Airloom Energy – an energy company revolutionizing utility-scale wind energy generation – recently announced the appointment of Neal Rickner as Chief Executive Officer. Rickner succeeds founder Robert Lumley, who will remain with Airloom. Rickner’s appointment also comes on the heels of Airloom Energy’s raise of $4 million in seed funding led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and supported by investors including Lowercarbon Capital and MCJ Collective.
This financing is fueling research and development of the Airloom wind energy test device – designed to produce 50 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. And future systems are expected to be megawatt-scale and deployed hundreds of megawatts at a time in utility-scale wind farms.
Rickner brings over 25 years of operational and investing experience in the energy, defense, and industrial sectors. Before becoming CEO of BridgeTek Energy, a global battery integration services and software technology provider, Rickner served as the Managing Partner of Elevation Ventures, where he led investments in early-stage energy and mobility companies. And he spent nearly a decade at Google and Google[x] leading teams, most notably serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Makani, a next-generation wind-turbine company owned by Alphabet and Shell. Rickner is also a decorated veteran of the U.S. Marines, serving as an F-18 pilot and Forward Air Controller for over 12 years.
Airloom taps into the same physics as a conventional horizontal-axis wind turbine (HAWT), but with a very different layout. And this novel approach results in a unique utility-scale wind power device that produces the same amount of power as a HAWT at a small fraction of the mass and cost. Conventional wind turbines can approach a height of 500 feet, with 180-foot blades rotating on a 300-foot tower. In contrast, the typical Airloom runs 30-foot blades along a lightweight track with a total height of 80 feet.
The cost and environmental advantages extend over the Airloom’s entire lifecycle. And it uses readily sourced materials to ensure rapid manufacturing, and an entire 2.5 MW Airloom could be transported in one standard tractor trailer. Plus, it can be configured high or low, short or long, to optimize siting, viewplane and usage, and does not require large concrete foundations in commissioning. The decrease in overall weight and materials also means greatly reduced landfill impacts at the end of its use.
“I am truly honored to join this remarkable team on a journey that promises not only to revolutionize the energy landscape, but also to leave a lasting positive impact on our environment and energy security. I want to express my gratitude for the incredible work done thus far, and an unwavering commitment to a sustainable future.”
— Neal Rickner
“For decades, the wind industry has lowered the cost of energy production by scaling ever larger turbines. Although this has been extremely successful in driving down overall costs, the approach now faces challenges in terms of both siting and cost of materials. Airloom’s unique approach can solve both these problems, opening new market opportunities for wind energy that will further drive down costs. We look forward to Neal’s leadership in bringing this revolutionary technology into the market.”
— Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures