PGW’s Energy Innovation Lab Fueling a Sustainable Future

By Frank Canavan, Senior Manager, State Affairs, American Gas Association 

As the largest municipally owned natural gas utility in the country, Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) knows a thing or two about serving the community. PGW’s latest venture, The Energy Innovation Lab, is the next step in its mission to promote sustainability and innovation.  

The Energy Innovation Lab, established in 2021, serves as a two-year incubator program with a mission to help support young businesses that have the potential to bring innovation to the energy industry and increase energy efficiency and affordability. In conjunction with Temple University’s Small Business Development Center (TU SBDC), the program provides small businesses with the necessary services and financial and technical support to initiate change. The goal is to help identify and develop business ideas for new energy-related technologies, applications, and business models to reduce emissions and increase energy access for low-income and other vulnerable populations. 

The lab provides entrepreneurs with comprehensive TU SBDC entrepreneurship support and PGW mentors to advance their clean energy concepts that can help meet Philadelphia’s growing energy needs, promote energy efficiency and affordability, as well as help the City meet its 2050 goal of carbon neutrality. The chosen entrepreneur(s) receive hands-on training, mentoring, and real-time feedback from PGW energy industry experts and TU SBDC business development consultants. 

The first cohort of entrepreneurs resulted in the lab supporting two local companies. ATP-PA’s winning entry was its founder’s patented Combined Remediation Biomass and Bio-Product Production Process, an economical method of capturing carbon dioxide and then converting the harvested material into bio-products for use in the circular economy.

Metal Light’s winning concept seeks to develop the first portable power generator fueled solely by metal and air as a backup power source for urban households. The generator is intended to operate safely and silently indoors and is emissions-free.  

Source: Metal Light

The second cohort was announced in 2023 with Hydropore selected as the winning concept. Hydropore’s clean hydrogen production system is designed to “drop in” to any customer site to provide a reliable fuel supply for the next generation of trucks, buses, planes, trains, and ships. Hydropore’s hydrogen-producing battery is unique in that it has a small footprint, runs on any type of water, and only consumes electricity when it is clean and most economical. 

The Energy Innovation Lab is an extension of PGW’s long-standing, proactive commitment to expand energy access and affordability, develop new business opportunities in Philadelphia, and lead the drive toward a clean energy future for the City.  

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