The transcritical CO2 compressor developer is seeking a large buyer with the resources to take its units fully to market – and is offering a stalking-horse opportunity.
EcoThermics transcritical CO2 compressor
EcoThermics, a 10-year-old developer and pre-production manufacturer of a patented transcritical CO2 compressor, has hired Thomas Industries, Inc. to conduct an online auction to sell the company on August 10, 2017, at 1 pm EST, subject to 24-hour confirmation.
Prior to Friday, July 28, 2017, EcoThermics is offering the opportunity for a stalking-horse bid, which will provide a 10% consideration fee based upon the amount of the stalking-horse bid. If the stalking-horse bidder is outbid, they will receive payment in the amount of 10% of the stalking horse bid. Alternatively, if the stalking-horse bidder bids in excess of their stalking-horse bid and is the high bidder, they will receive a credit equal to 10% of their stalking horse bid. PLEASE NOTE: If EcoThermics does not receive an opening stalking-horse bid, the auction will take place as scheduled on August 10, 2017, with the assets being sold subject to 24-hour confirmation.
“The [EcoThermics] Board of Directors and shareholders have decided to sell the entire company, including all tangible and intangible assets, to a larger entity with greater resources,” said Merle Rocke, CEO, chairman and founder of EcoThermics, based in East Peoria, Ill. Prior to founding EcoThermics, Rocke was a longtime executive at Caterpillar.
EcoThermics’ semi-hermetic compressor, based on a high-pressure axial piston hydraulic pump technology, has been used successfully as a heat pump water heater at food processing facilities, including baked-goods manufacturer Country Maid, West Bend, Iowa; it has also been employed as a heat pump for simultaneous heating and cooling at restaurants, hotels and private residences, and is suitable for refrigeration applications.
Unfulfilled demand is a big part of the story. Hundreds of OEMs, dealers, distributors and end users have been requesting EcoThermics’ compressors and/or heat pump water heater systems using its compressors. The company has sold a number of pre-production compressor prototypes produced by Mennie Machine Co., Mark, Ill., to OEMs in North America, including Multistack, Sparta, Wis.
But EcoThermics has lacked the resources to meet the demand for its compressors at various capacities for a variety of applications. “EcoThermics is simply too small to take multiple models into production in an acceptable timeframe,” Rocke said. “It’s time to turn the opportunity over to a big global player with the resources to go full-speed ahead.”
““It’s time to turn the opportunity over to a big global player with the resources to go full-speed ahead.”
– Merle Rocke, EcoThermics
Rocke noted that while EcoThermics’ CO2 compressors have passed UL testing, they have not yet fully completed the UL certification process for a specific model because “we have not determined which specific compressor or compressors will go into production first.”
EcoThermics’ assets include seven fully granted patents (U.S. and international) as well as seven pending in the U.S. and five pending internationally; it also owns a compressor inventory and lab equipment.
The company has been developing four compressor models (small, medium, large and extra-large) with capacities ranging from five to 140 hp, operating up to 3,600 rpm, and displacement varying from 6.5 to 60 M3/hr. (at 50 hz). They feature smaller physical size than comparable compressors, vertical orientation and modulating capacity.
Rocke described the production costs of the compressors as “more than 10% lower” than that of other transcritical compressors. He also cited the quiet, low-vibration operation of the compressors as well as their reliability and durability.
EcoThermics’ first customer, Country Maid, in 2012 purchased a CO2 heat pump water heater (including the compressor, two heat exchangers, an electronic expansion valve and controls) manufactured entirely by EcoThermics. Saving $4,250 (25%) annually in energy compared to a natural-gas heat pump, the unit “paid for itself in 30 months,” said Rocke. The heat pump’s compressor delivers pressures up to 2,000 psi, producing hot water at up to 200°F as well as chilled water.
A heat pump water heater incorporating EcoThermics’ CO2 compressor can be “so much more economical than the cheapest natural gas model,” said Rocke, adding, “Companies want to be green but also save money.”
Heat pump applications have considerable “upside potential,” said Rocke, given the large amount of energy used globally to heat or cool air and water.