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DOE awards $17M to FY 2014 SBIR Phase II projects; includes Si/graphene anodes, motor windings, exhaust treatments

The US DOE recently awarded $17 million to 17 FY 2014 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II projects to further develop Phase I projects and to produce a prototype or equivalent within two years. The selected 17 awards represent the best of nearly 1,000 ideas submitted for the FY 2012/13 Broad Based Topic Solicitation, DOE said.

The selected projects include 6 vehicle-related technologies and 2 hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as new hydropower, heat pump, solar and manufacturing technologies. Vehicle technologies span a range from new Si/graphene Li-ion anode materials and composites for motor windings to diesel aftertreatment and advanced lubricants. Selected vehicle and hydrogen technology projects are:

FY 2014 SBIR Phase II vehicle projects
Lead organization Description Funding
Mainstream Engineering Corp. Hybrid Electric Turbocharger for Exhaust Energy Recovery and Transient Lag Reduction.
Mainstream Engineering Corp. of Rockledge, Florida is developing a hybrid electric turbocharger for cars and trucks that both reduces fuel consumption and improves drivability by shortening the transient response time (reducing turbo lag) during acceleration. The reduced fuel consumption will extend the effective range of the turbo vehicle. By the end of Phase II, Mainstream plans to demonstrate a production-ready prototype that exceeds DOE targets for fuel economy, operating range, and cost.
Nextech Materials NOx Sensor for Diesel Engine Emissions Systems.
NexTech Materials of Lewis Center, Ohio, has developed a new diesel engine exhaust NOx sensing technology that is able to rapidly and selectively measure nitrogen oxides in diesel engine exhaust streams. Additionally, NexTech has demonstrated the ability to tune their sensor technology to also detect and report on ammonia (NH3) emissions. NexTech Materials will use its NOx sensing technology to develop a low-cost device capable of accurately quantifying NOx concentrations in the exhaust stream of diesel passenger cars and heavy duty trucks.
Pixelligent Technologies LLC Nanocrystal Additives for Advanced Lubricants.
In order to increase fuel economy and lower emissions in vehicles through the use of better performing vehicle lubricants, Pixelligent Technologies LLC of Baltimore, Maryland, will develop an advanced lubricant package with high quality nanocrystal additives. These additives decrease clumping of nanoparticles in the oil and improve friction and wear properties. Their advanced dispersion technology which is based on the surface chemistry of the nanocrystals, gives them superior distribution in lubricant oils. This allows improved lubrication performance without altering clarity or viscosity.
XG Sciences, Inc. Low-Cost, High-Energy Si/Graphene Anodes for Li-Ion Batteries
XG Sciences Inc. (XGS) of Lansing, Michigan will develop a low-cost advanced Li-ion battery anode material for electric drive vehicle applications using graphene platelet Si stabilization technology (earlier post) and advanced hydrogel-type binders to overcome the technical challenges with Si anode self-pulverization and solid-electrolyte interphase instability. Project partners include Georgia Institute of Technology and LG Chem Power Inc.

Working with binder developed at Georgia Tech, XGS will optimize the nano-Si/Graphene nanocomposite material by adjusting porosity and density. The awardee will also tailor the electrolyte additive to improve cycle life while maintaining current cycle efficiency and capacity. XG Sciences’ graphene nanoplatelets also can be used to improve the performance of batteries and capacitors, printed electronics, coatings, and plastic structural components.
TDA Research, Inc. A Novel Exhaust after Treatment Catalyst.
To further reduce harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide from diesel engines, TDA Research, Inc. of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, will develop a new exhaust after-treatment system using new low temperature catalysts. Diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline powered engines, but have high emissions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide. When coupled with low-sulfur fuels, exhaust after-treatment technologies have proven to be among the cleanest and least expensive means to reduce such emissions.
nGimat LLC Composite Coatings for Low-Cost Motor Windings in Electric Vehicles.
This project will provide capability for much improved heat management in electric vehicle motors through development of innovative winding wire insulations with superior thermal management characteristics, while meeting the high electrical and mechanical performance standards set by the automotive industry. This cost-effective innovation in electric motor wire insulation is expected to result in a new generation of motors that will operate at lower temperatures, thereby providing higher power and efficiency.


FY 2014 SBIR Phase II hydrogen and fuel cell projects
Lead organization Description Funding
Composite Technology Development, Inc. Optimizing the Cost and Performance of Composite Cylinders for H2 Storage using a Graded Construction.
State-of-the-art hydrogen storage vessels for fuel cell cars are expensive to manufacture because of high carbon fiber costs. This project seeks to reduce the cost of these vessels by 25% by using low-cost carbon fibers in a graded construction of the vessel wall.
Treadstone Technologies, Inc. Novel Structured Metal Bipolar Plates for Low Cost Manufacturing.
The Department of Energy and US auto makers have revised the performance and cost targets of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) to enhance commercialization for transportation applications. The implementation of this project will reduce PEMFC cost meeting revised cost targets and meeting the technical and performance targets.


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