As part of a recent $34 million announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, Rick Perry, for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research and development projects, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will fund 87 new projects across 34 states, totaling nearly $13 million in funding, including 4 hydrogen and fuel cell projects.
DOE technology offices award Phase I grants to small businesses that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research. Most Phase I awards are for $150,000 for less than one year. If completed successfully, Phase I projects are eligible for Phase II. Phase II funding awards provide up to $1 million or up to $1.5 million, depending on the technology, and an award known as a sequential Phase II award can provide up to an additional $1 million.
Fuel Cell Technologies Office-funded projects include the following:
- TDA Research Inc., will develop a smart hydrogen tank design that uses active cooling of the hot gas (reduction of 20°C or more) during fast refueling.
- ADA Technologies, Inc., will develop a novel, thermally conductive 700 bar tank for hydrogen storage in fuel cell vehicles. This new tank will enable the lowering of the cost of hydrogen fueling stations by about 15% thanks to the elimination of the pre-cooling equipment.
- Strategic Analysis, Inc., will investigate novel methods to reduce the cost of hydrogen fueling infrastructure by developing in-tank, passive cooling to replace current station pre-cooling equipment. This approach is expected to reduce the cost of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, increase the well-to-wheels efficiency, and lower the life cycle cost of fuel cell electric vehicles.
- Luna Innovations Incorporated will develop wave mixing technology that allows early signs of damage in high-pressure hydrogen storage vessels to be identified by monitoring changes in material properties associated with flaw formation. Luna will develop a non-contact, robust non-destructive evaluation system for scanning the inner walls of steel vessels to ensure structural reliability and safety.
Small businesses play a major role in spurring innovation and creating jobs in the U.S. economy. Congress created the SBIR and STTR programs to leverage small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. DOE developed Technology Transfer Opportunity subtopics as a way for small businesses to partner with national laboratories on research and development needed to speed commercialization of national laboratory inventions.