ITHACA — Synairco, Inc. of Ithaca is trying to make air conditioning more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
The company is commercializing a new type of air conditioning that eliminates the use of harsh chemical refrigerants and uses less electricity than traditional systems, President Crista Shopis says.
The company recently won a $50,000 grant through the Syracuse Center of Excellence Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) to help move its technology closer to market. The money will allow Synairco to work with Air Innovations of Cicero to produce assembly drawings for a larger size system.
The prototype unit Synairco has crafted to this point is small and only suitable for residential use, Shopis says. The new unit would allow the company to test in a very large home or small office building.
The grant will reduce the engineering expense of creating the system so a potential early adopter would have to pay only for building the unit.
In addition to grants, Synairco expects to raise private financing at some point. Shopis says the firm is probably 18 months to two years from fully commercializing its system.
The company expects to build the units itself and sell them through representatives.
Since air conditioning was first developed, not much has changed, according to Synairco. The systems pass air over a coil maintained at a temperature of 45 degrees to cool and dehumidify it.
The process requires chemicals that are potentially hazardous and uses lots of electricity, Shopis says.
Synairco’s technology allows air to be cooled and dehumidified with a coil kept at 60 degrees. The higher temperature means geothermal technology can be used to maintain the correct coil temperature rather than refrigerants and a power-hungry condensing unit, according to the company.
The firm grew from Ithaca–based Taitem Engineering. Taitem President Ian Shapiro originally had the idea for the system and several years ago won some grant funding to analyze the concept and build a prototype. Shopis, who is also a project engineer at Taitem, worked on those early efforts.
She and Shapiro eventually connected with an Ithaca–area entrepreneur, Charles Hamilton, and began working out whether a company could be built around the new technology. A student at the Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management also helped in the effort.
The student, Adam Conderman, graduated in June and is now Synairco’s vice president of business development. Shapiro and Hamilton are board members.
Synairco shares space with Taitem at the moment, Shopis says. The company incorporated in January 2011.
In addition to winning the CAP grant, Synairco is in line for another grant, but Shopis says she can’t discuss details of that funding yet. The company also won $15,000 in last year’s Creative Core Emerging Business Competition. The firm won the contest’s green business category.