Grid Fruit is developing and evaluating a novel technology and operating framework for monitoring and control of commercial refrigeration systems installed at food retailers.

Grid Fruit uses artificial intelligence (AI) and data to keep food fresh while reducing the energy needed for commercial refrigeration. The technology simultaneously procures savings for food retailers and provides grid services for electrical utilities.

Grid Fruit evaluates and then improves the performance of refrigeration systems in terms of energy and food quality. They plan to leverage this information for intelligent asset management including fault detection and predictive maintenance.

Grid Fruit will also improve performance of refrigeration systems by providing custom operational recommendations. Finally, with better monitoring and control the technology will be able to leverage thermal storage capacity of retailer refrigeration systems as energy storage (thermal batteries) for the grid.

Grid Fruit is enrolled in ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads program. TAEBC and Launch Tennessee provide non-exclusive business mentoring services to the Innovation Crossroads Innovators.

Starting new clean-tech hardware-based companies can be challenging, and that’s one reason the number of energy startups has declined significantly over the past decade. Innovation Crossroads is a program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Manufacturing Office, Building Technologies Office, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that leverages Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL’s) unique scientific resources and capabilities and connects the nation’s top innovators with experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take world-changing ideas from research and development (R&D) to the marketplace.

Innovation Crossroads is a two-year program for fellows focusing on energy and advanced manufacturing technologies. Through an annual national call and competitive stage-gate process, top entrepreneurial-minded fellows are selected to join the program. Selected innovators receive a fellowship that includes a personal living stipend, along with health insurance and travel allowance, a substantial grant to use on collaborative R&D at ORNL, and comprehensive mentoring assistance to build a sustainable business model.

By embedding the next generation of top technical talent within ORNL, Innovation Crossroads positions entrepreneurial researcher fellows to address fundamental energy and manufacturing challenges identified by industry.