Heat X's tank water heater.

Michigan startup’s magnetic tech aims to transform efficient heating, cooking, and more

Michigan startup Heat X, which creates more energy-efficient heating technologies, is getting traction with its four proof-of-concept prototypes: two for air heaters and one each for a tank water heater and surface cooktop. 

It recently completed a successful Underwriters Laboratories field evaluation for its tank water heater assembly that uses magnetocaloric and magnetic induction technologies. The Illinois certification company’s evaluation demonstrates the Heat X product’s safety and manufacturability.

Heat X is a pre-revenue startup founded in 2018 to create heating technologies from cost-effective, non-toxic materials. The technology relies on magnetics and uses far less energy than currently available resistive and conductive technologies, said co-founder Matthew Gurwin.

“We figured out a way to produce the heat in a way that’s truly efficient using very low-cost materials,” Gurwin said. “We now have a technology that is ready to commercialize and put out into the world to try to reduce our carbon footprint.”

The base technology has a broad range of applications for different fields, including in cooking appliances, building heating systems, and electric vehicles. 

“Our technology is transformational,” Gurwin said. 

The innovation

The system applies a magnetic field to a magnetocaloric material. The material’s temperature increases when exposed to the magnetic field, and it decreases when the field is removed.

This type of heat transfer technology has been around for decades, but barriers prevented it from advancing and achieving widespread acceptance. For instance, the metals generally used to create the magnetics are rare and expensive, and they are toxic in their raw forms. Heat X creates its technologies from abundant, non-toxic, and affordable materials.

The innovation essentially is a magnetocaloric heat pump. It overcomes some problems with other heat pump technologies, such as struggling with output in cold climates.

“An interesting aspect of our technology is the colder the ambient temperature surrounding it, the more efficient it becomes,” Gurwin said. “It is about 250% more efficient than current resistive technologies, and it’s close to 300% more efficient when you get down below freezing.”

What’s next

Gurwin anticipates significant growth for Heat X over the next few years. The goal is to scale the company and partner with larger companies. Heat X has 13 patents for its technology that it is looking to license to partner companies. 

“It’s going to be a two-pronged strategy where we’re going after smaller, niche markets on our own but partnering with large companies through licensing for large industrial and residential markets,” Gurwin said. “We’re going to collaborate with some of the top companies in the world to commercialize this because they already have the infrastructure and resources in place.” 

But getting large companies to take notice and take a chance on this instead of sticking with what they know is a challenge. 

“I call it technical disbelief,” Gurwin said. “It’s very hard for a small company to get noticed.”

Being based in the Detroit area could help expose the innovation to auto manufacturers for use in their EVs.

Heat X currently is in discussions with three companies for possible technical collaborations. They plan to further develop the technology this year and commercialize it as soon as possible.