AMO Supports Nearly $4 Million for Small Businesses to Advance, Develop and Commercialize Manufacturing Solutions

April 25, 2018

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Recently, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $99 million in grants to support small businesses in advancing scientific discoveries and developing and commercializing manufacturing solutions. As part of this effort, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) will provide funding support to four new advanced membrane projects across four states, totaling nearly $4 million in funding.

Small businesses that demonstrated technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research as part of DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs then competed to continue to Phase II for prototype or processes development research funding. The median award is $1 million for a period of two years.

AMO projects were selected under the Membranes and Materials for Energy Efficiency topic, one of 31 collaborative topics among multiple programs in DOE’s Office of Science. AMO also funds the development of substrates for membranes (the things that support the membranes).

Separation technologies recover, isolate, and purify products in virtually every industrial process. Using membranes rather than conventional energy-intensive technologies for separations could dramatically reduce energy use and costs in key industrial processes. Separation processes represent 40% to 70% of both capital and operating costs in industry and account for 45% of all the process energy used by the chemical and petroleum refining industries every year. In response, the DOE supports the development of high-risk, innovative membrane separation technologies and related materials.

Highlighted below are the selected awardees and their proposed projects. 

Covalent (Las Vegas, NV)

Project Title: Nanomembrane Interactive Forward Osmosis (FO) Polymers for Desalination and Remediation

Through this project, forward osmosis polymers will be developed for drawing water through nanomembranes to provide ultra-low energy, low cost, high-purity water from sources as diverse as seawater, wastewater, and water contaminated from natural, agricultural, industrial and other sources.

Mainstream Engineering Corporation (Rockledge, FL)

Project Title: Atomically Precise Membranes for the Separation of Hydrocarbons

New membranes are needed to improve the energy efficiency of chemical processing. Mainstream will focus on developing new materials capable of performing many more selective separations than were possible with previously available membranes.

NCO Technologies LLC (Concord, NC)

Project Title: Novel Low Cost Two-dimensional Atomically Precise Covalent Organic Membranes

In this research, 2D atomically precise covalent organic membranes with tailored carbon capture functionality will be developed based on pore engineering. If successful, this series of materials is promising for many applications such as flue gas purification and high performance automobile exhaust gas treatment systems.

nGimat LLC (Lexington, KY)

Project Title: Fabrication of High-quality NaA Zeolite Membranes with a Novel Plate & Frame Configuration for Molecular-scale Mixture Separations

Commercially available zeolite membranes manufactured by U.S. companies for precise mixture separations are lacking. nGimat LLC will develop novel zeolite membranes that will increase the efficiency of bioethanol dehydration and reduce the cost of implementation during this small business innovation research effort.

Small businesses play a major role in spurring innovation and creating jobs in the U.S. economy. The SBIR and STTR programs were created by Congress to leverage small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. Additional information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs is available HERE. More information about the projects announced is available HERE.

EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) supports early-stage research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security.