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ORNL partners with nine small businesses to advance clean energy tech

Topic: Clean Energy

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 10, 2016—Experts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will help nine small companies move their innovative manufacturing, buildings, fuel cell, geothermal and vehicle technologies closer to the marketplace.

The businesses are among 33 selected to participate in the first round of DOE’s new Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will invest nearly $6.7 million in the 33 projects.

“The Department of Energy is firmly committed to maximizing the impact of the national lab system on the clean energy economy,” said Dr. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The Small Business Vouchers pilot allows innovative entrepreneurs greater access to the world-class resources and brilliant minds in our labs. These partnerships can help small businesses solve their most pressing technical challenges - and help bring clean energy technologies to commercialization much faster.”

SBV is a collaborative, national effort that will provide $20 million through two rounds of funding for U.S. companies to help improve industry awareness of national laboratory capabilities and provide small- and mid-size businesses access to the resources available within the national laboratory system. Vouchers range from $50,000-300,000. The companies were competitively chosen from a pool of hundreds of applications.

DOE also announced today it will start accepting applications for Round 2 of the SBV pilot. A total of $12 million worth of funding remains; over the course of the year, up to 100 vouchers will be awarded.

ORNL will collaborate on the following projects.

Glucan Biorenewables, located in Madison, Wisc., will work with ORNL to advance the development of a process targeted towards production of a bio-derived, nontoxic lignin for energy storage applications.

Grid Logic, Inc., located in Auburn Hills, Mich., will work with ORNL to develop a printing process using micro-induction sintering/melting, which will contribute to new lower-cost manufacturing materials and processes.  

GVD Corporation, located in Cambridge, Mass., will work with ORNL to measure and optimize hydrogen permeability of barrier coatings to dramatically reduce gas permeation for applications in hydrogen compression, storage, and delivery infrastructure. 

Be Power Tech, Inc., located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will work with ORNL to evaluate a natural gas powered HVAC system that produces 5 kilowatts of continuous electrical power for commercial and residential buildings. 

KCF Technologies, Inc., located in State College, Pa., will work with ORNL to demonstrate its wireless sensor for measuring pump efficiency.  

Treadstone Technologies Inc., located in Princeton, N.J., will work with ORNL to provide surface chemistry characterization and microstructure analysis of coatings on stainless steel substrates for long-term durability in fuel cell operations. 

Geothermal Design Center, Inc., located in Asheville, N.C., will work with ORNL to evaluate the performance of a new approach in ground thermal conductivity testing for an advanced ground source heat pump system.  

Cool-X, LLC, located in Amherst, Mass., will work with ORNL to understand the potential of nano-lubricants, in particular nano-diamond additives, to improve the performance of high mileage vehicles by modifying the surface finishes of wear components in engines, gearboxes, and differentials. 

United Silicon Carbide, Inc., located in Monmouth Junction, N.J., will work with ORNL to develop loss models to demonstrate system level efficiencies using USCi’s silicon carbide junction gate field-effect transistor cascodes for validation in meeting or exceeding current efficiency levels in commercially available inverters and reduce manufacturing costs for broad commercial adoption. 

To see a full list of small businesses competitively selected under Round 1, please visit

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. For more, visit the National Laboratory Impact Initiative's homepage. To learn more about the Small Business Vouchers Pilot, including how to apply, visit

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.