Newell Instruments was born in 1996 as a result of industry interest in a technology for concentration measurement that Ty developed as a faculty member at the University of Illinois. The refractive index measurement technology was patented by the University of Illinois, and Ty acquired a license from the University of Illinois in order to develop sensors for industrial research partners interested in the technology. The sensing technology can be developed in a number of configurations and sensitivity, and to date it has been used for in situ monitoring of lubricant concentration in refrigeration systems, measurement of machine cutting fluid concentration, beverage concentration (brewing, wine fermentation, fruit juices, etc), and several other miscible fluid concentrations.

Ben had worked with Ty developing sensors as a student, and he decided to join Newell Instruments after graduating in 2002 with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Illinois. We leased laboratory space at the University of Illinois technology incubator where we enjoyed an environment with other like-minded inventors and entrepreneurs.

Because of our background in refrigeration processes, we received requests from customers to conduct projects that span a range of topics from basic transport processes to full system design, prototyping and testing. We have a reputation for creating novel solutions to our customers’ problems. From domestic refrigerators to high tech air conditioners for military aircraft, we improve performance capabilities and efficiency of different systems, often while reducing cost and complexity.

We outgrew our laboratory on campus and in 2004, purchased our own facility on the east side of Urbana. Our 4400 square ft building is super-insulated, with new Energy Star windows, ground source heat pump and as of the summer of 2008, a 3.2kW grid-tied, solar PV system (photovoltaic) that we installed under the supervision of Tom DeBates (Habi-Tek).

A new phase of our growth began in 2005 as both Ben and Ty were members of the 2007 University of Illinois Solar Decathlon team. As a result of this experience, coupled with Ben and Tys’ shared interest in renewable energy, we decided to add net zero residential design to our activities. Ty has a long history in solar energy and building modeling and monitoring. Ben worked in house construction during high school and college. Both Ben and Ty recognized that the next generation of homes requires development of comfort conditioning systems currently not available. Also, it was clear that residences, the largest energy consumer in the building sector, suffers from a lack of engineering design and analyses. Therefore, in the spring of 2009, design of the Equinox House project began, with construction from the winter of 2009 to the fall of 2010.

Equinox House is 100% powered by the sun. Not only that, its solar PV system provided the energy to build it. And, that brings us to today. We continue our efforts to make systems more energy efficient, resource efficient, and powered by our daily allowance of solar energy.


How are a 1968 Porsche 912 and a 1935 Globetop refrigerator similar?

Both designs represent excellence in form and function, something we strive for at Newell Instruments.