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Meet L-Tug, All-Electric Airport Baggage Tractor Remanufactured from Worn-Out Gasoline Powered Unit

March 4, 2011

Last week the CleanTech LA team took a trip to visit Victory Ground Support Equipment operations in Downtown LA where the company has produced a first of its kind all-electric airport baggage tractor, the L-Tug. The L-Tug stems from a year and a half of development between two Los Angeles companies, A & V Rebuilding along with its sister company Victory GSE and PowerForce; the parties have joined forces to remanufacture airport baggage tractors from polluting gasoline powered units into zero emissions electric vehicles.

CleanTech LA brought together representatives from Victory GSE, A & V Rebuilding, and PowerForce to meet with Los Angeles International Airport officials to discuss opportunities for collaborative efforts to achieve smarter and cleaner airport vehicle solutions.

A & V Rebuilding and PowerForce have combined their respective expertise to develop the first lithium powered battery all electric non-polluting vehicle that is both powerful and economical for airport applications. A & V Rebuilding and Victory GSE have been leaders in high quality remanufacturing of airport vehicles for over 50 years. Rather than disposing of their worn out vehicles, A & V Rebuilding is leveraging the opportunity to ‘up-cycle’ (conserve materials and energy during manufacturing phase through recycling while improving environmental impacts during use phase) to a cleaner next generation vehicle that operates like-new. PowerForce designs and builds advanced lithium power storage systems that include batteries, chargers and management electronics for several industries. Pairing the lower cost of a refurbished airport vehicle with state of the art storage systems is a great example of forging partnerships to help save the environment. This partnership has translated into practical and economical solutions for engaging airports into a sustainable practice while pursuing business opportunity in clean technology.

The L-Tug, is as powerful and reliable as its diesel counterpart, but much more environmentally friendly; it is capable of towing up to 50,000 lbs of cargo while emitting zero pollution.

The L-Tug was recently debuted at this year’s Cygnus Aviation Expo in Las Vegas on February 23rd to 25th. The representatives from Victory GSE, A & V Rebuilding, and PowerForce expressed excitement and are proud to be part of Los Angeles clean technology evolution.


LA’s Cleantech Employers Recruit Local Business and Engineering Students at Cleantech Career Night

February 7, 2011

On February 1st, CleanTech Los Angeles hosted the inaugural Cleantech Career Night at the USC Davidson Conference Center.  In attendance were over 100 top MBA and graduate-level engineering students from UCLA, USC, and Caltech as well as representatives from 21 clean technology companies from throughout Southern California.

The networking event presented an opportunity for students interested in full-time positions or summer internships to meet with firms in the clean technology sector.  After brief company introductions, students broke into individual conversations with employers regarding their business needs, growth plans and career opportunities.

Cleantech Los Angeles would like to thank all the companies who participated, including the event’s four Silver Sponsors: Cyber-Rain, FlexEnergy Inc., Quallion LLC, and SolarWorld.

Following this successful inaugural event, CleanTech LA will incorporate career networking events into its regular programming.  If you are an employer or student interested in participating in the next Cleantech Career Night, or would like to learn more about future events, please contact us at

Presenting employers included:

OnGreen connects the world

December 8, 2010

Still connecting sustainable ideas with funding, now in more places.

OnGreen, the company based in L.A. which connects people with innovative, environmentally sustainable ideas to entrepreneurs interested in those ideas, has continued to grow its membership internationally. The OnGreen user base now represents over 150 countries, and over a third of members are from outside of the U.S. The most represented countries, after the U.S., are India, Ukraine, France, and the U.K.  Meanwhile, emerging markets Russia and China are also heavily represented, at #7 and #8, respectively.

This pie chart shows the relative composition of OnGreen members by country.

According to OnGreen, over 60% of their site visits in the past year have been from new visitors, which suggests an increasing interest in cleantech deals, patents, and green jobs. OnGreen’s rapid globalization suggests that while some of our environmental problems may stem from globalization, our environmental solutions will likewise  come from the global community.

Electric Vehicles: “Plugging in” Where Our Past Meets the Future

December 3, 2010

Old school...

You might think you are an early adopter if you drive an electric vehicle, but you are more than 150 years late to the game. The world’s first electric vehicle (EV) was built in 1832 by the Scottish inventor Robert Anderson, and the first with a rechargeable lead-acid storage battery was built in 1859 by the French physicist Gaston Planté. New York City had electric taxis hitting their streets as early as 1897. By the turn of the 20th century, 28 percent of all the vehicles produced in the US were powered by electricity, and Thomas Edison (pictured above, right), believing that all the cars of the future would run on electricity, dedicated roughly ten years of his life trying to create a long-lasting battery that would be powerful enough for commercial use.

Then Henry Ford introduced the gas-powered Model T in 1908 and the rest, as they say, is history. That roar in the 1920s could have been the sound of the gas-powered automobile prevailing – the electric car was no longer in demand.

The electric vehicle re-emerged in 1966 with early concern over the impact of petroleum-based transportation. Nascent environmental awareness coupled with the spike in oil prices experienced in the 70s led to continued interest in EVs and the funding of their research and development for decades.

But it was not until 1997, with the release of the Toyota Prius hybrid (pictured below), that commercial success was achieved and an EV mass-produced. school...

The more recent resurgence of electric vehicle activity, with gasoline prices again on the rise and environmental policies taking effect world-wide, has encouraged many automotive manufacturers, in North America, Europe and Asia, to launch commercial models into the market.

Electric vehicles are thus not a new concept, but they continue to face some difficult challenges that have prevented them from becoming ubiquitous.

First, battery life and the limit this puts on the distance an EV can travel was an issue in the past and remains a concern today. While the technology has improved (the Chevy Volt has a range of 40 miles on a single charge, Nissan’s new LEAF model (pictured below) claims to have a 100-mile range, and Tesla’s Roadster, an astounding 200-mile range), it still imposes a radius of accessibility around the consumer’s residence and establishes a boundary of potential inconvenience. Publicly-accessible charging stations and battery-swapping stations are ways to remove these boundaries, but these require an investment into electric vehicle infrastructure. The widespread and easy availability of gasoline was one of the main contributing factors to the demise of the early electric vehicles, and the current lack of EV infrastructure imposes a major hurdle to their adoption today.

...and even newer school.

A second barrier has been their cost premium over gas-powered automobiles. EV sticker prices can run thousands of dollars above comparable gas-powered automobiles, and EV owners face additional costs associated with the purchase, installation and maintenance of charging equipment. On the other hand, EV owners can save money on oil changes that are required much less frequently with EV than with gas-powered cars, and tax credits promise to offset some of the higher costs of electric vehicles.

The United States will benefit greatly from creating national policies, as have many other countries–such as Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, and others—which have incentivized EV use through purchase subsidies and publicly funded charging stations.

Nonetheless, the promise of EVs is evident. The cost of charging a battery using renewable energy is less than a fill-up from a gasoline pump, and in the long run conversion to electric vehicles will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Above all, the near-zero emissions of EVs will immediately help meet our global goals for carbon reduction.

Locally, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) has formed an “e-Mobility” working group to address the issue of local EV infrastructure, and is working to develop a comprehensive LA County Electric Vehicle Deployment Community Blueprint to catalyze and support LA County’s EV cluster.   Perhaps Los Angeles will soon realize the vision that began with Thomas Edison over a century ago…

Contributed by:

Shannon Sedgwick
Economic and Policy Consulting Department
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)

Find more information about the effort to promote EVs in Southern California at SoCalEV or contact JoAnne Golden, Manager of Public Policy, Strategic Initiatives (T: 213.236.4837) with the LAEDC to get involved with the “e-Mobility” working group.

Made in LA: Spectrolab has Conquered the Heavens, Now Focusing on Planet Earth

December 1, 2010

Spectrolab's Logo

Last week the CleanTech LA team took a trip to Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley to check in on local cleantech firm Spectrolab, the market leader in space-based solar energy products.

Spectrolab, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company, provides power to hundreds of satellite and interplanetary spacecraft.  The company is also expanding into concentrating solar cells for the emerging renewable energy market. Spectrolab currently employs 450 people in research, design, manufacturing, and sales of its solar energy products, as well as solar simulators and airborne searchlight systems.

Founding of Spectrolab. Notice the Los Angeles hills in the background.

Spectrolab was established in 1956, when LA serial technology entrepreneur
Alfred Mann brought together a group of engineers to provide high-quality optical filters and mirrors for use in government contracts. Spectrolab established its credibility in the nascent space industry with Pioneer 1 in 1958 and the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969 – the mission included the installation of the first solar panel on the moon.  Since those early days, Spectrolab has become the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of space solar cells and panels.

As the manufacturer and primary solar cell and panel supplier to nearly all satellite contractors, Spectrolab products have powered more than 500 successful space missions, including the International Space Station, and numerous interplanetary missions to Mars and the first deep space mission to Jupiter, to U.S. military defense programs, and to cost-conscious commercial applications such as for broadcasting and telephony. Spectrolab is also applying this interplanetary expertise to a more local market: Planet Earth.

This may be the most efficient solar cell you've ever seen.

Spectrolab’s scientists build and test solar cells for terrestrial solar modules that use lenses or mirrors to concentrate the intensity of the sun’s rays up to 1,400 times onto a very small, highly efficient Spectrolab cell.  These modules are assembled into systems by 3rd parties and installed in large scale arrays that track the sun’s movement across the sky. In 2009, Spectrolab set a new world record for terrestrial concentrator solar cell efficiency by converting 41.6 percent of concentrated sunlight into electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado independently verified this record setting performance.

Open the image in a new tab or window to see a larger view.

Yeah, that's right. Spectrolab is the only one to reach 36 percent efficiency.

U.S. terrestrial solar sales are on track to reach about one gigawatt this year, equivalent to the size of a nuclear reactor. As a global leader in space solar power, Spectrolab has the strong research team, the stability of existing contracts, and manufacturing capacity to succeed in the terrestrial solar market.

Bringing the power of the sun home.

For the U.S. solar sector to achieve the cost efficiencies of fossil fuel power plants, it needs to develop solar power plants at scale using highly efficient solar cells. Companies like Spectrolab are putting Los Angeles in a leadership position in this cutting-edge field.

Interested in an Electric Vehicle?

November 23, 2010

Los Angeles Has the Advantage

Los Angeles has a remarkable competitive advantage in the race to be the electric car capital of the world. We own our electric utility – the largest municipal utility in the country – and we run building & safety permitting and inspections. As such, we are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of EV owners in permitting and inspecting home charger installations. Thanks to collaboration between LADWP and the Department of Building and Safety, we have streamlined the permitting, inspection and meter installation process for electric vehicle owners in the city of Los Angeles.

The Future for Automobiles

At the opening of the 2010 LA Auto Show, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and First Deputy Mayor and LADWP General Manager Austin Beutner announced the City is offering instant online EV home charger permitting approval and expedited charger inspection and meter installation through a utility program that will help residential electricity customers go from permit to plug-in for home electric vehicle chargers in under 7 days, provided the customer’s electrical system can support the charging requirements.

A home charger is essential for EV owners but the “Level 2” charger, which is fast and also ideal for overnight charging, requires light construction for installation. Approvals and inspections for installation can easily become mired in bureaucratic red tape – but not in LA, where we have worked to make the process as immediate as possible so EV buyers can plug in and go. Permits can be obtained instantly at PermitLA and the City will inspect the installation within 24 hours of request.

In Los Angeles, we enable our residents to embrace clean technology. Learn more about the LA EV Advantage:

OnGreen is OnTrack for Expanding Operations

November 10, 2010

Los Angeles-based OnGreen announced yesterday that it has secured $1.4 million in Series A funding from an international partnership of Blue Marble Ventures (here in Los Angeles), and China Southern Hong Kong Investment (over in Shanghai).


Connecting sustainable ideas with funding


OnGreen uses a LinkedIn-style platform to connect innovators working on environmentally sustainable ideas with entrepreneurs looking to invest in such ideas. According to CEO and founder of OnGreen, Nikhil Jain, “more than 250 deals have been posted from 30 countries, with around 30% of those hailing from outside of the U.S. so far.” Aside from connecting environmentally conscious innovators with like-minded and eager investors, OnGreen also facilitates feedback to encourage refined and innovative products.


The OnGrean Team


Jain plans to use the funding to create a Chinese version of the OnGreen website, to build his company’s presence in China and India over the next year, and to start a patent exchange in collaboration with the University of Southern California Energy Institute. We recently publicized OnGreen’s partnership with USC and MWD to bring together technologies and investors at a green technology showcase on November 16, 2010.

Moreover, OnGreen plans to generate revenue from advertising, lead generation, events, custom research, and other sources. Jain expects the company to become profitable by the end of 2011.

Other links for information are found below: