By Anne Servidad, Altitude Accelerator Communications Intern
The dangerously increasing amount of carbon and gas emissions has long plagued the environmental landscape, especially in North America. About 31% of these emissions result from transportation and since the Volkswagen scandal, the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere remains extremely potent. According to the Guardian, Volkswagen’s interference with test emissions leaves them responsible for 1 million extra tonnes of air pollution every year.
Manufacturers are looking for simple and cost-effective solutions that help them comply with strict emission regulations and reduce the amount of waste being released into the air. However, there not many options available in the market.
Roberto Fanara is the President of Customachinery with a mission to create a rotary engine that is able to deliver higher efficiencies and lower emissions. The design of the engine allows control over a scientifically proven method of combustion known as Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), to help automobile manufacturers meet emission standards and cut down on costs.
Internal combustion engines were always Roberto’s passion, and so the idea of Customachinery first began when he started working on a project in his spare time as a way to challenge himself and transform his ideas into validated solutions.
“I wanted to develop a rotary engine as I have always believed it is superior to reciprocating engines,” explains Roberto. “It can run much faster and produce more power in smaller volumes,”
After developing a concept design for the rotary engine, he filed two provisional patent applications in 2014 and started reaching out to government institutions to obtain funding for the creation of his engine.
“I kept developing the design of the engine and, in April 2015, I reconnected with Lenny Freilich at the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), who advised me about the SmartStart program. I was referred to Altitude Accelerator to begin my application process and arranged an intake meeting with Ehsan Daneshgar, Business Analyst at Altitude Accelerator,” says Roberto.
As a Altitude Accelerator client in the ideation stage, Roberto had access to various services crucial in his journey as an entrepreneur; services like mentorship, advisory, and seminars were all offered to him at no cost.
“The Altitude Accelerator played an instrumental role in helping me bring my technology forward. My business advisor, Ehsan, advised me about the importance of collaborating with academic partners,” Fanara states. “I had free access to invaluable market research that has been fundamental in developing a viable business model and start drafting a go-to-market strategy. It is helping me attract potential investors because that’s what they ultimately look for once the technology has been proven,”
Customachinery is currently collaborating with three academic institutions: Queens University, George Brown College, and Sheridan Pilon School of Business. Each of these partners play an important role in bringing this rotary engine to reality.
The project with Queen’s University is focused on modeling a complete thermodynamic cycle comprising fuel and air intake, compression, auto-ignition and combustion, expansion and exhaust phases. It establishes the physics in the operation of the engine and will guide the design of the first prototype.
George Brown College has chosen this technology as part of its capstone projects portfolio for two separate academic courses: Project Design I and Project Design II. They are also offering support manufacturing the first engine prototype, leveraging available funding from a Green Home initiative within the NSERC College and Community Innovation Program.
Sheridan Pilon School of Business has assigned this technology to a group of five graduating students who are analyzing the company’s business model, as part of their capstone project portfolio. They have also drafted a detailed business plan and a viable go-to-market strategy.
“All the institutions above give lots of credibility to the technology I am developing, which has also received a clear Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Technology feasibility, IP protection, and market viability are the three areas I am now leveraging in the effort to create key strategic partnerships in the industrial world,” says Fanara.
Cutomachinery is on an exciting journey of turning this concept into a working prototype for the world to see. There is definitely market research and validation to back up this rotary engine and with the help of partners from the ONE Network, the first engine will be available by October 2016.
“I have started filing a patent application in the USA and I will also file one in the European Union by September 2016. Right now, I am seeking a key industrial partnership to further develop the technology and license it to OEMs and automotive suppliers,” states Roberto.
To learn more about Customachinery and their journey to manufacturing a prototype, click here to visit their website.