Fallbrook Spinout Viryd Technologies Raises $2.2 Million for Wind Turbine Technologies

5/21/09Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s Fallbrook Technologies spent a decade developing its innovative transmission technology before it finally raised $25.4 million in its first round of venture funding four months ago. Before that, the company had raised $25 million from more than 80 private investors.

Now it’s happening again at Viryd Technologies, a Fallbrook spinout that is adapting Fallbrook’s proprietary NuVinci transmission technology exclusively for use in power-generating wind turbines. Viryd disclosed in a securities filing earlier this week that it has raised more than $2.2 million of what it expects will be a $4 million round of equity financing.

viryd-wind-turbineAmazingly, considering the contracting economy, all of the $2.2 million was raised from individual investors, Fallbrook CEO Bill Klehm told me yesterday. He also said Viryd has recruited John Langdon as CEO. Langdon was previously a manager at Heliovolt, a Texas cleantech energy company that makes advanced photovoltaic cells using a combination of copper, indium, gallium and selenium.

Klehm, who also is a Viryd director, said the current $4 million round in angel funding is being raised on top of $3 million that was designated for Viryd in the $25.4 million venture round that Fallbrook’s raised in January. “In this current environment, topping off an existing round is easier than going off and raising a new round with a whole new group of investors,” Klehm said.

Of course, it’s also nice to be able to return to the same angel investors for additional funding. In addition to Klehm, Viryd’s board includes Gary Jacobs, a San Diego angel investor, philanthropist, and son of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, and Gary Weiss, whose Weiss Group provides management, advisory, financing and executive search services to growth companies.

NuVinci transmission

NuVinci transmission

Klehm, Jacobs, and Weiss also serve on the boards at Fallbrook and at Geo2 Technologies, a Woburn, MA, company that makes specialized, high-temperature ceramic materials for use in filtration and catalytic conversion products.

Fallbrook has been developing its NuVinci continuously variable transmission primarily for use in transportation, including bicycles, electric carts, and eventually automobiles. But Viryd, as a NuVinci technology licensee, represents more of a pure play in cleantech wind energy. Klehm said the NuVinci transmission is ideally suited for wind turbines because its continuously variable design adjusts seamlessly as a drive train accelerates and decelerates. Because there are no gears, the system provides an infinite number of gear ratios between its highest and lowest speeds.

“The value proposition at Viryd is that God makes the wind blow at variable speeds,” Klehm said. “Our transmission allows you to absorb changes in wind speed while maintaining the same output speed to the generator. We can sync with the grid because we can stabilize the generator’s speed.”

Other wind-turbine designs incorporate conventional transmissions with fixed gear ratios. According to Klehm, that’s less efficient and requires more expensive generators to accommodate the varying speed of a windmill’s drive train. With the funding disclosed this week, Klehm said, “We’re now in the process of demonstrating the NuVinci technology in a wind turbine.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Sam Kossoff

    Sam,

    Interesting and positive article about Fallbrook Technolgies and their spin off company called Viryd Technolgoies.

    Eric