The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $116 million in grants to small businesses for research under the department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
The research projects are in 49 technical topic areas including energy storage for hybrid and electric vehicles, thermoelectic waste heat recovery, biohydrogen, coal gasification, oil sands and shale production technologies and carbon sequestration.
The department selected 113 SBIR projects and 15 STTR projects for Phase II awards to continue their research and development effort. The SBIR Phase II awards average $719,000 each and the STTR awards average $750,000 each for a period of up to two years.
One hundred ninety-three companies in 33 states were selected to receive a total of 291 Phase I grants worth up to $100,000 each to explore the feasibility of their proposed innovation.
The winning projects were selected from among 1,387 Phase I grant applications and 253 SBIR/STTR Phase II grant applications. This year’s Phase II winners were among the successful Phase I winners in last fiscal year’s SBIR/STTR competition.
The SBIR and STTR programs are US government programs where federal agencies with large research and development budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. The SBIR and STTR programs are very similar, except in the STTR program the small business must collaborate with a non-profit research institution. The Office of Science administers the programs for DOE.
A small sampling of the award winners includes:
|Energy Storage for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicles—Phase II|
|MER Corporation (Materials and Electrochemical Research)||Improved Performance of Lithium-ion Cells at Low Temperature||A high performance additive material is proposed to improve the low temperature performance of organic-solvent-based electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries. It would benefit the Nation to become the source of the economical additive material for lithium-ion batteries, which can be used for automotives, electronics, and virtually any secondary power requirement.|
|Physical Sciences Inc.||Electroactive Polymer Separator to Protect from Overcharging in Lithium Ion Batteries||This project will promote energy efficient transportation through improvements in the performance of Li-ion batteries used in hybrid electric vehicles. Overcharging of individual cells within a battery is one of the dominant causes for the short cycle life of hybrid electric vehicle battery packs. This proposed separator is a cost-effective tool to prevent the deleterious effects of overcharging, and thereby enable long life rechargeable batteries.|
|TIAX, LLC||Technology to Improve the Performance of Lithium-Ion Cells at Low Temperatures||Previously, potential pathways were identified for improving low-temperature performance of lithium iron phosphate, used in automotive batteries. Based on this research, this project will develop a material that meets the requirements for automotive batteries at low temperatures.|
|TOXCO Inc.||Improved Electrolytes For Electrochemical Capacitors||Hybrid electric vehicles will require the use of ultra capacitors, which currently contain a flammable, toxic electrolyte for high performance. This project is replacing this undesirable electrolyte with a non-flammable non-toxic electrolyte, with heightened performance and increased voltage range.|
|Energy Storage for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicles—Phase I|
|EIC Laboratories, Inc.||Improving the Performance of Lithium Ion Batteries at Low Temperature||Li-ion batteries are ideally suited for use as high power energy storage system in electric (EV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). However, the most critical issues for Li-ion batteries are the decrease in discharge pulse power at low temperatures and the fading of power over time due to use and aging. We propose to develop and design advanced battery components and chemistries that will reduce the interfacial impedance at low temperature of the Li-ion cell. This will significantly enhance the power performance of Li-ion cells at the low temperature range.|
|Farasis Energy, Inc.||Novel, Redox-Stabilized Li-Ion Cell||A novel, low cost, safety protection system will be developed for Li-ion cells that are critical for the introduction of large, multi-cell packs required by many of the applications in the growing environmental technologies markets.|
|Ionix Power Systems, LLC||Improved Electrode Materials for Electrochemical Capacitors Based on Nonsynthetic Precursor Materials||This project will develop advanced low cost electrode materials and manufacturing processes for energy storage components used in hybrid vehicles. Achievement of the goals outlined in the proposal will make the cost of this component commercially feasible in vehicle applications.|
|NEI Corporation||High Power Density Li-Ion Batteries With Good Low Temperature Performance||The proposed new class of low cost rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, with good low temperature performance, will improve the performance of hybrid electric vehicles and lower their cost, thereby enabling rapid market penetration of these low emission vehicles.|
|TDA Research, Inc.||Low-Cost Porous Carbons for Ultracapacitors||For ultracapacitors to be used as high-power energy sources for electric and hybrid vehicles, less expensive porous carbons (the key component of the devices) are needed. To reduce the cost of ultracapacitors, inexpensive sugars will be used to make porous carbons that cost much less and perform as well as the best materials currently available.|
|TIAX, LLC||Nano-Structured Carbon/Silicon Composite for High Energy, Long Cycle Life Lithium-Ion Batteries||A low cost, high performance electrode material will be developed for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and will enable them to meet the performance and cost targets for their commercialization in electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles.|
|Thermoelectric Waste Heat Recovery—Phase II and Phase I|
|Hi-Z Technology, Inc.||Reduction of Parasitic Losses to Improve Quantum Well Efficiency (Phase II)||Huge amounts of renewable waste heat are being generated from vehicles and the basic materials industries such as refineries, aluminum plants, steel mills, etc. This project is to develop a process to convert some of this waste heat into electricity and save 300 to 1000 barrels of oil a year.|
|Hi-Z Technology, Inc.||High Temperature Quantum Well Thermoelectric Materials (Phase I)||This project will develop high temperature quantum well thermoelectrics that will lead to large (>10%) reduction in manufacturing and industrial sector energy losses.|
|Hydrogen—Phase II and Phase I|
|GVD Corporation||A High-Throughput Assay for Microbe-Based Hydrogen Production (Phase II)||Certain types of algae and bacteria can facilitate the conversion of sunlight directly into hydrogen, and could turn out to be the most sustainable source of energy for the future. Our goal is to accelerate progress in this area by developing an instrument that can quickly and accurately identify those microbes which are producing hydrogen, allowing researchers to pinpoint and harvest candidate organisms many times faster than previously possible.|
|TDA Research, Inc.||High Efficiency, Low-Cost Reforming to Produce Hydrogen (Phase II)||This project will develop technology to enhance the generation of hydrogen in large-scale plants. The overall goal is to reduce the cost of hydrogen production from natural gas, increase its efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.|
|Farasis Energy, Inc.||Novel Approach to Microbial Hydrogen Production (Phase I)||A novel, commercially viable platform for the production of hydrogen by microbes from agricultural biomass will be developed in conjunction with a robotic instrument capable of rapidly detecting hydrogen formation in micro-scale bacterial samples.|
|Eltron Research Inc.||A New Compact Hydrogen Generation Device (Phase I)||This project proposes the development of a single step compact hydrogen generator. This generator will combine several technologies into a single compact apparatus for the generation of pure hydrogen. CO2 sequestration is also easily accommodated. The combined technologies will work well at large throughputs, but also very well in very small sizes, perhaps opening the pathway to efficient, compact, low cost hydrogen production in small stationary applications as well as on board vehicles.|
Full list of SBIR/STTR projects