Extracted from University of Waterloo's story on September 21, 2020
When investors logged in to Y Combinator’s virtual summer 2020 Demo Day, they got to see Waterloo entrepreneurship in action. Four companies with ties to Velocity and the University of Waterloo took part in the event, including one co-founded by a recent Math alumnus, which brought together a class of 198 of founders from 26 different countries.
Intelline was born out of the University of Waterloo Problem Lab, a one-of-a-kind resource that challenges students to create ventures of significant economic and social consequences. By focusing on the problem and not the solution, the Problem Lab sets the stage for truly innovative ideas. Back in 2017, co-founders Kyle Faller and Chris Mathew (BMath ’20) won the first-place prize at the Problem Pitch Competition, earning $4,000 to fund research and development to help address the prohibitive cost of cryocooling methods.
Their next stop for Intelline was the 2018 Velocity Fund Finals, where they picked up an extra $10,000 to help fund the hardware they needed to create a more affordable cryocooling system for commercial use. As they continued testing, their designs have evolved into a linear generator technology that can save fuel and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Intelline’s diesel generators use 40 per cent less fuel and are propelling their business success. They showed off their technology to the mining industry at the annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada conference in March 2020, generating considerable interest from customers looking to save on costs. They project that the technology can save a mine operation $35 million a year.
The Intelline Modular Linear Generator (MLG) is modular, meaning that the units can be scaled to add generating capacity and grow with a business. The MLG is cost-competitive and more efficient, and it’s eliminated many of the moving parts found in traditional engines, resulting in a fivefold extension of the lifetime between rebuilds.
“Our generators are truly a direct replacement for traditional generators, making it easy for customers to make the switch to more efficient technology without having to invest heavily in new infrastructure, says Faller. “We want them to start using less diesel ASAP, but our technology is also designed to work with other fuel types without having to change the hardware."
Next year, the plan is to test a hybrid generator application, then in a rail vehicle as the team explores the possible applications of the MLG in a world where fleets traditional diesel and natural gas engines will require new, modern replacements.
“We imagine a future where mining operations, remote communities, ships, trains, and construction equipment are all powered by Intelline generators, and our products can become a driving force in the transition to sustainable zero-carbon fuels," says Faller.