ENow Inc. CEO Jeff Flath was introduced to solar technology while working at the Cooley Group, the Pawtucket manufacturer of engineered fabrics, which was trying to incorporate photovoltaic cells into its billboards and roof membranes in the early 2000s. After Flath was replaced as Cooley Group president last year, he saw a new opportunity for solar power on the flat, sun-facing tops of tractor trailers and founded eNow. The Providence startup has designed solar systems that allow trucks to run their lights, air conditioners and radios without having to keep their diesel engines idling, using fuel and generating emissions.
Last month, eNow secured a $1 million loan guarantee from the state’s Job Creation Guaranty Program, the first and only loan guarantee under the program since the collapse of its first guarantee, to 38 Studios LLC, to begin scaling up a Rhode Island manufacturing facility.
PBN: Can you describe the system you are working on?
FLATH: We have developed our own [photo-voltaic] modules for the transportation industry. In short, we manufacture a system, solar is only part of the system, that turns a semi-truck trailer or a box-truck box into a power supply. In addition to producing energy from solar, we are able to capture energy if the truck is plugged in at night and we can take power from the alternator if need be constant if you go a number of days without sunshine, then the battery is still being charged. And in the future, we are working with companies on ways to take power from regenerative-break systems and engine-exhaust recovery systems that are stored in the battery-management system that we have developed with the solar panels. Power that is generated is used for a variety of truck-trailer functions, such as the cab itself, for no-idle, in-cab [heating ventilation and air-conditioning] systems. When a truck is sitting along the road, they do not have to run the engine for HVAC, communications or entertainment functions for the driver. We can provide power for electric gate- lift systems and safety-light applications.