The Yukon government and Yukon College have awarded the 2019 Yukon Innovation Prize to Phylo Technologies for its invention of a device that makes ventilation systems in homes more sustainable. (Submitted)

New ventilation tech wins Yukon Innovation Prize

After attaching to a home’s ventilation system, Phylo can detect contaminants

The Yukon government and Yukon College have awarded the 2019 Yukon Innovation Prize to Phylo Technologies for its invention of a device that makes ventilation systems in homes more sustainable.

Since 2014, the $60,000 prize has been given to entrepreneurial inventors in the Yukon to help them bring their ideas to the market. It was created by Yukon College’s Cold Climate Initiative and the Yukon government’s Department of Economic Development.

Each year’s theme was clean tech.

Thomas Jaquin and Cody Reaume’s winning invention, also named Phylo, connects to a home’s heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system — which removes stale air from a home and brings in clean air from outside — and detects when the air of a home is filled with contaminants.

It then programs the HRV to bring in clean air when the air is contaminated and turn itself off once the air is clean.

The duo came up with the idea when Reaume started living with an HRV last summer and was surprised the technology wasn’t more sophisticated.

“With the existing (HRV) systems, they generally run at a steady state or just on a timer. So the ventilation is just always running or is run on a timer. So that either ends up under-ventilating or over-ventilating, and it’s hard to know which one is happening.”

By programming HRV’s to shut down when the air is clean, the product conserves energy.

Jaquin also highlighted how Phylo can help consumers know if their air is clean and have more control of their homes’ HRV.

“You can get a little unit that tests your air that already exists, but then you still have an issue there because if it tells you that your air is not super good, then that’s all it does,” he said.

“So now you have to go to your HRV controller on the wall, and the problem’s that you don’t really understand how it works…. So what we’re doing here is that (Phylo) takes both of these two things together, detecting the air and controlling your HRV. It’s doing all that for you and you don’t have to think about it.”

Jaquin and Reaume plan to use the prize money to build a better prototype of Phylo before testing it in more people’s homes. Once they refine Phylo more, they hope to start selling it in the Yukon and possibly outside the territory as well.

Lauren Manekin Beille, manager of innovation and entrepreneurship at Yukon College, highlighted the project’s commercial potential.

“They are at a very early stage of their research and development, and this significant amount of funds can really go to help them prototype an idea that will have significant impact,” she said.

“And we love the idea that it’s exportable. So it’s not just Yukoners that would use this. This is something that would go international for people to be smarter about the energy consumption that people use in their homes and actually take control over it for nominal price.”

Contact Joshua Azizi at joshua.azizi@yukon-news.com

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