(Photo courtesy LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy)
Behind the invention: LSU physics professor Shane Stadler; entrepreneur Herbert Presley
Number of patents: Multiple applications pending
The patent bill to date: Would not disclose
After analyzing 585 patents held by LSU over the past two years in search of business opportunities, serial entrepreneur Herbert Presley identified several different commercial opportunities.
One technology in particular stood out.
The potential for the patent to revolutionize the heating and cooling industry was so apparent when he came across it, Presley says, that he immediately began negotiations with LSU to help the inventor, LSU Physics Professor Shane Stadler, patent and commercialize his discovery.
“We really liked what he was working on, and we could tell by the excitement level that the professor was really onto something,” Presley says.
The entrepreneur created Magnetic Cool LLC strictly for the purpose of licensing and commercializing Stadler’s invention, which eliminates the use of harmful fluorocarbons and reduces energy usage by 20% to 50% in both residential and commercial heating and cooling systems. The magnetocaloric material uses a magnetic field to heat itself and removes the magnetic field to cool the material below its ambient temperature. Throughout the entire process, the material stays in a solid state, which makes it more energy efficient than the compressed gas systems on the market today.
Stadler’s research, in collaboration with Professor Naushad Ali at Southern Illinois University, was initially funded through grants from the Department of Energy. It later received crucial support through the LSU Leverage Innovation for Technology Transfer, or LIFT2, grant developed by the LSU Board of Supervisors to help faculty commercialize their research.
“LSU, in my research, there are a number of really good technologies there,” Presley says. “Most of these technologies are in the very early stages. … They need people who have commercialized things before and have a track record to come in and get in early and help them bring this to market.”
Presley’s in-house Intellectual Property team began the patent process at the end of 2015, filing for numerous international patents because of the technology’s global potential.
“This is an international project,” he says, adding that it’s also “a rather big one.”
As the managing partner of Magnetic Cool, Presley has an aggressive business plan and says the technology is on the path to commercialization. Now he’s looking for capital. He plans to have the details of the technology published in a trade magazine to expose the science to the potential investors around the world and attract industry partners.
Under the licensing agreement with LSU, Magnetic Cool will pay the university a royalty for any commercialization of the technology, with 40% of that royalty going to Stadler. And Presley sees potential at LSU beyond Stadler’s technology.
“We data-mined their patents, and we believe there is a lot more out there,” Presley says, explaining that a very small percentage of the work at LSU is being commercialized because much of it is purely academic.
But he has noticed a significant shift recently.
“I’ve been working with them for a little over two years, and over the past year we’ve seen a lot of improvement—a lot of effort put behind working with companies like mine and people like me,” he says.