Entropy President Eric Lindquist, left, Steve Skallerud, vice president of sales and marketing, center, and Chris Servais, vice president of operations, with some of the company’s container products. Entropy’s temperature-control solution is being adapted to heat and cool buildings.
Feed Loader, Entropy Systems
Growth built on vegetables
- Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY
- Star Tribune
- October 30, 2009 - 9:51 PM
Entropy Solutions, which makes high-tech shipping containers with its "GreenBox," recyclable, thermal-management system, is expanding from boxes to buildings.
The Eden Prairie company, which expects to achieve profitability this year on revenue of $10 million after only two years of sales, uses plant oil formulations to manufacture containers that can keep temperature-sensitive cargo such as human organs and pharmaceuticals safe in transit for as long as 120 hours. Now the technology is being scaled up, proving that its plant-oil formulations also underscore what mom always knew: "Those vegetables are good for you."
"She just didn't know that vegetable byproducts can reduce residential and commercial energy usage by 30 percent," said Entropy President Eric Lindquist. "They are now being used in products that keep baby's car seat from scalding in the summer sun, protect and cool police and military officers and their dogs working in extreme heat, and keep pharmaceuticals at a consistent temperature during shipment."
In an interview this week, Lindquist projected an increase in revenue to $100 million in 2011, as Entropy's patented, "PureTemp" solution is adapted to retrofit restaurants, weatherize old buildings or new houses through its recently commercialized "BioPCM" materials. That stands for "phase-change materials'' -- an active-ingredient, polyfilm-encased insulation produced at the Phase Change Energy Solutions plant in Ashboro, N.C., minority-owned by Entropy.
"We're replacing mechanical solutions with passive solutions," Lindquist said, adding that independent tests indicate the material works for 50-plus years. "The mechanical heating and cooling systems essentially become the backup. BioPCM reduces indoor temperature fluctuations, greenhouse gas emissions and overall energy use by up to 30 percent."
GreenBox was launched in late 2007 and incorporates a reusable, high-density polyethylene container that resists heat transfer, water and crushing. The liquid solution is contained in plastic-molded containers, sized for boxes that can carry a few pounds of biological supplies or hundreds of pounds of blood. The containers can be reused as many as 100 times, cutting distribution costs by as much as 65 percent over time, Entropy says.
"We chose temperature-sensitive packaging because it was our core, and we knew that we could have a big impact in a short period of time," Lindquist said. "We have the ability to do different temperature options, and you only have to do it once. Our patented process allows us to dial in the phase-change point by slightly altering the manufacturing process to lock in any temperature between minus-40 Fahrenheit and 300 Fahrenheit."
Entropy said it has pilot projects underway with three major fast-food chains, although the company declined to identify the customers. The restaurant industry is a prime target because of heavy energy costs, particularly in the kitchen areas that must be heated and cooled.
Lindquist and two other Entropy executives also displayed products developed with name-band manufacturers that make temperature-controlled car seats, clothing, blankets and vests for radiation-treatment patients. Army search dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan are wearing "Coolvests" (Coolvest.com) that keep them from overheating, which impedes their sense of smell.
Entropy, in short, looks to become one of Minnesota's fastest-growing companies with an energy and carbon-cutting technology at the confluence of innovation and environmentalism. And the products are said to pay off in as little as two years through energy and waste reduction.
Entropy, incorporated in 2003 by the late Mark Wallace, is based on "green chemistry" developed by its chief scientist, William (Rusty) Sutterlin, a Ph.D. in chemistry who also has won a U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Award for his work over the last 15 years with renewable animal fats and vegetable oils.
The company is majority-owned by founding shareholder Henry Cousineau, a Minnesota businessman, other local investors and employees.
Components made locally
Lindquist, a former sales and marketing executive with Polaris and Nike, said Entropy generates cash and does not need to raise additional capital, partly because it relies on contract manufacturers and product makers that incorporate PureTemp into their products.
The GreenBox components are manufactured locally by Liberty Carton and Metro Mold and have received industry and environmental awards.
Lindquist expects Entropy's corporate staff to grow from 15 to 25 over the next two years.
The name "Entropy" is rooted in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which pertains to energy flows and equilibrium: "It's the state of constant chaos," said Lindquist, who operates from a nondescript office-warehouse complex. "And that's sometimes fitting for our company."
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144 • email@example.com
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