Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Energy Department Awards 43 new Business-Laboratory Collaborations under Small Business Vouchers Pilot

August 18, 2016

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Today, the Energy Department announced 43 small businesses will participate in the second round of the Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. With vouchers in hand, these businesses can better leverage the world-class capabilities of the department's national laboratories and bring their next-generation clean energy technologies to the marketplace faster.

"We need to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation to build stronger economy and a brighter, cleaner future for our nation" said David Friedman, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). "The Small Business Vouchers pilot breaks down barriers for some of our greatest entrepreneurial minds, allowing them to work with our national laboratories across sectors and industries to accelerate a clean energy revolution that's been underway since 2008."

The Department opened the first round of SBV, a Technology-to-Market Lab Impact pilot, in fall 2015. In SBV's first round, 33 small businesses were selected to receive vouchers totaling $6.7 million. Today's 43 awards total more than $8 million. To date, the Department's SBV pilot has connected 76 small businesses with the labs, totaling $15 million worth of vouchers.

A full list of the SBV projects may be viewed on

The small businesses selected today will have the ability to work with 12 different national laboratories, now including Savannah River National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

This is in addition the other core national laboratories already facilitating the pilot: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as well as Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who are currently partnering with small businesses on projects.

With 23 million small businesses currently operating in the U.S., the pilot is heavily targeted in attracting companies that typically would not have access to the department's national labs' scientific expertise and resources. The SBV pilot makes it possible to direct the power of the national laboratories toward specific problems identified by small businesses by pairing these companies with a national laboratory uniquely qualified to solve their challenges.

SBV is a collaborative, national effort that provides $20 million for U.S. companies to help improve industry awareness of national laboratory capabilities and provide small and mid-size businesses access to the resources available within the national laboratory system. Following open calls for "Requests for Assistance" (RFAs), businesses are competitively selected to work with a national lab to address their needs, and provided vouchers, worth up to $300,000 at the lab.

These collaborations focus on the following areas:

Advanced Manufacturing: Eight projects will focus on improvements in manufacturing, including developing cheaper, more energy-efficient manufacturing methods for recycling and recovery of high value materials and for creating materials like high performance carbon, ceramics, and quantum dots used in producing turbine blades, batteries, circuit boards, and hydrogen fuel cells. 

Bioenergy: Five collaborations in the bioenergy area will focus on cleaner methods of producing biochemicals, including developing biodegradable substitutes for conventional, oil-based plastics, as well as developing more energy efficient and carbon-conserving methods of producing biofuels.

Buildings: Three projects in the buildings area will focus on modeling and validating new products designed to improve building efficiency.

Fuel Cells: Ten projects in the fuel cells area are aimed at reducing the costs and improving the performance of fuel cells, such as finding ways to lower costs of Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEAs), a critical component of a fuel cell stack. Some of these collaborations will explore using lower cost materials, reducing the quantity of pricey raw material required, and developing better and more precise methods in manufacturing MEAs.

Geothermal: Four collaborations in the geothermal area will include exploring a recently discovered geothermal resource in Nevada, ensuring that new geothermal extraction and storage solutions are ready for the market, and developing lower-cost methods for extracting rare earth elements critical to clean energy technologies.

Solar: Solar area projects will focus on improve solar energy storage solutions and reducing the costs and time associated with analyzing and testing solar arrays.

Vehicles: Six projects in the vehicles area will work to improve vehicle fuel efficiency, including by exploring new ways to create and improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries and by using high performance computing to test and develop new solutions faster.

Water: Four collaborations in the water area will focus on developing and improving tools used to collect energy from waves, and testing ways to allow fish to safely pass through hydropower systems, leading to wider adoption of water power.   

Wind: Two projects in the wind area will develop methods for integrating wind power into existing power grids, in addition to developing new methods of diagnosing damage to turbines.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. SBV is part of EERE's Technology-to-Market program. To learn more about the pilot, including eligibility and how to apply, visit