The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has announced 70 grants totaling $10.5 million to small businesses to develop technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation. These awards will help small businesses with promising ideas for clean energy solutions that could improve manufacturing processes, boost the efficiency of buildings, reduce reliance on foreign oil, and generate electricity from renewable sources.
Funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through DOE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, these selections are for Phase I work. That means that the 70 awards will go toward exploring the feasibility of innovative concepts which could be developed into prototype technologies.
The projects will explore concepts in a variety of areas, including improving the performance of batteries, increasing the efficiency of engines, developing advanced materials and manufacturing methods, and reducing the supply-chain vulnerabilities for rare-earth materials. Sixty-three awards will go to SBIR projects, and another seven will go to STTR projects. A sample of the Phase I SBIR/STTR proposed research and development is highlighted below:
- A project to develop a new approach to whole-building energy systems control that could potentially save billions of dollars in U.S. energy costs by making buildings more efficient.
- A project to design concentrating photovoltaic multi-junction solar cells that will maintain extremely high efficiencies at realistic operating temperatures.
- A project to fabricate high-power, high-performance lithium solid state batteries that are safe for high-energy applications such as electric vehicles.
- A project to develop magnets that use little or none of the rare-earth element dysprosium. Such magnets are used in high-performance motors and generators, and this project could help mitigate the vulnerability of the rare-earth supply chain.