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CIT GAP Funds Invests in WireTough Cylinders, LLC of Bristol, VA

02/02/2012

The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced today its Commonwealth Energy Fund (CEF) has invested $200,000 in Bristol, Va.-based WireTough Cylinders, LLC. WireTough manufactures compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders reinforced with steel wire, thus reducing weight, providing high safety, and increasing fuel-efficiency for vehicles.

WireTough’s on-board CNG cylinders are constructed with lightweight steel liners wrapped with a proprietary high strength steel wire, sealed with a special epoxy, and covered with a thin protective mesh. Over 23% lighter than regular steel tanks, WireTough’s cylinders exceeds US-DOT and ANSI-NGV-2 test requirements by performing well up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit as well as withstanding 50 caliber bullet punctures. These tests measure durability against environmental conditions, cut corrosion, extreme perforation, and fatigue, proving that WireTough’s steel wire delivers robust safety unlike other materials such as carbon fiber.

CIT President and CEO Pete Jobse said, “WireTough’s innovative fuel-efficient CNG storage tanks demonstrate the economical technology needed to in order to reduce our dependency on natural resources. With our investment, WireTough will become the forefront of transportation manufacturing.”

Jobse also noted the market opportunity for the company with last year’s executive order signed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell that sets out his state’s alternative fuel plan. During that signing ceremony, McDonnell said, “As we continue on the path toward making Virginia the 'Energy Capital of the East Coast,' it is important that we pursue all practicable and cost-effective options to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles. Increased use of alternative fuel vehicles holds the potential to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, support the expansion of private-sector businesses and create new jobs here in the Commonwealth.”

The WireTough team jointly holds over 30 U.S. patents and several new designs in aerospace, steel, and tire areas. WireTough’s technical goal is to reduce weight further by full wrap method and to develop 10,000 PSI hydrogen tanks.

Amit Prakash, WireTough CEO, said, “WireTough’s economical and safe tanks will accelerate acceptance of natural gas vehicles while reducing a dependence on foreign oil. CIT’s investment gives us an opportunity to generate these unique technologies and to grow our company. ”

Tom Weithman, CIT Vice President and CIT GAP Funds Managing Director, said, “Amit Prakash and his fellow WireTough technical founders use their expertise to build high strength steel tanks necessary for cars, trucks, and buses worldwide. With support from the Commonwealth Energy Fund (CEF), WireTough will expand their product outreach while also creating jobs within the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Since its 2005 launch, CIT GAP Funds has placed over 50 investments across the Commonwealth, deploying more than $5M of public funds and attracting $16 dollars of private funding for every $1 of public money invested. (For a list of portfolio companies, please visit the GAP Funds website.)

Drawing on the CIT GAP Funds investment model, CIT partnered with Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to establish the CEF to invest in commercially-ready innovation in Virginia’s energy and clean tech sectors.

To learn more about WireTough Cylinders, LLC, visit http://www.wiretough.com.

About the Center for Innovative Technology, http://www.cit.org

CIT is a nonprofit corporation that accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies. CIT creates new technology companies through capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology startup companies and advanced technology consumers.

About the CIT GAP Funds, http://www.citgapfunds.org

CIT GAP Funds makes seed-stage equity investments in Virginia-based technology, clean tech and life science companies with a high potential for achieving rapid growth and generating significant economic return for entrepreneurs, co-investors and the Commonwealth of Virginia. CIT GAP Funds investments are overseen by the CIT GAP Funds Investment Advisory Board (IAB). This independent, third-party panel consists of leading regional entrepreneurs, angel and strategic investors, and venture capital firms such as: New Enterprise Associates, Grotech Ventures, Valhalla Partners, Harbert Venture Partners HIG Ventures, Edison Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Intersouth Partners, SJF Ventures, Carilion Health Systems, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and Alpha Natural Resources.