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East County Saturday, May 28, 2022 1 month ago

Lakewood Ranch engineer wants to revolutionize air conditioning industry

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Eye on business: Eric Coffin seeks investors for his "Quad-Gen" air conditioning system.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

It can be hard to put a price on a dream, unless you are paying for rent and the materials to make one come true.

Lakewood Ranch's Eric Coffin said he can almost touch his dream now that he has been building a 3-ton, natural gas driven air conditioner for residential application called "Quad-Gen." He said the system, being built at his office/shop on Lena Road, will reduce by 50% the carbon footprint of current electrical air conditioners and can be operated at a quarter of the cost.

Coffin is a professional engineer, holds a worldwide license as a “Certified Energy Manager” and is president of his company, Green Energy Engineering.

His office is filled with research for the ages. He is surrounded by more than 2,000 books, notebooks and papers on energy. He has two bankers boxes filled with more than 350 U.S. Patents that deal with energy, engines, air conditioning and heat transfer. His number of charts are off the chart.

In the back of his shop is a prototype that can demonstrate the “Quad-Gen” concept. It is a mix of prevailing engineering, used parts, and Coffin's own ingenuity. Those who want to check out his theories can gather all the information they need on site.

Unfortunately, Coffin said he needs help to take his endeavor to the finish line. That means investment capital.

"I know the capital is out there because reading the Wall Street Journal for over 30-years, I see all these stories about money, billions, looking for an investment vehicle. My problem is I run with engineering birds, and investors run with investor birds. I just need the investor birds or donors to visit my nest and take a look at this prototype and see for themselves how this can help save the planet.”

He said it will take about $4.4 million to finish the prototype and get the company running.   

He said concepts of his invention are relatively simple, but have been ignored by current residential air conditioning companies.  His invention is an adaption of "Thermo King" equipment used for transport refrigeration. The "quad-generation" system would  provide four useful energy streams; air conditioning, dehumidification, potable hot water and refrigerator assist.

In an address to the 42nd annual Clearwater Conference in 2018, Coffin wrote  an apt description on "the fifth fuel" or energy efficiency.

"Consider the traveling salesman who puts 300 miles on his car each week and buys $4 per gallon gasoline," he wrote. "By trading in that 13 miles-per-gallon car for a new 35-miles-per-gallon car, he would save over $3,000 per year. Air conditioners have a miles-per-gallon and it is called the Energy Efficiency Ratio and is defined as BTU per hour of enjoyed cooling divided by watts of electricity painfully purchased at an outside temperature of 95 degrees. The higher the EER the better."

His papers can be read at GEEINTL.com

Obviously passionate about his field, Coffin said falling asleep on his desk is a common occurrence.

Much of that passion is related to helping the environment.

"People talk about climate change, but I want to do something tangible to reduce our carbon footprint. In 2018, according to the World Data Atlas, Florida emitted 510 billion pounds of CO2. To put this in perspective, look at all the 20-ton dump trucks driving around Lakewood Ranch. If my Quad-Gen invention were installed in just 10% of existing homes in Florida, we could reduce our carbon footprint by 25 billion pounds per year. That is enough to fill 625,000 dump trucks. I think it would be a great epitaph for my tombstone. He filled dump trucks with carbon dioxide to save the planet."

It's his way of giving back.

"I have been thinking of this concept of a residential 'Quad-Gen' machine for 25 years and in my 'retirement' decided to put form to function."

Lakewood Ranch's Eric Coffin can show investors how his air conditioning system works at his Lena Road shop in Bradenton.

Coffin said he can build a system that will run for 10,000 hours before it needs any maintenance, and his blueprint for a better air conditioning system for home use breaks the mold from the typical system purchased in Florida

Those who want to use his system would be making monthly payments to his company as opposed to buying a system outright. He said the monthly payments compare favorably to the price of buying a unit and paying for annual maintenance.

"You can subtract energy costs, which will be significantly lower with this system," he said. "Plus, those who make payments on this new system will have no maintenance costs because my company will take care of all the maintenance.” 

Once he receives financial backing, he would like to use the Lakewood Ranch area as a test case, installing 20 “Beta” units in homes to gather feedback. Eventually, the system would expand all over Florida and beyond.

He said the current giant companies that manufacture air conditioning systems know how to make these more efficient, less expensive units.

“They just don’t,” he said. “They are tooled for their electric units and don’t want to invest in new equipment. The industry is ripe for a change.”

Lakewood Ranch's Eric Coffin says his "Quad-Gen" system would reduce the carbon footprint made by current air conditioners by 50%.

 

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