Whitehorse Daily Star

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LUCKY DUO – Entrepreneurs Thomas Jaquin (left) and Cody Reaume of Phylo Technologies celebrate their winning of the 2019 Innovation Prize, worth $60,000, on Monday in Whitehorse.

Innovators celebrate $60,000 prize

Two Whitehorse entrepreneurs are the winners of the 2019 Innovation Prize, worth $60,000.

By Whitehorse Star on June 25, 2019

Two Whitehorse entrepreneurs are the winners of the 2019 Innovation Prize, worth $60,000.

Cody Reaume and Thomas Jaquin of Phylo Technologies are the recipients. Reaume is the co-founder of Phylo, while Jaquin is a software developer.

They were presented with the award and a cheque Monday by Ranj Pillai, the minister of Economic Development, at NorthLight Innovation (the former Food Fair/Super Valu building).

The Yukon Innovation Prize is an annual award handed out by the territorial government and Cold Climate Innovation at Yukon College.

Reaume said he was excited to have won the award. It was a long road for the duo in developing their project, and he is happy it’s paying off.

Their project is the development of an intelligent ventilation control system. If successful, it would replace the standard equipment found in homes.

It uses air quality measurements to control ventilation, minimizing energy consumption and ensuring good air quality.

Reaume hopes to have the product finished and ready for sale by the summer of 2020. He is unsure how much it will cost in the end.

He came up with the ventilation control idea when he moved back to Yukon recently, having lived here previously.

Over the last year, Reaume grew frustrated with the lack of control and understanding about the air quality in his own home. He thought there was a better way to deal with this problem.

He began developing his idea, but quickly realized he did not have the right skill set to implement it.

He decided to partner with Jaquin, as the latter is an established maker and software developer.

“We started chatting about the idea and he was interested in coming on board,” Reaume said. “We were able to make it happen together.”

Jaquin is glad that this product will bring an understanding of air quality in homes as well as reduce energy consumption.

He explained that with current ventilation systems, fresh air is being brought into homes – which may be unnecessary.

“It’s really important to know whether you need to ventilate your house or not,” Jaquin said.

This can be further compounded when considering the speed of the ventilating fans, he added.

The $60,000 will help build their next prototype. New and better components will be used, which should make several improvements. These include more sensitive sensors and making the system more reliable over all.

Jaquin added they will distribute the system into the homes of people interested in the product.

They want feedback from these parties. New features could be integrated based on what they hear.

He said people have asked if this system will detect radon. He said it is better to not have the radon detector integrated into the prototype.

That said, he explained that a radon detector could connect with his product through Wi-Fi.

“Based on the level of radon, we could trigger the HRV (heat recovery ventilator) or not,” Jaquin said.

As for distribution, Reaume said they plan on both selling the system themselves while getting it on the shelves of distributors. There will be online sales as well.

Phylo’s project was one of 30 initial submissions. That was narrowed down to four projects, with each getting $10,000 for further development.

Sabrina Clarke’s Yukon Wigglers project, Shane Wolffe’s solar air heating project and Michael Gerasimoff’s idea to use static cling to remove bad particles from wood- burning appliances were the runners-up for the prize.

Comments (10)

Up 2 Down 1

HRVAC on Jun 27, 2019 at 7:55 pm

@Angela, the Whitehorse and Yukon building codes have required HRVs in all new residential buildings for a few years now. That code also requires that the HRV be balanced by a qualified technician and a HRV report provided to permit building occupancy. New houses are also tested for excess air leakage as part of the new CoW & YTG building codes.

Up 4 Down 1

HRVAC on Jun 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

@Jackson, for a few years Venmar had a more sophisticated HRV control available that sensed CO2 and VOCs, but there was no market for it, and it was discontinued. I suspect these lads will discover the same reality.

Relatively inexpensive CO2 and VOC meters are available from amazon.ca and can be easily used in conjunction with your existing HRV controls. No need to wait for the prize winners to maybe develop something useful and affordable someday.

Up 7 Down 1

Angela on Jun 27, 2019 at 3:49 pm

It only took 25 years for HRVs to be manadated in Ontario Building Code homes and National code not even there yet.
Not to mention ERVs which control moisture. Wouldn't you want fresh air all the time?
I'm just glad they knew what an HRV was and it needs improvements. Maybe they can take the $60,000 and work with a 30 year old ventilation manufacturer to help improve their sensors/controllers that are already in the works.
For heaven sakes teach contractors about BALANCING the HRV balancing the way!

Sideote: Ironically wasn't the first Asthma study done in relation to HRVs and fresh air done in the Yukon by Venmar and CMHC?

Up 4 Down 3

Jackson on Jun 27, 2019 at 2:05 pm

You’re missing my point. I know how to operate my HRV, run my high-speed modes in bathroom and kitchen and I know how to do my regular maintenance on the unit. The control system has NO intelligence and simply runs low or high and then intermittently in normal operation for freeze / thaw cycle. The low speed is fixed on the unit (can be changed manually at the unit if you know what you’re doing). I also know how much humidity I have at any point in time though the system doesn’t allow me to change anything at the controls. I can shut it off completely, which I often do, when it has rendered my humidity crazy low. In this environment, the set it and forget it approach isn’t working and my home is often either too humid or not humid enough. The mechanical system that is supposed to make my home more comfortable is failing me and not because the system isn’t doing its job, it is.

The other aspect of the proposed product that I like is information. I would love to know CO2, VOC and Humidity details throughout the year and better understand how my home operates. My current system tells me nothing. There’s definitely some opportunity for better controls, data collection, reporting and maybe even cost savings, though that would be secondary to my motivations.

If someone can provide an HRV product that can help address the variable needs of my home more effectively they can have my cash money in exchange for that device. I am sure I’m not alone and that defines a market - I don't know how big the market is.

Up 10 Down 7

My opinion on Jun 26, 2019 at 8:49 pm

This is so far from rocket science. I have been doing this for thirty years. Mine was installed in 88.
The original HRV’s had a veritable speed fan set manually. This wasn’t the greatest as it would run all day and night. So I plugged it into a simple timer. It comes on when I want and is off when I don’t. I have it go for an hour at meal and bath times and in between 15 minutes per hour.
Cut power consumption by 70%

Total investment $4.95 in 1988 dollars and still using same timer.
Can I get $60,000.00? Probably is nowadays everyone has a degree and can’t fix nor understand anything.
Lord help us.

Up 6 Down 2

HRVAC on Jun 26, 2019 at 8:15 pm

@Jackson. Your Venmar HRV control should have an intermittent mode to solve your perceived 'overventilation' problem, and there should be a timer control in the kitchen to run it on high speed while cooking. Go to the Venmar.ca website and download the user manual for your HRV to find out how to operate it correctly.

Up 7 Down 4

Jackson on Jun 26, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Brilliant! Hope you're team is up to the task and can solve my HRV frustrations.
Am I over-ventilated / under-ventilated? How much does this vary with time of day, occupancy, seasonality, etc? Frankly, I have no clue.

All the professionals can tell me is whether my HRV is balanced and operating and that I need to maintain the filter once per year. Venmar produces a "smart" controller but it only considers humidity which, while important, isn't my only concern regarding air quality / ventilation. In the real world homes are variably occupied and to different levels and different times, with disparate cooking, showering and occupant habits. Recommendations for HRV sizing and operation are very basic guidelines, at best, that use details like number of occupants and square feet to be ventilated. Generally I believe my home is over-ventilated about 60% of the time and under-ventilated 5-10% of the time. I would love a solution that would intelligently adapt to my home's needs to both make it more comfortable to live in as well as potentially save some gosh darn fuel.

When it's ready I hope I can get in on the early beta-tester group to provide feedback on features that I'd like to see in a commercial product. The faster I can dump my current HRV controls the better... they are pointless and tell me nothing except the mysterious 'M' showing up when apparent maintenance is required.

Congratulations on your win and wish you all the best in your pursuit of a solution to a real problem.

Up 7 Down 7

Hoby Irwin on Jun 25, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Well done Cody

Up 15 Down 9

Barnum was Right on Jun 25, 2019 at 4:48 pm

Sixty grand of our tax dollars awarded to solve a 'problem' that happens when people don't read the user's manual for their HRV to understand how to use the controls properly, or the HRV isn't working correctly and needs servicing.
It appears that the people involved with the prize never spoke with anyone who installs and services residential HRV systems.

Up 14 Down 0

HVAC on Jun 25, 2019 at 4:40 pm

This sort of system has always been available with DDC type control systems, it’s just that for residential use, it always been cost prohibitive.
If these two can come up with a CSA certified HRV that can provide that level of control for a price that contractors and home owners won’t balk at, well, more power to them. Many of the problems home owners run into in cold weather is that electric pre heat coils don’t get installed. Again, it comes down to cost to contractors.

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