The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $12 million for 12 hydropower and marine energy projects as part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

These small business-led projects, selected by DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office, will drive innovation in water power technologies and contribute to the Biden administration’s goals of a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.

The 12 projects include:

Topic: Development of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants for Hydropower Applications

Tetramer Technologies, L.L.C., Pendleton, South Carolina

Biodegradable Lubricant from Esterified Propoxylated Glycerol

In this project, the team will commercialize an environmentally acceptable lubricant that is bioderived, biodegradable, non-toxic, non-bioaccumulating, and sustainable for applications in powerhouses, which are the structures that house generators and turbines at a hydropower facility.

Topic: Co-Development of Marine Energy Technology at Smaller Scales

AquaHarmonics Inc., West Linn, Oregon

Co-Development of a Magnetic Power Take-Off Wave Energy Converter for an Instrumentation Buoy

In this project, the team will develop a high-power density, commercially viable, compact, and lightweight wave energy converter for powering end-user ocean observing instrumentation. Their work will involve the design, manufacture, testing, and assembly of the wave energy converter and its components, as well as deployment and testing of an instrumentation buoy in the ocean.

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc., Monroe Township, New Jersey

Modular and Scalable Small-Scale Mass-on-Spring Wave Energy Convertor (MOSWEC) PowerBuoy System for Reliable Powering of Autonomous Ocean Monitoring Systems

This project will involve the design, build, and ocean testing of the MOSWEC power module. The prototype is designed to power an offshore vessel monitoring system with applications in defense and security.

Oscilla Power, Inc., Seattle, Washington

Wave-Powered, Radar-Based Ocean Sensing Systems

In this project, the team will build and test in the ocean the MicroTriton, a small wave energy converter platform. The project will involve completing the detailed design and constructing a MicroTriton system capable of supporting and powering a radar transmitter. The system will be tested off the North Carolina coast for several months.

SAHT Energy, LLC, Eugene, Oregon

Hydrokinetic Energy Harvesting in Constructed Waterways

This project will involve testing and validating a new hydrokinetic turbine for generating power from slow and narrow channels in human-made waterways. Research will include flume testing, numerical studies, and a demonstration project.

Triton Systems, Inc., Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Wave Energy Harvesting to Power LiDAR Buoys

This project will involve the development of a wave energy converter that can power existing LiDAR buoys, which have substantial power requirements and are used to understand site-specific physical and environmental responses to marine and other types of renewable energy development.

Topic: Low-Cost, User-Friendly Monitoring Tools for Marine Hydrokinetic Sites

Hydronalix, Green Valley, Arizona

“SEARCHER”—Sea Remote Controlled Hydrographic Explorer and Recorder

This project will focus on refining and demonstrating remotely controlled, low-power, robotic, and unmanned devices designed to hear, measure, image, recognize, and monitor fish, invertebrates, and other sea life at different water depths using side-scan sonar, a 360-degree camera, a fish identification tracker device, and other technologies. The project team will incorporate additional sensors and capabilities for image acquisition, analysis, and evaluation.

Integral Consulting Inc., Seattle, Washington

Dashboard for Marine Energy Site Assessment and Monitoring

This project will advance a wave energy resource assessment dashboard designed to inform siting, permitting, operations, and maintenance of marine energy projects. Research will focus on assimilating meteorological and oceanographic modeling products and low-cost, rapidly deployable monitoring solutions.

MarineSitu, Inc, Seattle, Washington

Modular Instrumentation and Automated Data Processing for Marine Energy Monitoring

This project involves developing and demonstrating modular optical camera systems, imaging sonar software, an instrument integration hub, and an automated, cloud-based data management system to create lower-cost instrumentation and user-friendly environmental monitoring tools. These tools are based on the University of Washington’s Adaptable Monitoring Package, which has been tailored for long-term monitoring at marine energy sites.

SubSeaSail LLC, San Diego, California

ASGUARD: Advanced Sea Going and Underwater Autonomous Research Device

In this project, the team will continue developing ASGUARD, a fully functional, long-duration vessel with an integrated solar/electrical system and sensors. The sensing capabilities can function up to 30 meters underwater and will include an acoustic system and an electromagnetic field sensor package that can measure electric and magnetic fields created around marine energy installations.

Joint Topic: Compact Power Conditioning Systems for High-Torque, Low-Speed Machines

RCT Systems, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland

Medium-Voltage, Silicon Carbide-Based Power Conditioning System

This project will focus on developing a medium-voltage, silicon carbide-based power conditioning system—which processes electricity before it reaches the grid—capable of converting electricity from megawatt-scale renewable energy technologies, including marine energy and offshore wind, for use on the grid.

Topic: Technology Transfer Opportunity: Electrochemical Recycling Electronic Constituents of Value (E-RECOV)

Quantum Ventura Inc., San Jose, California

The Energy and Cost-Efficient E-Waste Recovery Project for Rare-Earth Elements and Precious Metals

As part of the Technology Transfer Opportunity, Quantum Ventura will continue to demonstrate and scale up the E-RECOV process, a U.S. patented technology developed by Idaho National Laboratory, to reclaim valuable metals from waste electronic equipment. Recovery of rare earth materials will help to lower the cost of recycling components from marine energy, hydropower, and other renewable energy sources.

Learn more about the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s SBIR and STTR program.