Ryan Franks, MBA ’20, Business Manager with Energy Storage Response Group
- Where do you see the biggest opportunity for advance in the area of “smart” energy?
Most consumers have little to no economic incentive to alter their electricity usage patterns without pricing signals. Time-of-use rate plans provide those price signals by linking electricity price to the overall grid capacity based on time of day and time of year. A smart appliance (e.g. smart dryer or EV charger) can then be programmed to operate, for example, overnight or when electricity is below $0.XX per kilowatt hour.
- How can you help a consumer audience understand the technology gap that currently exists between energy capture/generation and energy storage?
Electricity is one of the only things that has historically been consumed immediately after has been produced. When you order a baseball bat, the factory does not just spin up and shave down a piece of wood into a Louisville Slugger, but rather there is some warehouse in that supply chain. Energy storage is the warehouse for electricity and the entire electric power system regulatory and technical apparatus is still adjusting to how to build, price and deploy that capacity.
- What drew you to this corner of engineering/electrical engineering?
I started reading a publication by a technologist and futurist that is now defunct, GigaOM by Om Malik, that really educated me on the technology and impacts of batteries and I knew that I wanted to explore it further. The MIT Technology Review has similar content today and is something I still read each morning.
- What can you tell us about your patents?
My patents have nothing to do with my current job or industry. I have some patents with a team I worked with at a government lab that are for a device that allows you to observe liquid samples in an electron microscope. We were working on heat transfer fluids using nanotechnologies and needed to view nanoparticles in suspension. Electron microscopes, without this device, allow the liquid to immediately evaporate due to vacuum and heat. A company still licenses the patents and has incorporated the intellectual property into their offerings.
- What would it take for Cleveland to grow/attract a critical mass of green energy expertise, capital, companies?
Cleveland is really good at making things. The people, the infrastructure, and the mindset are geared towards physical engineering and manufacturing. Cleveland could stake its claim in green energy by being the place where the components for the new energy economy are made and the sum of all those marginal advances results in greater regional prosperity.
Learn More: Energy Storage Response Group