Abhishek Sastry ’20 He built a business in cooling technology for high-performance computers. Now the UCF mechanical engineering graduate plans to take the business a step further by developing cooling technology for data centers around the world.
The refrigerator is unlike anything else ever invented on Earth. It is created by microgravity, and has already been recognized from a celestial source.
Sastry’s company Flux won the Innovation Award at the Reef Startup Innovation Challenge. The challenge is sponsored by Reef Stater, the Orbital Reef Innovation Engine, a Blue Origin-backed space station that will be built in low-Earth orbit and eventually serve as a business park.
Out of hundreds of applicants, Flux was one of 20 startups selected for the final round and one of four to win the top prize. As an awardee, Sastri received $25,000 and a customized workshop with industry experts.
Sastri has had the opportunity to meet many distinguished colleagues.
“Winning this challenge helped us connect with Blue Origin, our startup partner; Sera Space, our implementation partner for the microgravity experiments; and AWS, the largest potential data center customer on Earth, where microgravity-engineered coolants could be deployed,” Sastri says. They’re helping us build a strategy to drive space and implement our solutions into existing data centers.”
Sastri said his focus has shifted to data centers because of the energy they use. According to the US Department of Energy, data centers can consume 10 to 50 times the amount of energy on the ground floor of a commercial office building. In general, they account for 2% of the total energy use in the United States.
The secret to cooling these power eaters is in space. The harsh, non-gravity environment makes it easier for colds to ferment on Earth. In turn, the coolant system can rely on fewer moving parts and reduce energy consumption.
This novel idea not only attracted Blue Origin’s backing, but also caught the attention of venture capitalists at the TechCrunch session: Spacepoint Competition. Flux competed against two other startups and Sastri’s pitch for microgravity refrigeration won. As a result, he will have the opportunity to dive in again, but as a member of the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield 200, a group of top startup companies that will be presented at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 conference this October.
But this is not just a lucky ride for Sastri and company. Flux was selected for the 2020 Blackstone LaunchPad Summer Startup Fellowship, which prompted participation in the 2022 TechStars Industries of the Future accelerator. Sastry also won first place at the 2021 UCF Technology Venture Symposium, which includes a $10,000 cash prize.
Sastri said the next steps for his energy-efficient idea are to find investors, grow his sales and engineering teams, and conduct data center trials.
“This will give us the energy and financial support to launch our experiments into space,” says Sastri. “With connections through the Blue Origin Reef Launch Challenge, we now have a streamlined and accelerated way to test and bring new innovations and secrets.”