Google-backed startup zaps electricity waste

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The Independent Online

A Google-backed startup on Wednesday came out of "stealth mode" with a way to dramatically cut the amount of electricity wasted by data centers, solar panels, hybrid cars and more.

Transphorm has made a module that can cut by as much as 90 percent the amount of electricity lost while converting currents in anything from laptops to elevator motors and massive computer server farms.

Figures cited by the startup indicated that inefficient electric power conversion in the US power grid wastes the equivalent of the output of 318 coal-fired power plants and costs the nation's economy $40 billion a year.

"What everyone is doing is paying a hidden tax because of the inefficiency of power conversions," Transphorm chief executive Umesh Mishrasaid said during a presentation with Google Ventures executives at the Internet firm's campus in the California city of Mountain View.

"Why put up with needless energy waste in every electrical system and device, when we can quickly and cost-effectively design products that are inherently energy efficient?" he asked rhetorically.

Google Ventures led a recently completed round of funding that raised $20 million for Transphorm, which brings to $38 million the total amount investors have pumped into the California-based startup since it launched four years ago.

Transphorm specializes in custom-designed power modules to be built into "virtually any electrical system" from consumer gadgets to industrial motors to electric cars or solar panels.

The company will unveil its first product at a conference taking place in Texas next month.