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a photo of cogs, with the words "SBIR - STTR - America's Seed Fund".

DOE is one of 11 federal agencies participating in the SBIR program enacted under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982.[1] Now the SBIR-STTR programs work with eligible small technology firms to stimulate innovative, cost-effective solutions to challenging scientific and engineering problems.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: NEW SMALL BUSINESS TOPICS

Topics Issue Date

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

FOA Issue Date

Monday, December 16, 2019

AMO-Specific Webinar

Download slides from the webinar.

Deadline for Mandatory Letter of Intent

Monday, January 6, 2020

Deadline for Full Applications

Monday, February 24, 2020

View details, including the full list of topics and FOA, on the DOE SBIR / STTR page.

On December 16, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs issued a funding opportunity announcement for FY20 Phase I funding for its applied energy programs, including the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Below are excerpts from the four topics (and seven subtopics) involving DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) (https://energy.gov/eere/amo).

GENERAL: All proposals must be consistent with the AMO mission: “AMO collaborates with industry, small business, universities, and other stakeholders to catalyze research, development and adoption of energy-related advanced manufacturing technologies and practices to drive U.S. energy productivity and economic competitiveness,” and all technologies proposed under the AMO topic should be able to demonstrate manufacturability, technical merit, an excellent team, and high impact in AMO’s mission areas. Applications must:

  • Propose a tightly structured program with appropriate technical milestones
  • Provide evidence of relevant R&D experience and capability of applicant
  • Provide evidence that the proposed technology can be scaled
  • Project price and/or performance improvements tied to a recent baseline
  • Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the technology from those commercially available
  • Include a preliminary cost analysis
  • Justify all performance claims with appropriate models/simulations and/or relevant experimental data

(Full topic overview on page 26 of DOE’s technical topics.)

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING OFFICE-SPECIFIC (TOPIC 6) SUBTOPICS

Atomic Precision for Energy Efficient and Clean Energy-Related Microelectronics (6a)

(Full subtopic on pages 26 – 28 of DOE’s technical topics.)

Atomic precision (AP) for microelectronics is less stringent than prior AMO atomically precise topics because it allows for cutting-edge deposition-based technologies with almost no unintentional defects, missing atoms, extra atoms, or incorrect (impurity) atoms. Thus, AP microelectronics can include novel 2D materials, but such approaches must maximize lateral geometry precision within an atomic layer. Energy-efficient AP microelectronics are those that take advantage of atomic precision to make chips and related processes more energy efficient than traditional microelectronics. Clean energy-related AP microelectronics take advantage of atomic precision-related performance improvements for clean energy technologies. The subtopic a. references that start on page 32 provide more background and motivation for this topic from the DOE and industry perspective and describe cutting-edge technology approaches that might be supported under this topic including HDL, ALD, ALE, CNT, self-assembly and other technologies and techniques to make the above approaches more manufacturable.

Questions – Contact: Tina Kaarsberg, tina.kaarsberg@ee.doe.gov.  

Sensors for Harsh and Corrosive Environments (6b)

(Full subtopic on pages 28 – 29 of DOE’s technical topics.)

Harsh and corrosive environments encountered in industry include oil, gas, and geothermal well drilling and production, as well as CO2 gas sequestration applications – conditions with pressures reaching 20,000 pounds per square inch (psi), temperatures up to 1200°C in corrosive environments. Candidate sensor technologies would monitor pressure, temperature, composition, flow rates, and other variables in these environments. This subtopic is restricted to terrestrial and undersea industrial applications only – aerospace sensor research and development is specifically excluded.

Areas of interest within this subtopic are as follows:

  1. Innovations in materials and configurations of sensors applied in harsh and corrosive environments
  1. Wide area networks of sensors applied in harsh and corrosive environments

Questions – Contact: Brian Valentine, brian.valentine@ee.doe.gov, or Al Hefner, allen.hefner@ee.doe.gov.

Critical Materials Supply Chain Enabling Research (6c)

(Full subtopic on pages 29 – 31 of DOE’s technical topics.)

In response to White House Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, the Secretary of Interior published a list of critical minerals in 2018. The Department of Energy (DOE) assesses material criticality based on importance to energy and the potential for supply risk for a range of energy technologies. This SBIR subtopic provides the opportunity to strengthen the domestic critical materials supply chain. Proposals should not be duplicative of existing efforts at the Critical Materials Institute. Proposals are encouraged to address, but are not limited to the following areas of interest:

  1. Reduction of Critical Materials in Energy Technologies: Responsive proposals to this area of interest should seek to significantly reduce critical materials content in energy technologies. Refer to the full subtopic description for complete details on suggested critical material and energy technologies. Proposals that either target reduction of critical materials in batteries or propose a system to completely substitute for critical material-dependent technology will be considered non-responsive.
  2. Energy-Efficient Manufacturing of Critical Materials: Reducing energy consumption through investment in advanced processes and technologies can enable domestic supply chain manufacturing competitiveness. Proposals in this area of interest are encouraged to increase energy efficiency by targeting reduction of energy intensity of processing and manufacturing of critical materials or critical components for energy technologies.

Proposals must include analysis to demonstrate that the improvements in energy efficiency of processing and manufacturing of critical materials represent a 10% improvement in cost-competitiveness relative to a defined baseline.

Questions – Contact: Helena Khazdozian, helena.khazdozian@ee.doe.gov.

Water Desalination: Cost-Effective Energy Recovery for Modular Desalination Systems (6d)

(Full topic on pages 31 – 32 of DOE’s technical topics.)

In October 2018, the Water Security Grand Challenge (WSGC) was announced to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. The subtopic is focused on the WSGC’s goal 5 – small, modular desalination systems that have the potential to serve areas where energy and/or clean water is scarce, expensive, or challenging to obtain, such as islands, rural areas, and communities affected by a disaster. Affordable energy recovery devices (ERDs) need to be developed to reduce power consumption in small, modular desalination systems. Proposals should address how the ERD innovation will improve the lifecycle energy efficiency and production costs per m3 of water for small, modular seawater or brackish water desalination systems, particularly those using renewable energy.

Questions – Contact: Melissa Klembara, Melissa.Klembara@ee.doe.gov.

For references for AMO-specific subtopics, see pages 32 – 35 of DOE’s technical topics.

Joint Topics and Subtopics with Other Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Offices (Topics 15, 16, and 17)

Novel Utilization Strategies for Ocean Plastic Waste (AMO and BETO) (15a)

(Full topic on pages 73 – 74 of DOE’s technical topics.)

This topic seeks technologies for converting waste plastics into a useful product (including mechanical, chemical, biochemical, or other conversion methods). It is expected that applicants may have programs that investigate multiple areas for addressing ocean plastic waste including plastic collection and end-product testing, and applicants must discuss how their technology will address issues of mixed plastics and contamination unique to plastics recovered from waterways. However, awardees from this solicitation will only be funded for development of a conversion technology.

Questions – Contact: Melissa Klembara, Melissa.Klembara@ee.doe.gov, or Jay Fitzgerald, Jay.Fitzgerald@ee.doe.gov.

For references see page 74 of DOE’s technical topics.

Advanced, Affordable Thermal Energy Storage (16) (BTO and AMO) subtopics

(Full topic, subtopics and references on pages 74 – 80 of DOE’s technical topics.)

In this thermal energy storage (TES) topic, the Building Technologies Office (BTO) and AMO partner to solicit innovative research and development projects capable of addressing barriers to TES in buildings and in industry. The Phase I application should detail material, design and/or bench scale systems that are scalable to a subsequent Phase II prototype development.

Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings (16a)

(Full subtopic is on pages 76 – 78 of DOE’s technical topics.)

Although industrial buildings energy use is significant, AMO is mainly focused on subtopic b. of this topic—key metrics for this subtopic are in Table 1 on page 77.

Questions – Contact: Sven Mumme, sven.mumme@ee.doe.gov.

Thermal Energy Storage in Industry and Relevant Materials Manufacturing (16b)

(The full subtopic is on pages 78 – 79 of DOE’s technical topics.)

This subtopic seeks to accelerate the development of non-building (including industrial and solar thermal) applications of thermal energy storage materials that address limitations of current materials. Except for industrial building heating and cooling applications covered in subtopic a, thermal energy of interest to industry is generally at a much higher temperature – both in terms of the minimum temperature of thermal energy (1) needed as inputs to industrial processes, and (2) available as “waste (or renewable) heat” to be stored. Although there are two broad areas of interest (below), AMO will consider other research relevant to this subtopic.

  1. Industrial Thermal Energy Storage Systems: Proposed storage systems should increase use of waste and renewable (e.g. solar, geothermal) heat cost-effectively.
  2. Materials Manufacturing Research: All types of storage are of interest (sensible, latent and thermochemical). Materials of interest include PCM (encapsulated and not), inorganic molten salt, Ni-based alloys, and stainless steels.

Questions – Contact: Tina Kaarsberg, tina.kaarsberg@ee.doe.gov, or Robert Gemmer, bob.gemmer@ee.doe.gov

See pages 80-82 of DOE’s technical topics for references.

Compact Power Conditioning Systems for High-Torque, Low-Speed Machines (17a)

(The full subtopic is on pages 82 – 83 of DOE’s technical topics.)

This subtopic is focused on manufacturing power conditioning systems (PCS) to meet the needs for electronic drive of high-torque low-speed machines to be used in future high-power direct-drive wind and low-head marine hydrokinetic (MHK) generators. These machines need to meet  large generator grid integration requirements and need to be compact and low weight to meet requirements for the turbine location and assembly. Advanced high-voltage high-frequency silicon-carbide power semiconductors will enable these needs to be met by providing:

  • Medium-voltage drive (3.3 – 10 kV) to reduce current requirements
  • High-frequency switching to mitigate high fault currents (that would result from the low impedance of these machines) without using bulky passive filters
  • Extremely low harmonics needed to prevent eddy current heating near the cryogenic windings of superconducting machines

Applicants must define: Phase I – advanced PCS approaches including topology, technology, and controls to address challenges of advanced very high-power wind turbines and MHK turbines; Phase II – experimental validation of advanced approaches.

Questions – Contact: Rajesh Dham, rajesh.dham@ee.doe.gov, Michael Derby, michael.derby@ee.doe.gov, or Al Hefner allen.hefner@ee.doe.gov.

See page 83 of DOE’s technical topics for references.

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[1] DOE also is one of five agencies participating in the STTR program authorized in 1992.