$1 mil grant helps entrepreneur in quest to solve energy challenges


Ever felt that you’re the consummate queen of multi-tasking? Follow Kelly Herbst around for a couple of days.

As president and founder of NAVITASMAX, a renewable energy storage company at Innovations Incubator in westChandler, Herbst spends her days learning all she can about sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to provide energy for the Earth.

As Mom to four curious children, Herbst spends her evenings striving to answer thought-provoking questions like, “Why can’t we use the sun and wind to power the world all the time?”

It is questions like these, Herbst says, that inspire her to work even harder to find an answer to energy needs around the country and eventually around the globe.

“In response, I combined my observations in art, nature and science to envision a novel solution that will enable widespread deployment of renewable energy by providing a system that is efficient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly,” she said.

Thanks to a $1 million grant recently awarded to NAVITASMAX, Herbst’s company may soon be one step closer to bringing real answers to her children’s questions by solving some of our country’s most challenging energy storage issues.

The grant was awarded from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for its groundbreaking energy research for energy storage.

Herbst said that ARPA-E’s mission is to fund projects that will develop technologies designed to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy imports, minimize energy-related emissions and improve energy efficiency across the country.

“NAVITASMAX will develop a novel heat storage method for concentrating solar applications that will improve thermal energy density, or amount of heat storage, over existing systems by a factor of 10,” Herbst said, adding that her company assembled a team of leading scientists, engineers, and manufacturers to help solve some of the most challenging energy storage issues.

“The project team includes Harvard University, Cornell University, Nano Terra and Barber-Nichols, and it will conduct a one-year ‘proof-of-concept seedling’ program that will enable low-cost efficient thermal energy storage.”

Herbst said she has been fascinated for some time by the interconnectedness of science, art and nature. Upon completion of her studies toward an MBA, she went to work for a start-up company in the environmental industry.

“After having four children I became even more interested in environmental issues. I am a dreamer, an innovator,” she said, adding that she and everyone at NAVITASMAX is honored to have been chosen for such a prestigious award.

“This has truly been a labor of love by everyone involved,” she said.

“ARPA-E is one of the highest profile Department of Energy programs in our country,” Herbst said.  “Their focus is to fund highly innovative and transformational energy related technologies.

“As John F. Kennedy said, ‘We need men—and women—who can dream of things that never were.’  We need entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and engineers to transform their dreams into reality.”



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