Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded almost $2.25 million to ten separate small businesses. All these companies are in the process of developing environmental technology. This was the second time these specific companies were chosen to receive funding from the EPA through the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.
The SBIR program was established by the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. The goal of the program is to promote research and development by domestic small businesses who have an idea or product that could ultimately be commercialized. Small businesses have been credited for creating between 60% to 80% of new job growth in the last decade, and this program enables them to continue developing their products. The EPA is one of eleven federal agencies who participate in the program. Other agencies are the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Transportation, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. All participating agencies are required to set aside 2.5% of their annual extramural research and development budgets, provided that those budgets exceed $100 million, for the program. Awards given to small businesses (which must be US owned and based, and must employ fewer than 500 people) are broken down into two phases.
The awards given by the EPA yesterday were all Phase II awards, meaning that all ten chosen firms had previously received Phase I funding from the EPA. According to the EPA, to receive Phase I funding, companies must be able to display “the scientific merit and technical feasibility of the proposed concept.” Companies can receive up to $80,000 for 6 months if the EPA deems the concept worthy. After the technology has been successfully developed using Phase I funds, companies are eligible to compete for Phase II funding. The goal of Phase II funding is for businesses to complete the development of the technology and to commercialize it. Recipients are awarded up to $300,000 for two years.
Companies awarded funds today have created technologies in the areas of air pollution, emission reductions and biofuels, green building, greenhouse gases, homeland security, nanotechnology, and waste, with the winners haling from California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Oregon.
Aspen Products Group, Inc., Massachusetts, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Developed a low cost filtration system for use in restaurants and other commercial cooking establishments. This filter is designed to trap and oxidize harmful particulate matter and VOCs in order to reduce harmful emissions that are released by their clients.
Eltron Research Inc, Colorado, Phase II award: $224,998:
- Created a catalyst technology to remove dangerous nitrogen oxides from off-road diesel exhaust sources. It will be able to decrease the amount of nitrogen oxides released by diesel engines, natural gas-fired broilers and turbines, and coal-fired combustion sources.
Lao K, LLC, Oregon, Phase II award: $224,000:
- Lao K, LLC has invented a soy-based, formaldehyde-free adhesive for wood. Currently, most plywood adhesives contain and emit formaldehyde which is carcinogenic. This new adhesive, which is ready to be commercialized, is comprised of completely natural ingredients and can compete on price with current adhesives.
Mobius Technologies, Inc, California, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Invented a process which uses scrap polyurethane foam (either thrown out by manufacturers or end-consumers) to create a resin for making green building materials. This process reduces waste of polyurethane foam and keeps excess out of landfills. It also creates a cost savings for green building materials manufacturers as they do not need to source new chemicals to make their products.
Technova Corporation, Michigan, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Discovered that by exchanging 20% of the cement needed to make concrete with milled mixed-color waste glass, green builders could cut costs and improve the durability of their concrete. Using this method the glass, which is ground extremely finely, would avoid landfills and cut down on the energy needed to produce cement.
Membrane Technology and Research Inc., California, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Membrane Technology and Research Inc. is developing a membrane that will reduce methane emissions released by establishments such as landfill gas plants by converting it into fuel. Methane is the second most released greenhouse gas.
Smart Polymers Research Corporation, Florida, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Completing development of a real-time environmental water quality sensor. The sensor will be able to identify minute concentrations of various pathogens and toxins in water sources.
Defiant Technologies, Inc, New Mexico, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Defiant Technologies has also developed a portable system use to measure water quality. Its technology will help to ensure safer drinking water by detecting both perchloroethylene and trichloroethelene in ground water.
Instrumental Polymer Technologies, LLC, California, Phase II award: $225,000:
- Polyurethane coating is used extensively in construction to protect wood, plastic, glass, and fabric surfaces. However, it is very harmful to the environment. Up to this point, any more environmentally friendly alternatives have proven to be too expensive to compete with polyurethane coatings. Instrumental Polymer Technologies has utilized nanotechnology and created a process called “evolution polymerization” to create an alternative to polyurethane coating that is cost competitive.
Intelligent Optical Systems Inc., California, Phase II award: $224,996:
- Intelligent Optical Systems is developing an optical sensor for monitoring levels of chlorinated hydrocarbons in ground water. These new systems will be smaller, more durable, and affordable, and more efficient than current options available to clients.
Photo credit: kdheks.gov/kdsi/ard_toolkit.html