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Boston Innovation Spotlight – Dynamo Micropower

BBJ Startups & Venture Capital

Dynamo Micropower gets $ to build micro machine

Article Courtesy of: Boston Business Journal by Kyle Alspach, VC Editor

jason ethier dynamo micropower boston massachusetts

Jason Ethier is the co-founder of Dynamo Micropower, who wants to shrink the weight of a home gas generator by about 160 pounds.

Dynamo Micropower is a tiny startup that’s only been around a short time, trying to build a very small generator for the home.

But since forming the company in January, co-founder Jason Ethier, 23, has gotten signals he may be onto a not-so-small opportunity.

The latest signal: A $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, that will help the company build its first prototype, in South Boston’s Greentown Labs. The company got notice of the SBIR Phase 1 award last week, and expects to have the money in hand by January, Ethier said.

But even before the award, Dynamo Micropower had taken two startup prizes — a grand prize at the national Startup Open competition and a DOE/U-Launch award.

The NSF grant, however, should be the biggest boost yet for Dynamo’s micro-machine — a gas-powered, 10-kilowatt generator. The generator that aims to be one-fifth the weight of the typical 200-pound generator you’d get at Home Depot, for about the same price, Ethier said. “We believe we’ve designed something that can compete on portability,” he said.

The generator is built around an ultra-small turbine — essentially a mini jet engine — designed by the three-person Dynamo team.

Dynamo hopes the six-month prototype project will lead to a second round of NSF funding, worth $500,000.

If successful, Ethier expects it would be at least five years before the generator could hit market.

The co-founders of Dynamo are Hardy Shen, who is expected to re-locate to Boston from the West Coast once the NSF grant comes through, and Ivan Wang, who is expected to continue studying at Duke.

All three hold mechanical engineering undergraduate degrees from Duke; Ethier finished up in 2010 and had started a mechanical engineering master’s program at the school when he decided to leave, in November 2010, to work on what would become Dynamo.

Ethier said he chose to start the firm in Boston partially because he’d worked in the area during two summers as a college student — as a manager at MIT’s Gravity program (he previously pursued aerospace engineering) and then as a supply chain manager GE’s aircraft engine plant in Lynn.

But Boston is also a center for energy and cleantech ventures, as evidenced, among other things, by Greentown Labs — home to 10 cleantech startups.

“Boston is the best community, in my opinion, for doing an energy startup,” Ethier said.

Imagine taking your home entirely off the power-grid and being paid for it.

Dynamo Micropower is commercializing a discontinuous innovation in gas micro-turbine technology that will bring ultra-low cost distributed power generation to homes.

By acting as a distributed utility, we willenable and accelerate the adoption of combined heating and power in homes and small businesses.

Customers will earn cash and reduce their carbon footprint while using energy 2x more efficiently than using the grid.

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