Sen. Michael Bennet Visits Loveland Auto-tech Company VanDyne SuperTurbo™
April 14, 2014 – From Loveland Reporter-Herald
By Craig Young, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
LOVELAND — U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s tour of innovative Colorado companies stopped first in Loveland on Monday morning.
The senator spent about 25 minutes at VanDyne SuperTurbo, an automotive engine technology company that moved its main facility from Fort Collins to Loveland last year.
Company founder Ed VanDyne took Bennet on a tour of the research facility at 3755 Precision Drive in northeast Loveland, explaining the concept of his SuperTurbo invention and showing a prototype attached to a Cummins ISX diesel engine — commonly used in semis.
“Cummins is very, very interested in taking the next step with their SuperTruck program,” VanDyne told the senator, referring to a 4-year-old project funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy to create a big rig that is 50 percent more efficient than the semis on the road now.
VanDyne SuperTurbo spun off from Fort Collins-based Woodward Inc. in 2008. The company is developing a turbo-supercharger that uses an engine’s waste heat and drive-train torque to pump more oxygen into the cylinders, increasing power and fuel efficiency.
“Thirty percent of your fuel energy is going to the back wheels,” VanDyne told Bennet, “and 28 to 30 percent is being dumped out the tailpipe. We feed that energy back down to the engine.”
Bennet asked questions about VanDyne’s invention — how the device boosts the efficiency of an engine, whether similar technology is in use by other companies and whether VanDyne has patents.
VanDyne said nothing just like his invention exists and that he has received three patents in the past few months.
“This is the secret sauce,” VanDyne told Bennet as he displayed the 100,000-rpm turbine in the inner workings of the SuperTurbo. “This is what grabs hold of the air and pushes it into the engine.”
The senator chatted with some of VanDyne’s 18 employees and told the gathering that he recently became chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure — an appointment that is driving his information-gathering tour.
“My sense is that we’re not supporting innovation the way we need to be,” he said.
After his tour of VanDyne, Bennet said in an interview that he’s taking advantage of a Senate recess to “see early-stage companies across Colorado that are innovating the future.”
He said even though the U.S. has experienced economic growth after the recession, “we don’t see job growth and wage growth.”
Bennet said he believes that innovation is the answer, and he hopes to use his position to make sure America is educating students for 21st-century jobs and that the regulatory climate is conducive to innovation.
Tom Dean, a professor of entrepreneurship and sustainable enterprise at Colorado State University and a board member for VanDyne SuperTurbo Inc., said he was happy to show the senator an example of American ingenuity.
“To see him engaged is a wonderful thing, and to see the federal government focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship,” Dean said.