Israel’s Leviathan takes on clean tech
Posted By Karin Kloosterman On May 27, 2008 @ 9:22 am In | No Comments
Dr. Daniel Farb (right) meets San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom in Israel recently.
In Hebrew the word leviathan roughly translates to a “whale” – and describes the great sea creature that carried the prophet Jonas in its gut for three days before coughing him up on dry land near Nineveh. In English, a leviathan means a great force.
A religious man who studies the Torah, Dr. Daniel Farb the CEO and founder of Israel’s newest cleantech startup Leviathan Energy, combined the meanings from both languages: “We chose this name as a reminder of the enormous energy present in nature,” he said.
God appears to be on his side. Farb, the multitalented inventor of the entire portfolio of Leviathan’s technologies, is attempting to harness clean energy through a variety of technologies suited to collecting hydroelectric energy, wind energy (big and small), and ocean energy.
He recently signed a letter of intent worth about $50 million to help generate wind and wave power in India. And is about to sign a deal with a small US-based cleantech company to install Leviathan turbines inside pipes to help generate hydroelectric power.
The interest in his company makes it almost impossible for Farb to keep up with the volume of daily inquiries – proving that the world is ready to take alternative and renewable forms of energy very seriously. With rising oil costs and the threat of Peak Oil, not to mention global warming, Leviathan’s ideas are warmly welcomed in the clean technology business.
A practicing ophthalmologist before moving to Israel from LA three years ago, Farb has a number of awe-inspiring clean tech inventions up his sleeve, some with names, some still without. While it would make sense that each invention be based on a similar core technology, with Farb’s logic, this is not the case.
The training he had in ophthalmology gave him the adequate background in physics, and a special mind lets him see things differently. Looking into the possibilities of renewable energy, “I am taking a fresh look at the physics for different energy sources and finding ways I could make a change in cost-effectiveness,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
In tidal energy for example, most of the devices that collect energy work as buoys, collecting energy as they bounce up and down. “I thought through better the physics,” he says, “and how you get energy out of the facts of how waves work and the formulas that apply to them.”
His new wave device, nameless up to now, captures energy from both the vertical and rotational dimension of a wave at the same time. Rotational energy capture is the trick.
The team of about 10 people in his company, plus subcontractors, is obviously kept busy. They have built a pilot plant in Israel at the Rotem Industrial Park in Dimona, where they are demonstrating the fluid dynamics of wind farms.
One product — the low-cost Benkatina Turbine, a hydroelectric turbine — is about to go commercial any month now in the northeast United States. “We are the first in-pipe turbine,” he says. “We are currently working on contracts for use in fresh and dirty water systems.”
Farb is hoping to generate interest in his wave turbines, which are about to be tested at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology; while the physics of fluid dynamics is being developed with the help of Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Moshe Rosenfeld. The rest of the research expertise has come from Farb, who has funded the company until now with personal finances and the help of grants.
Soon Farb will be looking for outside funding. But that just seems like a matter of course. Farb, the CEO of an e-learning company who has a degree from UCLA in executive management, has all the confidence in the world that Leviathan will succeed.
“I see it as the General Electric of renewable energy companies,” he says of his company: “I want a number of divisions where we are number one. These are market-changing inventions – more cost-effective and accessible than ever before.”
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