Small Business Innovations the Focus of Latest DoE Grant
The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DoE) announced Friday that it has awarded $16 million to 88 small businesses for technologies that support or enhance energy systems. In a statement released last week, the DoE said the funds “highlight President Obama’s focus on small businesses as leaders in an economy built to last.”
According to the statement, the technologies were chosen based on having a “strong potential for commercialization and job creation” and added that the funds “will help small businesses with promising ideas that could improve manufacturing processes, boost the efficiency of buildings, reduce reliance on foreign oil, and generate electricity from renewable sources.”
The grant supports a wide variety of projects across numerous energy technologies, including batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, biofuels, solar, geothermal, nuclear, and hydrokinetics. The types of projects being explored include OLED (organic light emitting diode) panels, gas leak detection systems for hydrogen fueling stations, adsorbent materials for carbon capture, advanced fuel injection devices, slurry pumps for biomass refining, and 3D simulation technology.
Awards ranged in size, but most businesses received $150,000 to $225,000 in grant money.
NEI Corp., Piscataway, N.J., was awarded $149,984 to develop a nano-scale coating that will improve the efficiency and durability of hydraulic turbines. Ganesh Skandan, CEO of NEI told IMT Green & Clean Journal that the coating will address issues with cavitation and particle erosion in hydraulic turbines, which can cause flow instability and vibration, and ultimately make the systems less efficient. The two-layer nanocomposite coating will reduce the coefficient of friction for turbine components, and thus reduce the rate of wear. Skandan said the money will help his company “demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed technology/concept, and help reduce the risk for future funding or investment.”
Dr. Sergei Ostapenko, CEO of Ultrasonic Technologies, West Chapel, Fl., is developing a quality control process for crystalline silicon solar and ceramic solid oxide fuel cells. The tool will be used in-line in the manufacturing process to reduce cost, save energy, and increase yield of module production. In an interview, he said the system will “force hidden defects to pronounce themselves.” The $149,468 from the DoE will help the company develop both hardware and software. “We will do computer modeling to further develop the prototype, as well as build hardware prototypes for high-volume testing with customers,” he said.
“Small businesses form the backbone of our economy, employing half of our workers and creating two out of every three new jobs in the U.S.,” said Acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. “The grants announced today are just the latest step in the Energy Department’s efforts to support the critical role that small businesses are playing in creating jobs for American workers and expanding our country’s clean energy economy. These businesses are helping to reduce our dependence on imported oil and to protect our air and water, while ensuring that the United States leads in the global clean energy race.”
The funds are being supported by the Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Office of Environmental Management, Office of Fossil Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) through the Energy Department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
The SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development with technologies that have the potential for commercialization. STTR is a similar program that expands public/private sector partnerships to include joint ventures for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
The full list of recipients can be viewed here.