Innovator: Sona Pohlova and Tomas Zacek
Age: 31 and 36
Title: Architects and co-founders of Ecocapsule, a startup in Bratislava, Slovakia, with four full-time employees
Form and function
Made of insulated steel and aluminum with a fiberglass shell, the Ecocapsule is a 1.1-ton, 70-square-foot mobile home powered by wind and solar energy for off-the-grid living.
In 2009 the co-founders entered a competition to design a small home. They didn’t win but drew enough interest from potential buyers that they kept working on it.
The capsule, available later this year from the company’s website, costs about $90,000, plus shipping.
Enter through a hatch in the 15-by-7-by-8-foot pod to find a small stove, toilet, and shower on one side and a foldout bed and table on the other. The capsule’s wooden interior can be customized for various uses.
The capsule can generate as much as 1.35 kilowatts via a wind turbine and solar panels on the roof. It stores up to 10kw in a rechargeable battery with a seven-year life span.
Ecocapsule is processing its first 50 preorder deposits and has received 17,000 e-mails expressing interest, including from U.S. Army contractors, Zacek says.
Ecocapsule is seeking $1 million in capital so it can begin larger-scale production. Peter Wheelwright and Alison Mears, architecture professors at New York’s New School, say they worry its materials may be environmentally unfriendly and possibly unsafe. Aluminum production is energy-intensive, and some fiberglass products can contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical. Zacek says the materials are safe. He and Pohlova are researching alternative materials, such as hemp, to make the capsule greener.