Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

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) Stiff segments (colored blocks) of the cartoon triangular pore macromolecule are made of cyclic building blocks linked through pairs of bonds. The corners present linking groups that will covalently link with other identical macromolecules...

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

The SBIR-STTR programs release Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for Phase I and Phase II projects each fiscal year, referred to as Release 1 and Release 2. Currently, AMO submits topics and manages projects selected through Phase I/II Release 2 FOAs.

  • Phase I projects explore the feasibility of innovative concepts with awards of up to $200,000 (depending on the topic) over nine months.
  • Phase II projects are expanded R&D efforts, with awards of up to $1,100,000 over two years.

Only companies that have received a Phase I grant may respond to Phase II FOAs.

For current and upcoming FOAs and basic information about the SBIR and STTR programs, including eligibility requirements, see the DOE SBIR web site. Visit the EERE SBIR web site for more detailed information on how to develop and submit an application.

AMO’s SBIR-STTR Projects

FY19 SBIR/STTR projects are listed below by topic area. Expand each topic heading to see a list of projects, including project descriptions and AMO contact information. [Last updated August 2019.]

TOPIC: Atomically Precise Catalysts

STTR Phase II

Biologically Inspired Ammonia Production with Immobilized Nitrogenase

Fulcrum BioScience

UT, West Jordan

8/27/18

8/26/20

Fulcrum BioScience and the University of Utah are developing a bio-electrochemical process that converts air into ammonia using an advanced nitrogenase enzyme. The technology will generate ammonia from air at room temperature and pressure using alternative energy and enabling low-cost, small-scale distributed production. If successful, this process could be an alternative to the current capital and energy intensive Haber-Bosch ammonia production process.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

TOPIC: Advanced/Atomically Precise Membranes

SBIR Phase I

Atomically Precise Membranes for the Separation of Gases

Mainstream Engineering Corporation

FL, Rockledge

7/1/19

3/31/20

Separations often account for a majority of process costs in the chemicals industry. New membranes are needed to improve the energy efficiency. Researchers propose to develop atomically precise, triangular and square pore-containing macromolecules using a unique, stiff, programmable molecular scaffold. The technology has already been demonstrated for the separation of liquid mixtures and will be adapted and optimized to synthesize membranes for separation of gases.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase I

Atomically Precise Membranes for Advanced Gas Separations

TDA Research

CO, Wheat Ridge

7/1/19

3/31/20

The U.S. has vast reserves of natural gas which has been made accessible by the recent implementation of hydraulic fracturing technology. The recovered gas needs to be further purified before it is introduced into the pipelines to be used domestically or to be liquefied for export. A particular need remains in the separation of CH4 and N2 to reduce the high costs involved in the cryogenic distillation based N2 rejection systems. In this project, TDA will create a new inexpensive separation technology which can purify natural gas in a single step with very low energy use.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase IIA

Oxygen Separation with Dual Phase Nano-Composite Membranes

Global Research & Development, Inc.

OH, Columbus

8/27/18

8/26/20

During previous awards, nano ceramic membranes on ceramic supports were developed that were smooth and defect-free and able to selectively separate O2 from air at temperatures of 300°C – 500°C. Additional improvements were made to the Gadolinium-doped cerium oxide and platinum nanoparticle membrane layer as well as the tubular supports for the membranes. Global Research & Development is now building a full oxygen module and will perform long term testing on the modules and will also work on designs to scale the membrane process for two market areas:  1-10 ton/day capacity and 100-500 ton/day capacity.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

STTR Phase II

Atomically Precise Membranes for the Separation of Hydrocarbons

Mainstream Engineering Corp

FL, Rockledge

5/21/18

5/20/20

Atomically precise, triangular and square pore-containing macromolecules using a unique, stiff, programmable molecular scaffold will be developed that will synthesize porous triangular and square macromolecules. The pore containing macromolecules will be incorporated into atomically precise membranes with extremely high flux and selectivity.  In Phase I, sheets of atomically precise cross-linked macromolecules will be synthesized and characterized. In Phase II, the macromolecular sheets will be transitioned to a robust, scalable membrane capable of selective separations.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase II

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

Covalent, LLC

NV, Las Vegas

5/21/18

5/20/20

An atomically-precise single atomic layer nanomembrane is inherently delicate and cannot be subjected to the extreme pressures found in Reverse Osmosis Membranes (0.5nm thick vs 12,000nm). To address desalination, a Forward osmosis draw solution is proposed that consists of an environmentally sensitive polymer that will take up water and carry it to a location away from the membrane where energy can be added to change the polymer conformation and allow it to release its bound water. The hydrophilic polymer will then be recycled back to the nanomembrane to repeat the cycle. Covalent will build upon the phase I proof of concept to perform functionality and stability testing on these polymers to determine which are most likely to scale-up.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase II

Novel Low Cost Two-Dimensional Atomically Precise Covalent Organic Membranes

NCO Technologies LLC

NC, Concord

5/21/18

5/20/20

In this research, 2D atomically precise membranes with tailored carbon capture functionality are being developed based on pore engineering. The membranes represent a highly promising class of materials with exceptional chemical/thermal stability and tunable porosity that can provide a much-needed solution to the carbon capture problem. Gas separation test shows the fabricated membranes have promising selectivity when the flux is high. During Phase II, the gas separation performance will be further improved by optimizing the pore size (including longer side chains and photo-responsive moieties) and thickness.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase II

Fabrication of high-quality zeolite membranes with a novel plate & frame configuration for molecular-scale mixture separations

nGimat, LLC

KY, Lexington

5/21/18

5/20/20

Energy-efficient membrane separation technologies are considered a highly cost-competitive alternative to PSA process for bioethanol concentration & purification. In Phase I, nGimat made great progress in generating high-separation-performance NaA zeolite membranes on cheap porous supports. Phase II will be concentrated on further optimization and scale-up production of the best-performing NaA zeolite membranes to meet the demand of energy efficiency.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase II

Processing Mixed Salts for CO2 Utilization

Luna Innovations Incorporated

VA, Roanoke

8/27/18

8/26/20

 

Luna Innovations proposes a dual phase separation membrane for the generation of sodium carbonate, magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate from bittern in salt waste. The proposed HCl extraction technology is a part of a core cluster of gas separation and conversion technologies that Luna is developing that use the capabilities of molten electrolytes to selectively absorb and transport specific gases at high rates, which allow for the separation membranes to exceed the performance limitations of conventional membranes by combining both high permeability and high selectivity. This innovation would allow for stockpiled salt systems to be processed into more valuable and useful chemicals for sale.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

TOPIC: Advanced Materials/Advanced Materials Manufacturing

SBIR Phase I

Process Control to Develop a Continuous Flow Al Covetic Reactor Design

GDC Industries, LLC

OH, Beavercreek

7/1/19

3/31/20

Covetics offer significant increases in energy efficiency as electrical conductors. The ability to incorporate them into metals allows the United States to unlock their potential. A continuous flow reactor has advantages over the traditional batch process to provide consistently high-quality material. Aluminum covetic will create the next generation of electrical conductors that will offer the country a 50% improvement in energy efficiency of our electrical energy transmission and distribution network.

 

AMO POC: Steve Sikirica

SBIR Phase I

Fabrication and Validation of Electrical Components Produced From Covetic Materials

NAECO, LLC

GA, Peachtree City

7/1/19

3/31/20

Covetic copper is a novel copper/carbon nanocomposite that has demonstrated increased electrical and thermal conductivities compared to pure copper in laboratory samples but the material has never been tested in real world applications. NAECO will fabricate electrical contact assemblies from covetic copper and test them in electromechanical switch configurations to determine if covetic materials are suitable for real world applications.

 

AMO POC: Steve Sikirica

SBIR Phase II

Electro-dewatering of Cellulosic Nanomaterials

Faraday Technology, Inc.

OH, Englewood

8/19/19

8/18/21

Faraday Technology, Inc. is developing an economical manufacturing method and apparatus for

electrochemical dewatering (not drying) of cellulosic nanomaterials including cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs). During Phase II the reactor design and electro-dewatering process will be optimized to increase the solid content from 20 wt.% to 30 wt.% while lowering energy requirements and maintaining nanocellulose structural integrity. At the end of Phase II, an alpha-scale reactor will be designed, built and tested by processing large volumes of nanocellulose; a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and a preliminary design of Beta-scale electrodewatering system for installation at a commercial partner will also be completed.

 

AMO POC: Steve Sikirica

SBIR Phase II

Dielectrophoretic Enhancement of Dewatering

Physical Optics Corporation

CA, Torrance

8/19/19

8/18/21

The transition of cellulosic nanomaterials to pilot scale production makes them feasible for use in a variety of industrial applications. A significant hindrance for further advancement is the difficulty of drying these materials without aggregation. The technological equipment integrates the electrospray in vacuum and freeze drying that allows the drying of nanocellulose without compromising the nanoscaling. Atomization of the nanomaterial pulp mitigates the agglomeration of nanocellulose particles and dramatically increases the evaporation of generated droplets that result in the freezing and sublimation of the water. Phase II will be invested in the full design and fabrication of a small batch scale unit, developing the final control electronics with all operational features and internal diagnostic capabilities, and a demonstration of the final test unit for extended operation and scientific validation.

 

AMO POC: Steve Sikirica

SBIR Phase II

Novel Probes for Tip-Based Atomically Precise Manufacturing

Tiptek LLC

PA, West Chester

5/28/19

5/27/21

Atomically precise manufacturing (APM) is an emerging manufacturing technology in which materials, structures, devices, and finished goods are fabricated such that every atom is positioned at an exactly-specified location relative to the other atoms. However, one factor limiting this technology is the short lifetime of the probe that manipulates individual atoms. The key goal of this program is to develop commercial probes with extended lifetimes for tip-based atomically-precise manufacturing. The current project will leverage the atomically precise hydrogen resist lithography method developed by Lyding as an enabling technology for APM.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

STTR Phase II

High-Speed Platform for Highly parallel STM lithography and hierarchical Assembly

Zyvex Labs

TX, Richardson

5/28/19

5/27/21

Atomically Precise Manufacturing (APM) technology fabricates materials, structures, and devices such that every atom is positioned at an exactly specified location relative to the other atoms and the finished goods have no defects or imperfections. This project targets a key component of an APM system: a high-speed sub-nm-precision manufacturing platform for atomic precision patterning and hierarchical assembly using arrays of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) actuators. The overall objective of this project is to devise a platform for Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM)-based high-speed and high-throughput imaging and lithography.

 

AMO POC: Tina Kaarsberg

SBIR Phase II

Surface Modification of Cellulose Nanomaterial for Use in Hydrophobic Matrix Materials

TDA Research, Inc.

CO, Wheat Ridge

8/27/18

8/26/20

Cellulose nanofibrils represent a natural, sustainable source of nanofibers that can be used in matrix materials as reinforcing additives. TDA Research proposes to develop a novel, fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite for the automotive industry that is recyclable and uses a natural, renewable source of fibers and will be competitive with the price of current, non-recyclable composite materials.

 

AMO POC: Steve Sikirica

SBIR

Phase  IIB

Flash Processed Steel for Automotive Applications

SFP Works, LLC

MI, Washington

8/27/18

8/26/20

SFP Works has developed a novel heat treating process to create low-cost, very high-strength steel known as Flash® Processing or Flash® Bainite that uses a thermal cycle of less than 10 seconds to create a ductile and weldable steel well suited or the automotive industry. SFP Works will collaborate with a major automobile manufacturer to redesign and ‘lighten’ an add‐on assembly using Flash® Bainite, and then build and test it against production qualification standards.

 

AMO POC: Steve Sikirica

SBIR   Phase II

Rugged, Long-Life Flow Monitoring for Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Ozark Integrated Circuits

AR, Fayetteville

8/27/18

8/26/20

Establishing a subsurface well requires monitoring electronics that can produce temperature, pressure and flow profiles at depths of up to 10,000+ feet at temperatures as high as 450°C. In Phase II of this project, OzarkIC will develop a robust, flow, temperature, and pressure system that can withstand these conditions but is also designed to be networkable through the use of SiC electronic “smart nodes.” (This project is managed jointly with Geothermal Technologies Office)

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

TOPIC: Intelligent Systems/Materials Discovery

STTR Phase II

Robust Molecular Predictive Methods for Novel Polymer Discovery and Applications

Sheeta Global Tech Corp.

CA, Covina

8/27/18

8/26/20

“Smart” polymer-based enhanced oil recovery technology can increase our oil productivity from vast amounts of domestic reservoirs previously considered unrecoverable, which account for more than 2/3 of our oil reserves. The robust computation-assisted combinatorial molecular design tools proposed in this project can facilitate and speed up the discovery and rationalization processes of the specialty polymer designs.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

SBIR Phase II

Demonstration of Combinatorial Additive Manufacturing Approach for the Design of Alloys

RadiaBeam Systems, Inc.

CA, Santa Monica

8/27/18

8/26/20

This project will develop metal Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D printing) technology to study, discover, and process new alloys exhibiting a superior combination of mechanical strength, corrosion resistances, and better strength-to-weight ratios ideal for use in demanding structural, electrical, magnetic, high-temperature, wear-resistant, corrosion-resistant application throughout industry.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

SBIR Phase II

Combinatorial Discovery of Heterogeneous Catalysts Utilizing Emission Spectroscopy and Advanced Machine Learning

Accustrata, Inc.

MD, Rockville

8/19/19

8/18/21

Researchers propose to create a high-throughput flame spray pyrolysis (FSP) system for the rapid, combinatorial discovery and optimization of heterogeneous catalysts.  The proposed system will comprise three key features: (1) Optimization and operation of the high-throughput FSP system capable of creating Pd-CeO2-MnOx solid solution catalysts; (2) Integration of an in-situ laser induced breakdown spectroscopy system capable of monitoring the particle synthesis in real time; and (3) Development of an advanced machine learning algorithm that will utilize process parameters, in-situ laser induced breakdown spectroscopy measurements, and post-synthesis characterization data to help narrow material search space and speed up materials discovery.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

STTR Phase II

Development of Intelligent Systems for Atomically Precise Membranes, Macromolecular Catalysts and Therapeutics

Thirdlaw, LLC

PA, Merion Station

8/19/19

8/18/21

Researchers will develop software to design atomically precise macromolecular membranes, catalysts, and pharmaceutical compounds based on “Molecular Lego” synthesis technology, together with the synthetic approach to create the molecules. “Molecular Lego” is a unique and patented synthetic approach to constructing macromolecules with designed three-dimensional structures and functional group display. It consists of unique cyclic, chiral molecular building blocks that are connected to each other through pairs of amide bonds to construct ladder molecules with programmable shapes.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

TOPIC: Critical Materials/Geothermal Systems

STTR Phase I

The Energy and Cost-efficient E-waste recovery project for rare-earths and precious metals

Quantum Ventura, Inc

CA, San Jose

7/1/19

3/31/20

Recovering more metal from waste electronics provides an opportunity to convert an exported and wasteful resource into a valuable domestic commodity. Once fully commercialized, E-RECOV’s metal

recycling method will reclaim more high value materials, reduce reagent use and lessen the toxicity of

remaining materials compared with current practices for salvage of metals from waste electronics. In the lab model, E-RECOV is proven to be 30% cheaper than conventional recovery technologies.

 

AMO POC: Bob Gemmer

STTR Phase I

Novel Membrane System for Lithium Recovery from Oilfield Brines

Bettergy

NY, Peekskill

7/1/19

3/31/20

Enriching lithium from oilfield brines while performing desalination of the produced water can provide a solution that recovers valuable lithium from highly mineralized brine while at the same time making possible to reuse and recycle the treated waste water. The proposed technology is based on  a novel membrane with uniform pore structure and high ionic selectivity with high flux, excellent fouling resistance, freedom from pore blockage, lower energy consumption, and excellent reliability for various source brines.

 

AMO POC: Bob Gemmer

SBIR Phase I

Nanoporous Atomically Thin Membranes for Desalination and Rare Earth Materials Recovery

Technology Holding LLC

UT, Salt Lake City

7/1/19

3/31/20

Rare earth elements (REEs) play an indispensable and critical role in new industries including renewable energy, electric vehicle and superconductors. This project aims to develop transformative nanoporous atomically thin membranes (NATMs) that enable energy-efficient, chemical-resistant, versatile, and cost-effective liquid filtration that is critical rare earth materials recovery and in the long term for water desalination. Upon successful commercialization, the proposed innovation will enable higher energy efficiency, domestic recovery of critical materials and reduced dependence on China, a country producing more than 95% of the total world supply of these elements.

 

AMO POC: Bob Gemmer

TOPIC: Wide Bandgap

SBIR Phase IIB

Low-cost, low-defect, 2" GaN epi-ready substrates processed with E-Grinding

SixPoint Materials, Inc.

CA, Buellton

8/27/18

8/26/20

This project addresses an issue of inefficiency and high-cost in the process for making damage-free, atomically-flat gallium nitride wafers. A novel, ultra-fine grinding process called E-Grinding, was demonstrated – on 10mm by 10mm wafers – during Phase I which creates a smoother surface with reduced damage using less processing time than the conventional polishing process. In Phase II, the wafer size will be expanded to 2 inches (>50 mm) and E-Grinding will be incorporated to achieve a more than 30% reduction in wafering time.

 

AMO POC: Allen Hefner

TOPIC: Manufacturing Cybersecurity

SBIR Phase I

Enhanced Cybersecurity for Smart Manufacturing

Secmation, LLC

NC, Raleigh

7/1/19

3/31/20

A prototype security solution will be developed to enhance the cybersecurity of manufacturing equipment. The solution will incorporate a hardened security device that can be attached to legacy equipment; will be cost effective and easy to configure using a new, intuitive management Interface; and will support both traditional wired and new wireless technologies. The prototype solution will be integrated and tested with representative manufacturing equipment.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

SBIR Phase I

Anomalous Process Awareness and Detection (APAD) -  software that will provide cyber security situational awareness for small and medium sized manufacturers

Wingbrace, LLC

MA, Hingham

7/1/19

3/31/20

There are over 250,000 small regional manufacturers in the U.S. A majority of these companies do not have cyber/information security professionals on their staff. Wingbrace proposes to develop the Anomalous Process Awareness Detection (APAD) service – a cloud based cyber awareness application that, once configured, will provide base state analysis of the data traffic of the tenant enterprise. APAD will deliver lower-cost, improved safety and situational awareness that will be ‘cloud ready’ and use next generation machine learning technology.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

TOPIC: Thermal Process Intensification

SBIR Phase II

Integrated Membrane Reactor for Enhancing Thermal & Chemical Reactors

Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.

DE, Newport

7/2/18

4/2/19

Oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH), an exothermic process, is a possible low cost process to convert ethane from shale gas fracking to ethylene. A major limitation of ODH is the cost of concentrating the 25% ethylene from ODH to 99.9% ethylene for chemical processing. Compact Membrane Systems (CMS) developed custom amorphous fluoropolymers (CAF) membranes which show excellent ethylene-ethane flux, selectivity, and stability. During Phase I, CMS demonstrated process feasibility using the CAF membranes. In Phase II, CMS will work with partners to integrate ODH catalyst and the CMS membranes to further develop the process.

 

AMO POC: Joe Cresko

TOPIC: Hydrocarbon Technologies

SBIR Phase IIB

Portable Analytical Instrumentation for Instantaneous Real-Time Measurement of Chemical Elements in Raw Petroleum and Refinery Products

Applied Spectra, Inc.

CA, Fremont

7/31/17

7/30/19

Applied Spectra developed an alpha-prototype LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy)

instrument for rapid, real-time chemical analysis without ashing, dissolving, diluting or desolvating the samples, directly in nitrogen flow. During Phase II, a LIBS prototype demonstrated rapid measurements of the major, minor and trace elements in various petroleum materials. During Phase IIB, the company will develop a ruggedized next-level multi-purpose LIBS prototype for refineries as a fully characterized and certified cost-effective analyzer tested at the real refinery facilities. The main goal for the entire project is further development and commercialization of the compact LIBS instrument capable of instantly analyzing both solid and liquid samples of any viscosity.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine

SBIR Phase IIA

Advanced Catalysts Development for Oil Refinery

Advanced Energy Materials, LLC

KY, Louisville

8/19/19

8/18/21

This SBIR Phase IIA project will continue to advance the hydro-desulfurization catalysts for reducing the severity of hydrogen use in ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) production and activity with sulfur tolerant hydrogen and other process intensification applications. With successful Phase IIA, the proposed catalyst products will find commercial applications in small refineries, refineries with no hydrogen infrastructure, reformers for hydrogen in fertilizer plants, refineries and fuel cell power plants.

 

AMO POC: Brian Valentine