I was pleased to present our TIDE program "Quad Chart" on February 25, 2022 to the DEFTECH coffee call community. The North Carolina Defense Technology Transition Office | NC DEFTECH is a state-funded organization connecting North Carolina companies with the DOD and other government entities, supporting warfighters with cutting edge technology. The TIDE program ("TIDE" | NC DEFTECH) boils down a company's pitch into a single quad chart. While our solution is still at a technology readiness level of 3, it has so many dual-use applications we were asked to present for Q1.
The Quad Chart for Persistent Aerostats
These were my remarks:
Good morning. We are an early stage company dedicated to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from long haul heavy lift transportation, with a novel vacuum lift technology.
As our first stage of R&D, we’re tackling the challenge of creating a truly Persistent tethered aerostat.
Aerostats are useful for many types of sensors and comms equipment, but existing solutions all use helium. Helium is expensive, non-renewable, relatively rare on Earth and tied to the natural gas industry. It also leaks…leading to a need to regularly winch aerostats down in order to top them off.
Our solution to the helium problem is vacuum lift. This concept was first proposed in the late 1600’s, but has not been feasible until now. With modern materials and Anuma Aerospace’s patent pending structure and control system, it’s now possible to float an aerostat without any lifting gas.
With an onboard vacuum pump, the altitude of the aerostat can be adjusted easily, and no refills of lifting gas are required.
Our designs also incorporate green tech power sources such as wind and solar to allow for extremely long duration missions with zero negative environmental impact or the need for refueling.
Depending on the use case, sensors and comms equipment can be deployed at various altitudes to provide comprehensive situational awareness.
We are still early stage, working on our lab proof of concept. Our most recent test performed significantly better than the prior iterations, and provided us with a wealth of data which is informing the current design. We’re on track to have a full-scale demonstration of vacuum lift by early next year.
We’ve submitted two Phase I SBIR proposals to NOAA to perform feasibility studies on applying vacuum lift to wildfire sentinels and weather data collection – these are our currently planned Stages 1 and 2 of product development on the runway towards cargo airships. These smaller scale aerostats will allow us to earn early revenue, solve technical challenges in an orderly progression, and work with government regulatory agencies on certification.
Beyond the transformative impact to the autonomy, persistence and performance of aerostats, our long-term impact on greenhouse gas emissions is calculated to be 9.4 Gigatonnes by 2050 via the long haul heavy lift cargo airships. Each stage on our development runway is designed to have its own significant impact on climate security and environmental sustainability.
The current aerostat market is strong, with a few key players such as TCOM and Carolina Unmanned Vehicles here in North Carolina – but the current tech has problems with long-term persistence which is a barrier to wider adoption. Vacuum lift solves these problems affordably and sustainably.
We can think of dozens of uses: military; commercial; surveillance; humanitarian; disaster early detection and response; comprehensive weather data; communications, etc. We’d love to work with potential customers now to ensure our solutions meet their requirements. Over.