The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced funding for continuing research and development projects in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, including $8.1 million for seven hydropower and marine energy projects.

The Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), selected these small businesses—from California, Washington, Utah, Massachusetts, and New York—to advance to Phase II of the SBIR/STTR program based on their progress during Phase I and their potential to accelerate marine energy and hydropower technologies. One of these projects—Fastwatt, LLC—was jointly selected and will be co-funded by WPTO and EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

The seven selected small business-led projects will each receive Phase II grants ranging from $1.1-1.5 million to explore the technical feasibility of innovative solutions in hydropower and marine energy. These solutions will support DOE and EERE efforts to decarbonize the electricity and maritime transportation sectors.

The seven projects are:

Natel Energy, Inc., Alameda, CA

Hydropower Decision-Support with Machine Learning and Satellite Driven Forecasts

Upstream Tech, a subsidiary of Natel Energy, Inc. will advance their technology developed in Phase I to deliver accurate and reliable streamflow predictions across short-term and seasonal forecasts by leveraging novel machine learning techniques, a proprietary data platform, and a wide range of dynamic earth data.  To achieve this, they will include additional weather forecast sources using a cloud-based system that is scalable, resilient, and secure.  They plan to quantify the technology’s technical and financial benefits over alternative approaches to develop a marketing strategy to help with commercialization.

Ocean Motion Technologies, Inc., San Diego, CA

Leveraging Co-Development for the Energy Capture Subsystem of a Small-Scale Adaptive Wave Energy Converter

Ocean Motion Technologies will fabricate a cost-effective, adaptive ocean wave energy device that can optimize its power output based on ambient environments for scientific and defense applications. This will enable the development of renewable energy powered systems that operate in the ocean for long periods of time without power constraints.

Oscilla Power, Inc., Seattle, WA

Integrated wave power charging capability for ocean observing vehicles

The Oscilla Power project will integrate an ocean wave powered recharging capability into an autonomous ocean observing vehicle as a way of extending its mission duration. This new approach will allow these vehicles to operate for significantly longer periods of time, potentially indefinitely. This will be a major step towards allowing the US to take the lead in harnessing this clean energy resource, providing enhanced defense/surveillance capabilities.

Visionary Products Inc., Draper, UT

MHK-RoboCatch: Context-Aware Robotic Trash Boom Powered By Marine Hydrokinetics

Visionary Products' project aims to leverage energy from rivers' flow and robotics to monitor and aggregate plastic debris in a waterway, readying it for extraction. Rivers are a major pollution pathway, depositing floating trash into sensitive ecosystems where it remains for decades or longer, and this project will use hydrokinetic energy to alleviate this problem.

3newable LLC, Portola Valley, CA

Preventing Biofouling of Oceanographic Sensors Using UV Illumination Powered by a Compact Wave Energy Converter

3newable aims to capture ocean wave energy to power scientific oceanographic sensors, specifically an anti-biofouling device to keep the instrumentation clear of biological growth. This will provide a complementary source of renewable energy to power ocean systems.

Triton Systems, Inc., Chelmsford, MA

Wave Energy Harvesting to Power Ocean Buoys

Triton Systems is Triton is developing a point-absorber type wave energy converter that will be integrated with ocean buoys. This can double the power budget available to these buoys and enable the collection of data from the ocean.

Fastwatt LLC, Clifton Park, NY

Compact power converter with high waveform quality for direct-drive renewable energy generators

Fastwatt LLC, Clifton Park, NY - will develop a novel integrated power converter-transformer that is 2x smaller and 10x lighter, provides high waveform and power quality desirable for machines such as superconducting generators intended for large offshore renewable energy applications, and is scalable for direct interface to 69-kV AC grid collection systems. The modular and scalable power conditioning system (PCS) will leverage wide bandgap semiconductor materials and power device manufacturing advancements that will reduce the size and weight of the PCS systems thereby lowering the cost to transport, install, and service the clean energy technologies.

Small businesses play a key role in spurring innovation, creating jobs in the U.S. economy, and taking on the effects of climate change in communities across the country. 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/STTR website. Additional information can also be found on the EERE SBIR/STTR website.