One man’s trash is … this Boston cleantech startup’s treasured chance to optimize energy production. Loci Controls announced on Thursday that it has scored $765,000 in seed funding to refine its technology for automating the harvest of methane from landfills. CommonAngels, Launch Capital and several other local angels participated in the round, much of which will go toward commercializing Loci’s green technology and powering its pilot program, planned for this April.
The company, which is currently working out of local seed-stage fund and hardware accelerator BOLT, has developed hardware and software that monitors the methane gas characters generated from decomposing organic waste in landfills. After the gas is collected with a vacuum extraction system, it can then be processed and used as fuel to generate electricity, which can be used on-site, or sold to the grid.
Loci was founded by MIT graduates Andrew Campanella and Melinda Hale. While Hale was completing her PhD in mechanical engineering, Campanella was finishing his master’s in system design and management. Prior, Campanella worked at WiTricity, another local cleantech company. “I basically went back to school to meet a co-founder and start something of my own,” Campanella told BostInno via email. And shortly after the two like-minded innovators met at their alma mater’s entrepreneurship center in 2012, they decided to do just that.
Ever since, the duo has been driven to turn those heaps of composted materials into energy and profit. And with Loci’s first deployment deal with New Bedford, Mass.-based Crapo Hill Landfill and CommonWealth Resource Management Corp. done, the startup will soon have the opportunity to put their hardware and software into action. Crapo Hill Landfill has served as the company’s test site since 2012, but Loci’s upcoming pilot, which is set for April 2014, is the first true test of its technology.
Noted Campanella on the pilot and the startup’s future:
We’ve demonstrated the technology at the proof of concept level, but our first task will be to prove it out at full scale at our pilot site in New Bedford. We have recently brought on some top notch hardware and software engineers, and we’ll continue to expand the team as needs arise. Our goal for the next year is to get our technology installed at three to five customer sites and start generating revenue.
Helping Loci achieve said goal are CommonAngels investor Peter Quigley, who will join the company’s board, and hardware accelerator BOLT. Quigley is the founder and former CEO of Fiberspar, a major Texas manufacturer of spoolable, fiber-reinforced pipe for oilfields. “In the long run we may find other applications in the oil and gas industries, so Peter’s experience running one of North America’s fastest growing oilfield services companies is hugely valuable,” noted Campanella.
The company’s stint in BOLT has also proved fruitful. “It can be extremely helpful to get a second set of eyes on an engineering problem, and the Bolt staff have a great breadth of expertise in mechanical, electrical, and manufacturing design and can help you from getting tunnel vision,” noted the founder, also adding that Loci hopes to stay housed in BOLT until they outgrow it or are asked to leave.
The company just hired two engineers in February, and has plans to add two to three more later in the year. Including today’s round, Loci has raised $815,000 in funding. The company was also recently awarded a grant under the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Catalyst program.