Canadian engineers take on winter
University of Waterloo nano-tech spin-off takes the sting out of icy windshields.
Any Canadian driver knows the pain of chipping stubborn frost off a windshield on a bitter winter morning but a nano-tech spin-off from the University of Waterloo may have a solution. The startup company with a product by the same name is close to commercializing an environmentally friendly spray called Neverfrost that prevents frost, fog and ice formation.
“Frost is a major problem for individuals and businesses daily,” said Abhinay Kondamreddy, a nanotechnology engineering University of Waterloo graduate who developed Neverfrost along with three classmates. “Not only is it inconvenient but it has an impact on safety and can even hinder economic activity.”
According to Kondamreddy, drivers can clear a frosty windshield in the morning with their wipers by spraying Neverfrost on a windshield the night before. Future plans for Neverfrost include incorporating it directly into washer fluids.
Neverfrost, the company, expects to begin taking pre-orders for the spray with a Kickstarter campaign in March for consumer market but the young company foresees potentially expanding into aircraft, air conditioning, power lines and agriculture applications in the future.
Neverfrost is part of the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity startup incubator program and is set to become one of the first companies to operate out of the new VeloCity Foundry — a workspace that will provide hardware-based startups with free access to machinery, tools and prototyping equipment, as well as testing, wet lab and assembly space.
Kondamreddy is also one of two University of Waterloo entrepreneurs to share in a $60,000 Scientists and Engineers in Business fellowship, a University of Waterloo program supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for promising entrepreneurs who want to commercialize their innovations.
The other fellowship recipient is Waterloo Engineering graduate Raqib Omer, who has developed an automated salt logging and tracking system, called the Smart Scale. Designed for the winter maintenance industry, the Smart Scale accurately logs where and how much salt is dispensed by road maintenance vehicles using specially designed hardware wirelessly paired with any GPS-enabled smart phone.
To date, more than 20 winter maintenance contractors in Canada and the U.S. currently use Smart Scale. One of those 20, Ayr, Ontario-based Urban Meadows Property Maintenance Group, has installed the salt tracking device on all four of its trucks, which service 75 properties in Cambridge and Ayr.
“We’re now able to accurately monitor salt usage, prevent excessive material use, keep bullet-proof records of our work and job-cost a lot better,” said Urban Meadows owner, William Jordan. “The real-time tracking of salt has helped us use up to 30 per cent less salt.”
Jordan, who is also chair of the snow and ice committee management sector for the horticultural trade association, Landscape Ontario, says he quickly jumped on board with Omer’s research and would like to see Smart Scale change the way salt is applied across Ontario.