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SBIO Interview: Tremont Electric, The nPowerPEG

Has it ever happened to you? A long day of travel. A dearth of electrical outlets. And a phone/music player/gaming console running on its last electronic fumes.

In 2010 Tremont Electric became an SB Innovation Open finalist by developing an environmentally friendly source of electricity, the nPowerPEG (Personal Energy Generator) which can assist in just that sort of situation. The nPowerPEG is designed to harness kinetic energy from movement – by being carried or worn while the wearer is walking, jogging, or riding a bike – and convert it into a form that can re-charge most hand-held devices. See how it works.

Any recollections of The Windup Girl’s kink-spring technology aside, this personal use device is slim, modern, and – of course – utterly non-dystopian. Furthermore, the nPower model is capable of being scaled up or down – to fit the needs for biomechanical implants (such as pacemakers) or to utilize ocean wave motion and convert that to energy for commercial uses.

Tremont Electric is a Green Plus organization located in Cleveland, Ohio. Jill LeMieux, vice president of marketing, explains that they have endeavored to maintain a small carbon footprint there by keeping connected with local suppliers and manufacturers. Their first production put a few thousand nPowerPEGs into the hands of outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, long distance business travelers, and people interested in emergency preparedness. After several months’ of redesign to accommodate a different internal battery, they look forward to selling their products online. Founder and CEO Aaron LeMieux notes that it is particularly interesting that the department of defense is keen to move in a more sustainable direction, shifting to use clean technologies in order to wean off their petroleum dependency.

Tremont Electric has captured other attentions as well: a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal Fast Company named Tremont Electric as one of the 10 most innovative companies in consumer electronics; and they were recently named a finalist in the 2012 Edison Awards.

Aaron LeMieux, founder and CEO of Tremont ElectricAaron, who presented on stage for Tremont Electric in 2010, remembers that the SBIO was a wonderful experience. “It was reassuring,” he said, “to see sustainability officers from major corporations like Nike and Starbucks there.” His interaction with the audience and with other participants validated his sense that the business practices Tremont Electric subscribes to were cutting-edge and significant. It made for a meaningful break for him in his day-to-day routine. Jill adds that the Aaron’s enthusiasm was contagious throughout their office after his return to Cleveland.

For new start-ups Aaron warns that their development and maintenance takes a tremendous amount of effort, and advises watchfulness because it is easy to overload. He recommends attending events such as the SBIO, because there is so much to learn there from others about sustainable business models. From their experience, he says, “You’ve got the opportunity to learn how to do it right the first time. So take that opportunity.”

UPDATE!

The PowerPeg is helping Crisis Mappers and looking for crowdfunding support through IndieGoGo. Watch the video below and go to their campaign page to contribute your support.

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