Andrew Heidloff, representing start-up company Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies, is one of America's Next Top Innovators. Secretary Chu announced the winners of the competition today at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. | Photo courtesy of ARPA-e contractor Dave Meyer.

It’s official! Secretary Chu recognized the winners of the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge this morning at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.

The winning startups were chosen out of 14 participating companies based on a public online vote and an expert review, and were selected based on their potential economic and societal impact. The three companies -- Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies, Inc., Umpqua Energy, and Vorbeck Materials -- are developing innovative technologies that have the potential to help America secure our clean energy future.

The Secretary highlighted the importance of unleashing startup companies to do what they do best: create new products, new industries, and new jobs. To support these startups' efforts, the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge made it easier, faster and less costly to obtain option agreements to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the labs.

Check out the descriptions of the winners below for more information about the technologies and their potential to change the way we use and produce energy:

Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies, Inc., a company based in Nevada, Iowa, is using gas atomization technology developed at Ames Laboratory to make titanium powder with processes that are 10 times more efficient than traditional powder-making methods -- significantly lowering the cost of the powder to manufacturers. View a video on the startup’s technology

Umpqua Energy, a company based in Medford, Oregon, is using an Argonne National Lab technology to develop a system that allows a gasoline engine to operate in an extreme lean burn mode to increase gas mileage. View a video on the startup’s technology

Vorbeck Materials, a company based in Jessup, Maryland, is using a method developed by Pacific Northwest National Lab for building tiny chemical structures to greatly improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. View a video on the startup’s technology here.