The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot has selected eight DOE national labs for collaborations with 38 small businesses in the third round of funding. Among these are two projects in the fuel cells area and four projects in the vehicle area. Other projects address advanced manufacturing, bioenergy, buildings, geothermal, solar, water and wind technologies.
In the first two rounds of the program, 12 DOE national labs received funding to partner with 76 small businesses. With the latest announcement, SBV will have awarded approximately $22 million to support partnerships between 114 US small businesses and the national labs.
The Round 3 fuel cell awardees are:
Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers. Savannah River National Laboratory has been awarded $300,000 to work with Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers to perform analysis on the performance and design of low pressure hydrogen storage systems to power mobile applications of Proton Exchange Membrane hydrogen fuel cells. Using SRNL’s unique modeling and system testing capabilities for metal hydride-based systems will help provide potential partners with realistic performance and cost estimates.
Emerald Energy NW. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been awarded $160,000 to work with Emerald Energy NW, LLC to fabricate and test a low-friction, low-loss, versatile rotary magnetic wheel seal test apparatus in collaboration with the PNNL magnetic liquefier team. This project could result in the design of a breakthrough rotary wheel to allow for a more rapid transition to cleaner, domestic, and less expensive gaseous fuels for the transportation sector.
The Round 3 vehicle awardees are:
Efficient Drivetrains. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded $140,000 to work with Efficient Drivetrains to test a lightweight, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain. This project will help get the first heavy-duty Class 6 vehicle to the commercial market, offering consumers an option that provides significant fuel economy without limiting driving range or fuel options.
Phinix. Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $300,000 to work with Phinix, LLC to validate and scale up a method for extracting magnesium from magnesium aluminide scrap metal alloys. This energy, environmental, and cost-efficient method of sourcing magnesium has the potential to reduce the amount of magnesium—the third most commonly used structural metal—needed to import from foreign countries.
Precision Polyolefins. Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $180,000 to work with Precision Polyolefins LLC, of College Park, MD, to test its new technology that converts inexpensive and abundant feedstocks derived from natural gas into synthetic oils for use in auto lubricant. This project could potentially improve fuel economy by up to 0.5%, as well as have applications beyond vehicles, such as for industrial gear oils and wind turbine gear oils.
Advano. Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded $180,000 to work with Advano to develop functionalized silicon nanoparticles, which are used in the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries. By partnering with ANL, this project seeks to lower the cost of silicon nanoparticles which could significantly increase the specific energy of lithium-ion batteries.
In the advanced manufacturing area, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded $70,000 to work with BASiC 3C, Inc. towards developing a new semiconductor as a replacement for silicon. This would provide greater efficiency, voltage capability, temperature operation, and higher tolerance to harsh operating conditions than existing models. The project will work with NREL to identify any remaining impurities in the current model, with the goal of disrupting the silicon power switch industry, currently a $12B market. Additionally, according to Toyota, development of a semiconductor material will increase the range of electric vehicles by 10%.