The City of Fort Collins and Fort Collins Utilities recently announced the results of the inaugural Innovate Fort Collins EV Charging Challenge. The winner is a company called Qmulus, whose SmartCharge Adapter functions as a link between an electric vehicle and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to collect data about charging habits and manage load control and metering. But who is Qmulus and how did they come to be on the leading edge of electric vehicle support technology?
A Startup that’s Just Getting Started
If your curiosity about Qmulus has taken you to the internet in search of company details, you will have come away mostly empty handed, other than mentions in a few recent articles. The small Illinois-based startup has focused all of its time and effort to date on creating and enhancing the SmartCharge Adapter and has not yet brought a website online.
“We’ve got a number of parallel activities underway, from continuing the evolution of the product to finalizing the formation of our company to preparing for our beta testing with the City of Fort Collins,” said company co-founder and veteran entrepreneur Matthew Raymond, a man who clearly understands there is no value in putting the cart before the horse. “We’ll have a website up early next year.”
As for the company’s name, it’s a clever combination of two aspects of its area of expertise. “We chose ‘cumulus’ because the technology is increasingly headed in the direction of cloud computing,” said Raymond. “And we used ‘Q’ as the initial letter for its role as a parameter in electrical equations.”
From Chicago’s West Side to Northern Colorado
The SmartCharge Adapter is the brainchild of Jason Harper, an electrical engineer and researcher at Argonne National Laboratory. The lab is a multidisciplinary science and engineering center operated by the University of Chicago for the United States Department of Energy.
If the lab’s name sounds familiar, that’s likely because it was the site of the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The lab’s nuclear research ended in 1994, and today it is involved in a wide range of disciplines, from renewable energy and energy storage to environmental sustainability to national security.
What’s Next for Qmulus?
Argonne has produced 30 prototypes of the SmartCharge Adapter and will soon begin testing them for characteristics like weather resistance, durability, etc. “This validation study is pivotal to Qmulus,” says Raymond. “We’re confident that all the features developed in the original prototype will function properly when the adapter is mass produced, but this next phase with Argonne will help us confirm that. From there, we will move into our testing with the City of Fort Collins and Fort Collins Utilities in mid- to late-winter.”
Looking further down the road, Qmulus is hoping to make a big impact on the electric vehicle industry. As you might expect with technology that has only recently gone “mainstream,” the related systems are still developing.
“The electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the United States is still fairly weak,” said Raymond. “My goal, along with my co-founder Richard Eichhold, is to continue to work with Jason to improve the framework and to expand the use of electric vehicles. We feel it's critical that our country accelerate its reduction in greenhouse gases and slow the rate of climate change, and we’re excited to be advancing the technology that can help make that happen.