Funding: The company received $2 million from the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and a total of $1.5 million from Small Business Innovative Research programs at various federal agencies, the Maryland Technology Development Corp., Maryland Industrial Partnerships, the Montgomery County Technology Growth Program, Ford Motor Co. and Northrop Grumman Newport News.
Big idea: VorCat is developing software to simulate the effect of turbulence on the flow of air, liquid, gas and particles. "Most engineering applications in the real world involve turbulent flow," said Peter Bernard, chief technology officer, so understanding how turbulence affects flow is integral to the design process. No matter what you're designing, "you want to design it to have the right surface."
How it works: When building a new car, engineers create a complicated grid, a "numerical mesh" upon which a series of equations are solved to predict the forces exerted on the car at specific points. The method doesn't allow engineers to see what's happening between those points, so small eddies of turbulence fall through the cracks, yielding inaccurate results. VorCat's software calculates the effects of turbulence at all points by simulating small vortices. The software solves equations that describe how the vortices move and change size and direction, predicting the cumulative effect of turbulence in the air flow.
Example of use: While the company will initially focus on selling its product to the automotive market, said Jacob Krispin, president and chief executive, VorCat's software also can simulate dispersion of biological hazards in the atmosphere or inside of buildings, or the flow of blood in artificial hearts. The aerospace and marine industries also are future potential customers, he said.
Price: Krispin estimated that a license for the software will cost $60,000 to $100,000 a year.
Founded: VorCat spun off from Krispin Technologies in 2001.
Who's in charge: Krispin and Bernard.
Employees: Three full-time and three part-time.
Web site: www.vorcat.com
Partners: University of Maryland at College Park and RCCM in Japan.
What the name means: "VorCat is an acronym for vortex-based computational algorithm for turbulence," Krispin said.
Quote: "One thing that hinders us . . . in talking to VCs and laymen is it's very, very hard to explain what we're doing," Krispin said. "There's no short version here."
-- Andrea Caumont