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UCF student taking his professor’s energy-storage tech to market


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 19th, 2017

A University of Central Florida student is heading a promising start-up based on his professor’s energy-storage invention.

Capacitech Energy LLC is being led electrical engineering junior Joe Sleppy. The company has licensed the invention created by his professor, Jayan Thomas, from UCF. Thomas, who is a company co-founder, invented a way to design easily customizable capacitors needed for electronic circuits, which could solve a big problem for manufacturers.

The innovation is a copper wire-based capacitor that could significantly reduce the cost of producing electronic devices. Because a typical electronic device can require many different size capacitors, manufacturers typically need to keep many different sizes in stock. Since Capacitech’s technology contains capacitor functions within a wire, an electronics company could buy a spool of the cable capacitor and cut the wire at customized lengths to meet their needs, reducing both unit costs and inventory costs.

The start-up sees multiple potential uses for the copper cable, including replacing capacitor banks on cell towers to reduce the rent paid on the tower, using the cables in transmission lines that are capable of storing solar energy in homes and offices, sewing clothes with an energy-absorbing thread that would allow a cell phone to be charged in a suit pocket, and manufacturing smaller and lighter electronic devices.

Capacitech is getting its share of attention, having won the UCF College of Business Joust award in 2016 and featured in Nature. The technology was also awarded an Oscar of Innovation at the 2015 R&D 100 Awards and named a finalist at the 2014 World Technology Network Awards.

Sleppy and Thomas both credit UCF’s entrepreneurial support services — specifically the Office of Research and Commercialization’s I-Corps program and the College of Business’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership — with helping them bring the business along to this point. “The university and the I-Corps program have given us a place and time to explore different business models to ensure we had a feasible path forward,” Sleppy said.

Source: UCF Today

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