Clean Tech coalition returns to Los Angeles
Clean Tech Los Angeles, a multi-organizational coalition that aims to promote the licensing and commercialization of clean technologies, celebrates its one-year anniversary.
"$60 million will be divvied up among the three universities and the other Clean Tech collaborators, and will go towards the development of smart grid technology," said Mike Swords, executive director of strategic research initiatives at UCLA.
Originally published in the Daily Bruin
By Marcus Torrey
April marks the one-year anniversary of Clean Tech Los Angeles, a multi-organizational coalition that aims to promote the licensing and commercialization of clean technologies, such as wind power and smart grid technologies in Los Angeles.
To finance their goals, three major funding proposals to the state and federal government have been put together and one of them, for $60 million, has already been funded, said Michael Swords, executive director of strategic research initiatives at UCLA. The $60 million will be divvied up among the three universities and the other Clean Tech collaborators, and will go towards the development of smart grid technology.
Smart grid technology would attempt to modernize a city’s current electric grid, according to Rajit Gadh, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Wireless Internet for Mobile Enterprise Consortium, which pioneers smart grid technology research at UCLA.
This modernization would allow for many things, such as everyday citizens having the ability to remotely control the electricity usage at their residencies. By using cell phones, people could potentially lower residential energy use during peak hours, Gadh said.
Another one of these funding proposals, which was sent to the Department of Energy, was drafted by UCLA and outlines a plan to build a solar refinery hub. This refinery would convert solar energy into a carbon-based liquid fuel, which could potentially be 10 times more efficient than current technologies, said James Liao, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.
“Currently, solar energy cannot be used to produce a liquid fuel,” he said. “What we (want to) try to do is convert electricity (into) liquid fuel, which would store the energy in chemical bonds.”
By doing this, Liao said it would be possible to create a fuel that works with current car technologies and could be put directly into gas tanks.
UCLA would devote a large amount of laboratory space in its own California NanoSystems Institute to house this project, and the remainder of space would be provided in the CleanTech Manufacturing Center, Swords said.
The CleanTech Manufacturing Center, which will cover 75,000 square feet, is a development site that will be partially managed by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Community Redevelopment Agency. The Department of Water and Power approved the purchase of a building this week that will be the future location of this center, according to Swords.
Clean Tech plans to divide the center into three different sections, with one third of the area going towards the solar refining hub if it ends up being funded, one third going towards the development of clean technologies, and the final third acting as an incubator which would help license and commercialize such technologies, Swords said.
While the Clean Tech collaboration has a lot of affiliates, it lacks a single full-time staffer whose sole concern is Clean Tech, he said. But there are ways around this.
“We are still a virtual decentralized organization,” Swords said of the young partnership, referring to its use of technology to facilitate meetings between its variety of members. This includes biweekly conference calls.
The organization has already taken steps to amend the lack of full-time staff by applying for a 501(c)(3) designation, which would officially give the company a nonprofit tax standing with the Internal Revenue Service.
The long-term plan is to hire a few full-time staffers after obtaining nonprofit classification. These staffers would be paid by funding brought in by sponsors and a membership-driven structure, which would require members to pay annual dues, Swords said.
In addition to conference calls, Clean Tech partners meet once a month in city hall and have also established a committee structure to better manage the company’s tasks.
Clean Tech might not be a commonly known organization, but it is working to get its name out there.
Members at UCLA are creating a promotional video that will contain interviews of prominent figures involved with Clean Tech, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Swords said. The video will be premiering at a conference on green technologies in Anaheim in June, where Clean Tech hopes to distribute materials that will help promote its company and further its cause.
Published: Monday, May 03, 2010