More efficient and sustainable energy sources are increasingly being seen as not just important, but critical for the future of industry and for the planet itself. New York State has recognized the need for clean energy technologies and has been increasingly seen as a hub for clean energy in the United States. BRASHPower, originally from Connecticut, has been drawn to New York and has set their base of operation in Downtown Binghamton’s Koffman Southern Tier Incubator.

Michael Brookman, CEO of BRASH, recently took first article delivery of his company’s revolutionary new home heating system. Partially designed and fully manufactured in the EU with BRASH’s patented technologies, this unit is the first initial product of 20 units meant to act as a test bed to refine the product for the American market.

“This is a first generation product with all the core attributes, but designed in a way that early customers can provide feedback for improvement,” said Brookman.

The unit is designed for use in the home as a replacement for a home furnace or boiler system. It produces reliable electrical power on demand, cuts the homeowner’s monthly energy cost in half and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The BRASH design fits in the space of a home furnace or boiler, costs about the same, and works well with other clean, Distributed Generation solutions, like Solar PV.

“Many homes have furnaces or boilers that are 40-50 years old, and only get replaced when the unit fails,” explains Brookman.

“We are providing an incentive for early replacement with a much more efficient cycle offering heat as well as power generation. It means never having to worry about being stuck in a blizzard — you will stay warm and the power stays on.”

A big reason BRASH located its business operations in Binghamton are the resources available for a company in the clean energy space.

BRASH is a member of the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator (SCI), funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) SCI strives to start, attract, and grow clean energy companies to drive economic growth and further Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals. Launched last year, the incubator has provided guidance, support and connections for BRASH to help the company succeed.

Brookman also participated in the Innovation Binghamton I-Corps program, a National Science Foundation funded course that provides guidance and funding to researchers with the goal of performing customer discovery and validating customer markets for a product or service.

“We learned a lot through the I-Corps process, it has changed my thinking completely. Through interviewing customers we identified key characteristics customers want and have captured those in this unit,” said Brookman.

Alongside business and strategic guidance, technical assistance has been available through Binghamton University Watson School of Engineering. In addition to help from faculty and staff, BRASH is sponsoring a graduate student’s participation through a program called Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR). This student is refining the operating characteristics of a key part of the BRASH product: its working fluid that transfers heat to the power generating rotor, making more power from the same amount of heat.

BRASH is also sponsoring a team of five undergraduate engineering students in their senior Capstone project. These students are revising the BRASH product design based upon feedback on those first twenty systems being delivered from Europe. Goals for this team are to make the finished product easier to move to the homeowner’s location, simplify the installation, and help to reduce the product cost to the homeowner.

Many of those first twenty systems will be evaluated by local utilities in the US and Canada. Placement of these early products will result in many suggestions for improvement:

“Technology that changes the status quo can cause problems for existing organizations, like utilities or installers. Our strategy is to work with these organizations on the front end, to address their concerns, so they can see firsthand the benefit of harvesting additional energy capacity from these installed homes and using it productively,” said Brookman.

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-Cory Kimmell