The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced awards totaling $110 million for diverse small businesses working on scientific, clean energy, and climate solutions for the American people. The 102 projects in 24 states are pursuing technological solutions in various areas, including advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and batteries, new instruments for atmospheric measurement, and particle accelerator technologies that can power next-generation scientific discoveries.
“For any small business owner, every new bit of money is a game-changer that frees them up to pursue bold new ideas in earnest,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This funding will give awardees a much-needed boost as they channel their entrepreneurial spirit into tackling the climate crisis, deploying creative clean energy technologies, and answering the biggest questions we have about the universe—all while creating new American jobs to sustain their communities.”
Small businesses are the backbone of American communities and industry, representing 99.9% of all U.S. businesses, employing nearly half of American workers, and creating two out of every three new jobs in the private sector.
The awards announced today are administered by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which were established to encourage diverse communities to participate in technological innovation, as well as create a bridge between DOE-supported science breakthroughs and viable products and services for the commercial market. The funding comes through DOE’s Office of Science (SC), as well as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
Selected projects include:
- Safer and more sustainable batteries. TalosTech in New Castle, Delaware is developing technology that addresses safety and sustainability concerns with lithium-ion batteries and will promote the development and commercialization of safer and more sustainable battery products in the United States.
- Innovation in nuclear physics to lower energy costs. The nation’s nuclear physics leadership depends on innovation and improvements for safety and performance. Starfire Industries LLC in Champaign, Illinois is developing a process that offers a means to maintain a competitive edge and ultimately lower energy costs with increased safety.
- Next-generation efficient nuclear reactors. In a collaborative project between HiFunda LLC in Salt Lake City, Idaho National Lab, and the University of Utah, this team will design, develop, and demonstrate an enabling technology for next-generation, salt-cooled nuclear reactors with power generation efficiencies of about 60% compared to 30% for conventional water-cooled nuclear reactors.
- Advanced research for studying plant roots. Plant roots are important in agriculture and in the environment but are mostly hidden from view. Geometric Data Analytics, Inc. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina makes it much faster, easier, and cheaper to measure roots and how they grow using advanced mathematics and cameras that take pictures underground.
- Methane detection technology. Blue Sky Measurements in Houston, Texas will develop a near-infrared passive scanner that uses sunlight to detect and measure methane emissions at oil or gas production well pads and drilling sites. Their technology will enable operators to continuously monitor their operations for fugitive emissions and enable owners to take corrective action when leaks occur, helping the oil and gas industry achieve EPA-targeted 45% reduction in related methane emissions by 2025.
“I’m proud to know that these grants will go towards helping BNNT Materials make critical advancements in nuclear technology,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner. “I trust these advancements will help promote national security, while keeping Virginia on the cutting edge of innovation research.”
“Significant investment will help Colorado businesses grow our economy and create cutting-edge technologies,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “These investments in research and development are critical to building innovative products and maintaining American competitiveness in the global market.”
“Thank you to Secretary Granholm and the dedicated staff at the Department of Energy for your continued commitment to supporting innovation at our small businesses. I’m excited about today’s announcement of SBIR and STTR grants and extend my congratulations to the awardees in Delaware: Talos Tech, who is receiving $1.5 million to promote safer and more sustainable batteries; and my friend Norm Wagner and STF Technologies of Newark, who is receiving $1.1 million to work with the University of Delaware and commercialize an instrument to aid our understanding of complex interfaces for a variety of industries, including biomedical, energy, and more. These are the types of investments we need to support scientific discovery and critical research in advanced manufacturing,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons.
“Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards have supported small businesses in Hawaii and across the country for decades. The Department of Energy’s SBIR awards boost innovation in science and sustainable energy, and help small businesses turn their new ideas into technologies to compete on a global level,” said U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of this country, and Massachusetts is an epicenter of innovation. The latest awards from the Small Business Innovation Research program will fund several Massachusetts-based companies as they develop clean, solar-driven chemistries, technologies that will enable better prediction of weather and climate, and sensors that will continue to push forward our understanding of the universe. I am proud that these companies call Massachusetts home, and look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have in building our just, clean-energy economy,” said U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey.
“California has a long history of our most innovative small companies making major breakthroughs. Funding new research will accelerate the development of cutting edge technologies to protect our planet, combat climate change, and grow our economy,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla.
“Representing Silicon Valley, America’s Capitol of innovation, I’ve seen countless small businesses pioneer breakthroughs that reshape our economy. Funding research, entrepreneurs and innovation creates the foundation necessary to meet the world’s toughest challenges. This funding will support efforts to improve lives and ensure America remains a global leader in technology and science,” said U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo.
“I want to congratulate two companies in my district, Rayonix, LLC, and QuesTek Innovations LLC, who have been awarded funding by the Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research program. The awards will help these small businesses advance their research capabilities in basic energy sciences. Through a competitive selection process, these projects were chosen for their potential for commercialization, and meet research and development needs for our nation. Specifically, this funding will advance X-ray technology, enable more precise studies of medicines and materials, and will make nuclear reactors safer by preventing corrosion,” said U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky. “Supporting the innovative efforts of our nation’s small businesses through programs like this is how the US will maintain its status as a global leader in innovation and job creation. I look forward to continuing to support these fantastic companies and other innovators in my district and around the Chicagoland area.”
For more information about DOE’s SBIR and STTR programs, visit the Programs Office website.
Featured image via SBIR website.