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ENERGY & UTILITIES | Renewables / Ocean & Hydro
verterraenergy.com

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Stage

Unattributed | Alive

Total Raised

$300K

Last Raised

$300K | 8 yrs ago

About Verterra Energy

Verterra Energy develops turbine systems to harness the power of water without the construction of a dam or other major infrastructure. The Verterra Turbine System can be deployed in fully developed urban areas as well as remote, rural environments that may lack the infrastructure required to produce and transmit electricity.

Verterra Energy Headquarter Location

10400 France Avenue North

Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55443,

United States

612-803-8273

Latest Verterra Energy News

Sustainable: Power-generating pods go with the flow

Oct 3, 2017

V-Pod’s design places the turbine on top of a sleek, oval-shaped platform that could pass for the outline of a spaceship. A narrow, flat back widens in the middle to hold the turbine before narrowing to a point. (Submitted photo: Verterra Energy Inc.) More than a decade ago, Ted Christopher had an idea for a hydrokinetic turbine capable of generating electricity in rivers and streams across the world. Now Christopher’s Minneapolis-based company, Verterra Energy Inc., is beginning to commercialize his invention. The vertical axis “Volturnus-Pod,” or “V-Pod,” will likely be deployed in the first quarter of next year. A river in South Carolina will be the first to see a modular V-Pod producing power, with more installations to follow. Christopher is mum about naming the utility in South Carolina that Verterra plans to collaborate with on the pilot program due to nondisclosure agreements. “It’s a utility who understands hydro power and likes this project,” said Christopher, 36. “We’ll be measuring and monitoring the performance closely. We hope a successful launch will help us expand, and we’re looking forward to installing it.” The entrepreneur’s company, Verterra Energy Inc. , has been around for five years, but this year things seem to have come together. The CBS show “Innovation Nation” recently featured the company. And he has found equity investors. More importantly, two experts who once worked for Boeing on hydro projects have joined his board to promote the product and shepherd its introduction to a larger community of potential clients that might include utilities, hospitals, corporations and government agencies. One of those experts is Sanjay Chandra, once an “intrapreneur” with the Energy Ventures Accelerator at Boeing Co., where he led global strategy and business development for hydrokinetics technology. Chandra worked with a Boeing partner company in Montreal, RER Hydro Ltd., on technology that became a pilot project on the St. Lawrence River in 2013. The hydro turbine looked a bit like a jet turbine — the motion of the river turned the blades to produce energy. It was significantly larger and less nimble than a V-Pod, he said, and although the project was a success, Boeing decided it no longer wanted to be in the energy business. Most of the competing turbines that emerged six years ago, when Verterra first attracted press attention, have gone away. “Ted did this in a unique way and that’s why this device is better than anyone else’s, in my opinion,” Chandra said. “When I worked for Boeing, I got to know a lot about the marketplace and the kind of devices that were available. Most of the companies building those devices are no longer in business because the devices did not work.” Bryan Sydnor, a former chief engineer at Boeing who worked with Chandra, joined the Verterra board, too. He works as chief technology officer of Long Beach, California-based Radio Hill Technologies Inc., which focuses on drones, or unmanned air systems. When he received an email with a photo of Christopher’s turbine he became a believer. “It was a plastic model of the V-Pod,” he recalled. “It was first time I saw a hydro solution that is deployable, effective and can be utilized worldwide.” The question of why the world needs another hydro turbine option is answered by Christopher with statistics and passion. More than a third of the world’s energy demands could be filled by hydropower, he said, and V-Pods are much less intrusive and environmentally destructive than typical stationary dams. Moreover, the energy generated would be “clean” in that it burns no fossil fuels, is renewable and provides energy 24 hours a day, unlike wind or solar, Christopher said. The market extends beyond governments and communities. The military — among the largest funders of clean-energy projects — has a desire for power sources that can be deployed in the field. The Defense Alliance, a St. Paul-based organization promoting defense technology innovation, gave Christopher its “Architect of Defense” award last year for his turbine. The world’s $5 trillion energy market could be ripe for more hydro, he believes, and Verterra’s turbine could work in many places with moving water — rivers, canals, irrigation ditches and ocean coastlines. Chandra believes V-Pods could play in important role in microgrids, which are seen today as valuable tools in dealing with natural disasters. Hospitals, cities and others could turn to microgrids — which often include solar or wind and battery storage — in cases where the larger electric grid has been knocked out. Potential clients “see this as part of their energy portfolio, with the idea of having a localized grid and an alternative source of power,” he said. “When natural disasters occur, communities could rely on the turbines for power.” Turning current into energy So, what makes the V-Pod so different? One clear distinction is that it sits directly in the water and does not block current. In contrast, the St. Anthony and Ford dams in Minneapolis and St. Paul use gravity — falling water — to move turbines, another common hydro system. As Sydnor and Chanda note, the typical design of small hydro turbines placed circular turbines with propeller-like blades on the bottom of rivers, where they could kill fish or stop functioning due to river debris. V-Pod’s design allows fish to pass over and past the turbine. The V-Pod’s design places the turbine on top of a sleek, oval-shaped platform that could pass for the outline of a spaceship. A narrow, flat back widens in the middle to hold the turbine before narrowing to a point. As the water flows over a V-Pod, a series of “fins” travel in a circle to create energy that is transmitted by submerged wire to the shoreline. Its footprint is small enough that it could be even be used in irrigation ditches. The modular deployment of V-Pods last year impressed MN Cup judges, who chose Verterra as a semi-finalist for the contest for Minnesota entrepreneurs. “The fact they were designed so individual units could be connected in series was what got attention,” said MN Cup judge Kenneth Brown, clean energy commercialization program manager at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Many communities around the world must import energy, he said, and the prospect of hydropower without dam construction led the judges to see the “potential for it to change lives,” he said. The design found support from the Department of Natural Resources, which summarized its findings in letters to Verterra. “Without the need for dams, the turbine would not affect fish passage, inundate habitat, alter temperature or nutrient regimes, or adversely affect channel stability as do dams and reservoirs,” wrote to Luther Aadland, a DNR river ecologist in the Division of Ecological Services and Waters. When Christopher first came up with his idea for V-Pods a decade ago, he asked a family member with a machine shop in San Diego to manufacture a model for him. The relative declined to do it, saying Christopher should come to San Diego and learn how to make the turbine himself. So, he did. Now the V-Pod has been through four generations of prototypes, with the current model measuring 20 feet long and 4 feet wide. The power generated by one V-Pod is 50 kilowatts, enough to power as many as 20 to 30 typical American homes. That might not seem like all that much power, but using several V-Pods together could make a difference, especially in countries where electricity is scarce. In a poor community in a developing country, a V-Pod could recharge cellphones and water purifiers, run computers, and power businesses. “Hydro can be incredibly transformative and impactful,” Christopher said. “It will allow these local economies to develop and increase their quality of life.” Like this article? Gain access to all of our great content with a month-to-month subscription. SPECIAL:  Start your subscription  with our low intro rate of just $9.99. Share this:

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Expert Collections containing Verterra Energy

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Verterra Energy is included in 1 Expert Collection, including Renewable Energy.

R

Renewable Energy

2,735 items

Includes companies working on technology to support renewable energy generation.

Verterra Energy Patents

Verterra Energy has filed 7 patents.

The 3 most popular patent topics include:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Gas turbines
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10/28/2015

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Wind turbines, Fluid dynamics, Aerodynamics, Gas turbines, Power station technology

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Wind turbines, Fluid dynamics, Aerodynamics, Gas turbines, Power station technology

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