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Born to be cool – Israeli technology puts the chill in motorcycle riders
Posted By David Brinn On October 17, 2004 @ 11:00 pm In | 1 Comment
The Entrosys air conditioning system is mounted behind the driver, and the cool air is pumped into a thermal undershirt worn under the rider’s clothing. If you’re a motorcycle rider, there’s not too many times of the year when you can feel comfortable riding in the elements. In the summer, all that protective clothing and helmet have you sweating buckets. And in the winter, despite all that protective gear, you’re just as likely to freeze your tootsies off.
But an Israeli physicist-turned-inventor has developed the air conditioned motorcycle – a novel solution that cools all those easy riders in the summer and warms them in the winter. And most importantly, as motorcycling fatalities in the U.S. rose for the sixth consecutive year during 2003 to 3,592, an increase of 11%, it will make motorcycle riding safer.
Glen Guttman and his company Entrosys have developed the prototype for the electronic unit powered by a standard motorcycle battery which funnels cold or warm air into a thermal undershirt worn under a motorcyclist’s heavy outer jacket.
“We’ve built the prototype for a personal climate control system. It’s a compact unit weighing about 8 pounds, and it’s mounted on the back of the cycle and connects to the battery. It drives cool or warm air via a hose connected to a vest the rider wears under his protective gear,” Guttman told ISRAEL21c. “A small keychain remote control unit enables the rider to control the unit.”
Guttman, who’s not a motorcycle enthusiast himself, said he came up with the idea after talking to friends who are bikers.
“Around the time I was doing my Ph.D. in the mid-90s, a friend of mine who is a motorcyclist visited me; he was all hot and sweaty from the humid Tel Aviv air. I looked at him and realized I could solve his problem,” Guttman said. “I began to develop the idea in 1997, but we didn’t formally establish the company until four years ago when we started raising funds.”
Guttman’s partner in Entrosys is Amir Makov, chair of the Israel Institute of Petroleum & Energy, and the former CEO of Haifa Chemicals and fuel company Sonol. Guttman said that he and Makov had already raised $500,000 from investors in France to develop a prototype and were hoping to move the system into production by mid-2005. He added that each unit would cost several hundred dollars, and initial marketing would be aimed at the U.S. and Europe.
“According to our plan, we hope to begin production during the second half of next year. People have come to us and said they love the idea. We had a visitor from Canada and he was thrilled at the heating aspect,” said Guttman. “In cooling, we have no competition, but in heating there are heating blankets and active heating with lots of electrical wiring over the body. However, there’s a psychological aversion to that, which our system solves.”
Guttman explained that the temperature controlled comfort that Entrosys is providing to bikers is just a means to an end. The ultimate benefit is making motorcycles safer on the road.
“We’re offering not only comfort but safety. When cyclists are hit with heat or cold fatigue because they’re exposed to the elements, they lose concentration making them more susceptible to accidents. We give them a micro-climate, a nice comfort zone that will keep them alert,” he said.
Unlike regular air conditioners, which rely on air compression, Entrosys’s miniaturized air conditioner relies on electronic technology in which various factors convert electric current into hot or cold air flow. Guttman has patented the innovation, in addition to registering a patent for its use as a solution for motorcyclists.
“The idea is straightforward. I just came to it from a different point of view — not through conventional AC technology, but through the perspective of a physicist,” he explained.
One of the French investors recently entered Entrosys in Tremplin Entreprises, a venture capital competition organized by the French Senate. Entrosys was the only Israeli company to survive to a final round of 30 companies presented to investors in a gala event on the Senate floor.
“We were invited to Luxembourg to receive the prize – it was great,” said Guttman.
More than that, he added, one of the senators ordered an air conditioner for trial use in a medical application, and a European microcar company launched talks on using the product to cool its drivers.
“The device has many more applications,” Guttman told Ha’aretz. “Security forces for instance or firefighters, can wear it under their gear. The device is lightweight so it is portable even if the wearer is moving. It is also applicable for drivers of tractors and heavy machinery. We opted for commercial application for drivers of motorcycles with 650 cc engines, because of their relatively high battery power.”
Guttman told ISRAEL21c that since he came up with idea, the difficult part has been implementing it.
“Once you think of an idea, it’s not so easy to implement it. You have to be a real entrepreneur. Maybe that’s why nobody has attempted this before,” he said.
But motorcyclists who are sweating it out on the roads may soon thank Guttman for persevering and making the air-conditioned motorcycle a standard for the future.
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