Experience Website Problems

Photo attribution: By stuartpilbrow at Flickr [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe biggest complaint you’ll have about the Cleantech Open application process is the website.

Apparently this is a source of frustration every year and they’re working to upgrade the site (which hopefully will have happened by the time future applicants show up). As of this year, you fill out an online application that you can update until the deadline or until you hit “final save.” You have to pick a category for your technology — green building, energy efficiency, transportation, etc. — but if you’re a better fit in a different category, they’ll move you. From there, it’s what you’d expect from a green technologies competition application: You have to explain your technology, sustainability benefits, funding history, team members, etc.

However, the site has certain glitches, and if the application deadlines get extended, those glitches become more common. Thankfully, there’s a fairly responsive troubleshooting team for when you do have issues, but since you will likely have website issues, you can’t wait until the last minute to complete your application.

Common glitches include your application getting submitted before you’re ready and the site saying you haven’t paid for all team members when you have.

3. Judges Will Misconstrue Your Answers and You Will Not Have a Chance to Clarify

This is something that will happen at every stage of the Cleantech Open, but it has the chance to be the most detrimental in the application phase. If you can’t communicate clearly within the limited character count for each question of the application, you won’t get accepted (bear in mind that only 30-50% of applicants are accepted from each region).

Here’s the kicker: Even if you do get accepted, with the character limits (and therefore inadequate space to explain important nuances of your technology), at least one judge will completely miss the point of your project in key areas. I have to imagine that at least some of the companies rejected by the Cleantech Open received that rejection because their message wasn’t clear enough and too many judges misunderstood.

Take this as your warning: You will not have a chance to clarify with these judges later, so get your application right. While you may be familiar with your industry and the great technology you have to change it, these three judges will be looking at it for the first time, so try to bounce your application off a person unfamiliar with your technology before submitting.

In the later stages of the competition, you won’t get any judge feedback at all, so if you’re accepted, take this round one feedback from the judges as a warning of where you need to clarify certain parts of your presentation. As frustrating as the character limits of the application can be, as the famous quote goes, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Alternatively: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

*                             *                             *

In the next Cleantech Open blog, I’ll describe what you can expect from the national conference and the subsequent regional academy. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo analyzes the Navy’s $26 a gallon biofuel scandal.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus plans to have half of the fleet on alternative fuels by 2020.

As a step towards that goal, Secretary Mabus introduced a “Great Green Fleet” — five ships that run on a 50/50 blend of conventional fuel and alternative biofuel (as it does not require engine modifications). Since the biofuel runs on algae, chicken fat and seeds, there’s  hope that the biofuel will also help with that classic reliance-on-foreign-oil conundrum.

There’s just one problem: The biofuel currently costs over seven times more per gallon than conventional fuel ($26 a gallon compared to $3.60 a gallon).

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark Rankin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Does this biofuel make me look green?

As this green fleet includes a destroyer, tanker and an aircraft carrier, these aren’t exactly small hybrid vehicles daintily sipping on that fuel either. As mentioned in a previous blog, it seems as though you can run a vehicle on just about anything; it’s simply a matter of whether it’s economical on a large scale. At $26 a gallon, clearly this biofuel isn’t economical, at least not yet.

However, In the 1980s, there was a scandal over the Navy buying $640 toilet seats. On closer analysis, it was revealed that the high cost largely came from retrofitting the parts on a small number of out-of-production  P-3C Orion fleet ships. As the molds and equipment needed to be recreated for a relatively small number of installs, the costs naturally went up.

In the same way, this $26 a gallon cost comes from providing only one day’s worth of biofuel. Secretary Mabus hopes that as the Pentagon supports and expands the biofuel use, the cost per gallon will go down.

In the mean time, Republicans (including Rep. Randy Forbes and war veteran Sen. John McCain) believe that biofuels will always cost more, that President Obama’s alternative energy initiatives are too costly for mainstream use/taxpayer funds, and that it’s wrong for the military to help build green technologies in this manner.

What no one has (publicly) stated is the obvious: The Navy, like any military branch, is tasked to defend its country and, in the event of war, use the means necessary to ensure victory. War is a cold, brutal affair, and if there’s one thing the current U.S. deficit has taught us, it’s costly, too. If and when there’s a greater need for warships, the ideal options — especially easily dismissed, expensive luxury options — will fall away or fall in line with the grueling requirements of war.

Finally, on the off-chance the biofuel does stick around during wartime, no one is going to feel good about being Earth conscious while people are killing each other.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »