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    Date submitted
  • 19-Sep-2017



PolarPanel is a solar energy startup focused on bringing clean, reliable, and low-maintenance refrigeration technology to the commercial cold chain. We are specifically targeting the rail industry by retrofitting refrigerated railcars with NASA-developed solar refrigeration technology, that is both battery and generator-free. Our solution promotes efficiency and slashes maintenance in an industry where profitability is determined by operating efficiently and controlling maintenance expenses. Winner of NASA’s Commercial Invention of the Year for 2011, this patented solar-refrigeration technology used in PolarPanel systems has previously met requirements for use in U.S. Military applications, as well as satisfied standards set by the World Health Organization.


Original YouTube URL: Open

Introduction Video

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Railroads, independent railcar owners, and railcar repair shops seeking certification in maintenance and installation of new technologies

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

Because there is no power source running throughout a train, typical refrigerated railcars come saddled with their own diesel generators to maintain temperature. These generators require expensive fuel and frequent maintenance; directly opposing the competitive advantages of rail.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

PolarPanel resolves this problem by connecting a solar panel directly to the compressor of a refrigerated railcar without need for battery or generator, and stores excess energy in the form of ice can ensure steady temperatures even without sunlight. Winner of NASA’s Commercial Invention of the Year (2011), the patented solar-refrigeration technology used in PolarPanel systems has met reliability standards set by the World Health Organization, passed stress testing for the U.S. Military, and is now ready to change the way refrigerated commodities are shipped across the world.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

PolarPanel represents a team built from program students of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston, and combines patented technology, mentorships from NASA inventors, and personal connections to the rail industry to create a realistic solution that enhances the underlying positioning of the industry it targets. In other words, it provides the industry with tangible benefits, real potential for investment, and an opportunity for long-term success.