Remembering Doug Smith, Founder of NanoCool

Remembering Doug Smith, Founder of NanoCool

Doug Smith pictured with his daughter

Pelican BioThermal regretfully announces the passing of Doug Smith, a pioneer in the insulation and temperature-controlled packaging industries. Doug, a proud father and grandfather, avid cook and caring employer, passed away on January 11, 2021. 

As the founder of NanoCool (recently acquired by Pelican BioThermal) and seven other related ventures, Doug was integral in advancing the industry through the science of phase change materials and thermal insulation.  In 1994, he founded NanoPore Incorporated with a focus on research and development of nanoporous material technology for thermal and electrical insulation and adsorption cooling. Under the umbrella of NanoPore, he created Nanoglass LLC (with Honeywell), NanoPore Insulation LLC (which later became KevoThermal), NanoPore Insulation Ltd., NanoCool LLC, NanoBev LLC, NanoSorb GmbH, and NanoFrio LLC. 

Doug placed a huge emphasis on the workplace and his employees, who were like family to him. He was the type of leader who would walk the shop floor every day to say hello, and he based his decision to sell the company on ensuring the right fit and the ability to keep his team intact. 

In years past, Doug received and turned down many offers to sell NanoCool.  He was not interested in the money from the sale, but rather the well-being of his employees.  His research proved Pelican BioThermal was indeed the right fit and it was in early 2020 that he sold NanoCool to Pelican BioThermal. 

There’s a link that ties Doug to Pelican BioThermal long before the sale of NanoCool. In 2000, Doug co-founded Cool Logistics in the United Kingdom. The company rapidly became Europe’s leading supplier of single-use pharmaceutical temperature-controlled shipping containers with a wide range of cost-effective cold chain solutions. Years after Doug and his co-founders sold Cool Logistics to another company in the UK, it was purchased by Pelican BioThermal in 2014.  This allowed for the expansion of Pelican BioThermal’s global footprint and portfolio of single-use and reusable passive temperature-controlled containers.

A pinnacle to Doug’s legacy and one of the threads that ties together all of his work is energy efficiency. In his 2007 testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Doug shared how Congress should focus its efforts on improving the energy efficiency of existing technologies, instead of creating alternative energy sources. He provided examples of how his projects focused on improving energy efficiency by 80 to 90 percent and reduced fuel usage to ship pharmaceuticals. He encouraged Congress to be an example – to invest in Energy Star rated vending machines and newer air conditioners for its own buildings, while also funding research projects for new energy efficient technologies.

Doug Smith’s list of accomplishments in the industry is long. After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, he began his career as a Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the NSF Center for Micro-Engineered Ceramics. There he started his research in nanotechnology and published 85 articles on various topics.

Today, due to Doug’s innovations, more than 100 patents bear his name. The patents include everything from processes for producing materials, to devices used for cooling, to temperature-controlled packaging products and methods that revolutionized the industry. Some of Doug’s genius patented ideas even came from the rudimentary idea of cooling a can of beer.

In his free time, Doug enjoyed reading a good biography or suspense novel, as well as cooking and barbecuing. Years ago, he created a cookbook and gifted it to friends and family. In true Doug fashion, a humorous story or anecdote accompanied each recipe. 

Those closest to Doug remember him most for his humor and his generous nature. He cared a great deal about what he was doing and how it would help people. He cared about making the world a better place. He cared about his employees—making them feel valued, providing careers for them, and making sure they would be protected when it came time to sell the company.  

Doug was one-of-a-kind and his accomplishments and legacy will never be forgotten. Pelican BioThermal is honored to have worked with Doug Smith and proud to continue on with NanoCool, one of Doug’s greatest contributions to the world.