The U.S. Department of Energy announced $2.4 million in funding for twelve new Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) marine energy research and development projects.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) selected these small business projects, from nine different states, based on their proposals and ability to impact the future of marine energy.

The twelve selected small businesses will receive Phase I Release 2 grants of up to $200,000 to explore the technical feasibility of innovative solutions in marine energy. These solutions will support decarbonization of the electricity and maritime transportation sectors, and will provide additional tools in combating climate change.

Successful Phase I grantees will be eligible to apply for $1.1M Phase II awards in fiscal year 2022 to further research and develop and commercialize their technology. The duration of Phase II awards is up to two years.

Small businesses play a key 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. Information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs is available on the Office of Science SBIR website. Additional information can be found on the EERE SBIR/STTR website as well.

WPTO will fund the following awards under two topics:

Co-Development of Marine Energy Technology at Smaller Scales (CMETSS)

SBIR

  • Ocean Renewable Power Company (Portland, ME), Power for Subsea Networks: Ocean Renewable Power Company, Inc. will develop marine renewable energy technologies appropriate for powering subsea sensor networks and other systems, providing a power supply for instruments deployed in the ocean and further enabling long-term sensing missions.
  • Aegis Technology Inc. (Santa Ana, CA), Tide-Powered Charging Stations for Off-Grid Applications: Working with several different project partners including the waterfront coastal community of Town Hull, Massachusetts, Aegis Technology will develop a tidal turbine system to supply power to off-grid electric vehicle and electric project charging stations. If successful, this project will be the first tidal energy-powered charging station of its kind in the United States.
  • AQUAHARMONICS Inc. (West Linn, OR), Co-development of a Magnetic Power Take-off Wave Energy Converter for an Instrumentation Buoy: The AQUAHARMONICS team will develop a high-power density, commercially viable, compact, and lightweight wave energy converter (WEC) for powering end-user ocean observing instrumentation. Development of a wave powered instrumentation buoy will allow for high resolution, real-time data streams from remote ocean locations and will improve the United States’ ability to mitigate risks associated with natural disasters, weather forecasting, climate change monitoring, key fishery monitoring, and other applications.
  • Triton Systems, Inc. (Chelmsford, MA), Wave Energy Harvesting to Power LiDAR Buoys: Triton Systems is developing a point-absorber type WEC that can be integrated with existing LiDAR buoy systems. The deployment of renewable energy sources such as wave and wind require complex site surveys, which can be quickly and efficiently completed by LiDAR buoys and their sensors; Triton’s WEC will provide needed power for these buoys to enable less maintenance, longer mission times, and increased reliability.
  • Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (Monroe Township, NJ), Modular and Scalable Small-Scale Mass-on-Spring Wave Energy Converter (MOSWEC) PowerBuoy System for Reliable Powering of Autonomous Ocean Monitoring Systems: Ocean Power Technologies will develop a modular and scalable smallscale MassonSpring Wave Energy Converter (MOSWEC) PowerBuoy system for reliable powering of autonomous ocean monitoring systems. The MOSWEC device will be able to be modularized and scaled up or down in size to support a broad range of power needs.
  • Oscilla Power, Inc. (Seattle, WA), Wave-Powered Radar-Based Ocean Sensing Systems: Oscilla Power will work with its partners to develop an ocean wave powered platform for oceanographic, radar-based sensors. The platform will be optimized for performance and efficiency across a full range of ocean conditions, with particular attention to moderate wave energy climates.

STTR

  • Excipio Energy, Inc. (Houston, TX), Gulf of Mexico Energy Infrastructure Re-use and Blue Development: The Gulf of Mexico has hundreds of platforms being annually shut down and removed as required by law for “idle iron”, which provide significant ecosystem services and can be used for marine energy and other marine-related applications. In Phase I, this project will leverage these structures as part of an effort to deploy marine energy technologies to provide power for seawater desalination, hydraulic pumping, and energy storage.

Low-Cost, User-Friendly Monitoring Tools for Marine Energy Sites

SBIR

  • SubSeaSail LLC, (San Diego, CA), Advanced SeaGoing and Underwater Research Vessel: SubSeaSail (SSS) will design a submerging vessel and identify integrated sensors to measure and monitor at levels down to 30 meters. The company will design how to “harden” the vessel, find and integrate small, high-capability sensors with low current draw, and have appropriate depth ratings that can be utilized on vessels above and below water.
  • MarineSitu, Inc. (Seattle, WA), A Low-Cost Stereo-Optical Monitoring System for Marine Energy Converters: MarineSitu will develop and demonstrate a modular stereo-optical camera system tailored for long-term monitoring at marine energy sites. The company will perform a hardware redesign to modularize the system components, while also fabricating a first commercial prototype to demonstrate the monitoring capabilities in the presence of an operating turbine at the University of Washington.
  • Emrgy Inc. (Atlanta, GA), Low-Cost Cloud Based Resource Characterization Tools For Performance Monitoring and Optimization: Emrgy is developing a low-cost technology to monitor debris and water flow for improved performance of hydrokinetic devices. During Phase I of the project, the company will focus on evaluation of hydrokinetic monitoring and hazard identification needs, testing to determine optimal sensor types and position, integration of controls functions, and validation of system design.
  • Integral Consulting Inc. (Seattle, WA), Rapidly Deployable Hardware Software Network for WEC Site Characterization and Monitoring: Integral Consulting Inc. will develop a low-cost, user-friendly, rapidly deployable hardware and software network for wave energy site characterization, wave climate impact monitoring, and environmental monitoring. Phase I efforts will demonstrate proof of concept for the hardware, while also designing the software as a wave energy resource assessment online toolkit for a non-expert audience to interpret wave climate maps, including wave energy and environmental monitoring data.
  • Hydronalix (Green Valley, AZ), Sea Remote Controlled Hydrographic Explorer and Recorder: Current methods such as ship-based tools for mapping the seabed around marine energy installations are time consuming and expensive. To address this, Hydronalix will collaborate with its project partners to develop a nimble, remote-controlled robotic vehicle to map seafloor habitats to assess the effects of marine energy installations.