The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invests billions of dollars every year in its National Laboratories, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in materials, computing, chemistry, physics, biology and beyond. In order to maximize the impact of this groundbreaking research, it’s necessary to establish links from the lab to the market – engendering an entrepreneurial mindset and delivering even more on every taxpayer dollar invested.
Energy I-Corps pairs teams of researchers with industry mentors for an intensive two-month training, in which the researchers define technology value propositions, conduct customer discovery interviews, and develop viable market pathways for their technologies. Researchers return to the lab with a framework for industry engagement to guide future research and inform a culture of market awareness within the labs. In this way, Energy I-Corps is ensuring our investment in the National Labs is maintaining and strengthening U.S. competitiveness long-term.
This November marked the completion of the landmark tenth cohort in this pioneering entrepreneurship program. Ten teams from six different National Labs came together to enhance the tech-to-market pathways for their innovative technologies in battery storage, carbon capture, nuclear power, and more.
Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar joined the cohort’s graduation ceremony to offer remarks, and Chief Commercialization Officer and OTT Director Conner Prochaska stood alongside program staff to congratulate participants.
First started in 2015, the Energy I-Corps program is managed by OTT in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Designed with entrepreneurship in mind, the program combines the ingenuity and capabilities of the department’s labs and researchers with the skills to guide new technologies toward the market.
This year’s cohort comprised 10 teams from six different National Laboratories:
Argonne National Laboratory – Lemont, Illinois
Idaho National Laboratory – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – Livermore, California
National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Golden, Colorado
Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Sandia National Laboratories – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Seven different DOE programs funded cohort 10 projects, including:
Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO)
Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Office of Technology Transitions (OTT)
Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO)
With this cohort, NNSA and OTT funded their first-ever teams, focusing on clever alloys, digital X-rays, and ultrasonic drying technologies.
The complete list of cohort 10 projects, sorted by office and lab, can be found below:
Argonne National Laboratory: Channel-Cut High-Resolution Polisher, an important technology for creating advanced components for scientific use, including synchrotrons, as well as potentially medical devices.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Capacitive deionization (CDI), a Livermore-developed technology that decreases cost and greatly improves upon current technologies in treating wastewater in manufacturing and other applications.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Plastic Recycling and Repurposing through biological processing.
Sandia National Laboratories: Periphytic algae cultivation for biomass/bioenergy production and improving the health of compromised surface waters.
Sandia National Laboratories: CO2 Memzyme, a highly efficient carbon capture technology.
Idaho National Laboratory: Nuclear reactor monitoring and safety, including Industrial process control and wireless sensing telemetry.
Sandia National Laboratories: Extremely wear resistant, electrodeposited, nanocrystalline alloys built for high capacity and sensitive electrical equipment.
Sandia National Laboratories: Ultra-fast X-Ray imager focal plane arrays, the world’s fastest multi-frame digital X-ray. Fifty times faster than state of the art, the technology could enable new capabilities in research universities, labs, laser facilities, and more.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Ultrasonic drying technology to dry materials using high frequency vibrations instead of heat to achieve much greater energy efficiency.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Headcount technology to detect and count occupants in driverless autonomous vehicles.