DOE: New Pilot Accepting Small Business Requests to Work Closely with Labs

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, accounting for three-quarters of all new jobs in this country. Today, 23 million small businesses in this country represent more than 90% of all employers, account for more than half of all private sector workers, and generate three out of every four new jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Council on Small Business. These small businesses create new products, technologies, and business plans that fuel our nation’s prosperity.

To overcome the technical challenges inherent in bringing innovations to market, the Energy Department launched its Small Business Vouchers Pilot in July to help clean energy small businesses connect with national laboratories.

Starting today, small businesses can now apply to access the Department’s world-class facilities and an enterprise of more than 10,000 leading scientists and engineers at five of our national laboratories – Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – through the pilot.

The main goal is to make national laboratory capabilities more affordable and easily accessible by small businesses. The pilot intends to accomplish this goal by focusing on essential outreach, networking, competition and review, matchmaking and voucher activities, and in general, making the whole process as small business friendly as possible by creating a single entry point ( to the labs.

Critical technology challenges presented by clean energy small businesses will be evaluated in a uniform and fair process. The technology challenges from highly ranked small businesses will be properly matched with proposed solutions and capabilities from the national labs. The Energy Department will then provide vouchers valued between $50,000 and $300,000 to complete the proposed scope of work at the national laboratory.

The vouchers are limited to specific research and development areas. These areas include: advanced manufacturing, bioenergy, buildings, fuel cells, geothermal, solar, water, wind and vehicles technologies. Both joint research and development that can generate new intellectual property, as well as technology assistance projects, are possible collaborative pursuits under the pilot. The solutions and knowledge gained through these public-private partnerships will be transferrable to other small businesses looking to advance clean energy technologies.

Learn more about the National Laboratory Impact Initiative, along with requirements  to submit a Request for Assistance (RFA), by visiting the Small Business Vouchers Pilot website. The first round of RFAs are due October 23 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. The participating labs have set up concierges to assist small businesses with questions on how to work with the labs, and to arrange introductions to the laboratories’ technical experts in clean energy areas. Two additional rounds are anticipated to be announced in February and May/June next year.

Funding: Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Smart Manufacturing: Advanced Sensors, Controls, Platforms, and Modeling for Manufacturing

FOA#: DE-FOA-001263
Concept Paper Submission Deadline: 11/4/2015 5:00 PM ET
Full Application Submission Deadline: 1/29/2016 5:00 PM ET

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to establish DOE’s third Manufacturing Innovation Institute under the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI). The purpose of CEMI is to strengthen U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness and to increase U. S. manufacturing competitiveness across the board by boosting energy productivity and leveraging low-cost domestic energy resources as fuels and feedstocks. Within CEMI, DOE uses Manufacturing Innovation Institutes to develop energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in areas where an industrial consortium for research, development and demonstration has been determined through public engagement, requests for information and analysis to have high potential to address a significant and potentially impactful advanced manufacturing opportunity. The opportunity to be addressed in this FOA is the research, development and demonstration of Smart Manufacturing technology to enable cost effective information and communication technologies for the real-time management and control of energy in manufacturing across the unit-process, facility, enterprise, and supply chain.

Nature Works Everywhere Garden Grants

The Nature Works Everywhere program is currently accepting applications for garden grants during the 2015–16 school year. Grants will be given in the amount of $1,000–$2,000 dependent upon the needs of the project. Funds may be used to support the building, amendment, or revitalization of gardens on school campuses, with preference given to rain, pollinator, native habitat, and other natural infrastructure projects. Food gardens will also be funded.

For all details including timeline, activities, requirements, grant benefits, and eligibility, please refer to the Garden Grant Description document. Commitment letters from the project lead and your school administrator are required. For questions, email Apply online by October 28, 2015.

Climate Change as a Charitable Investment?

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

Mitigating climate change is going to require unlocking new sources of finance to fund the innovative technologies that will take us to a low-emissions future. Program related investments (PRIs), investments that support charitable activities while also offering the potential return of capital, are one vehicle that could help unlock these funds. However, a lack of clarity over whether potential PRIs would be eligible, and the imposition of a heavy penalty tax for getting it wrong, has made would-be investors hesitant and created barriers to their utilization.

To resolve some of the uncertainty surrounding the use of PRIs for climate-related investments, the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic has just published a new report: Clarifying IRS’s View on Climate Change as a Charitable Purpose in order to Mobilize Program-Related Investments for Climate Change Solutions.

DOE Selects Eight Projects to Receive Funding for Reducing the Cost of CO2 Capture and Compression

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected eight projects to receive funding to construct small- and large-scale pilots for reducing the cost of carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and compression through DOE’s Carbon Capture Program.

The Carbon Capture Program is developing technologies that will enable cost-effective implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the power generation sector and ensure that the United States will continue to have access to safe, reliable, and affordable energy from fossil fuels. The program consists of two core research technology areas, post-combustion capture and pre-combustion capture, and also supports related CO2 compression efforts. Current research and development efforts are advancing technologies that could provide step-change reductions in both cost and energy penalty compared to currently available technologies.

The selected projects focus on advancing the development of a suite of post-combustion CO2 capture and supersonic compression systems for new and existing coal-based electric generating plants, specifically: (1) supersonic compression systems, (2) small pilot-scale (from 0.5 to 5 MWe) post-combustion CO2 capture development and testing, and (3) large pilot-scale (from 10 to more than 25 MWe) post-combustion CO2 capture development and testing.

Project descriptions follow.

Supersonic Compression Systems

Dresser-Rand Company (Wellsville, NY) will design, build, and test a pilot-scale, supersonic CO2 compressor applicable to new and existing coal-based electric generating plants. The major benefits of the supersonic compressor include reduced capital costs, smaller footprint, and reduced parasitic plant impact. The compressor will also help to save and expand a compressor manufacturing and technology base in the United States, creating economic opportunity and jobs.

Cost: DOE: $4,000,000/ Non-DOE: $3,999,688/ Total Funding: $7,999,688

Small Pilot-Scale Post-Combustion Capture

FuelCell Energy Inc. (Danbury, CT) will design, fabricate, and test a small pilot-scale system that incorporates FuelCell Energy’s combined electric power and CO2 separation (CEPACS) system, based on electrochemical membrane (ECM) technology, to separate at least 90 percent of CO2 from a 3 MWe equivalent slipstream of pulverized coal plant flue gas and achieve 95 percent CO2 purity at a cost of $40/tonne of CO2 captured and at a cost of electricity 30 percent less than baseline CO2 capture approaches. Successful pilot-scale validation of the CEPACS system is expected to pave the path toward commercial deployment of cost-effective ECM technology for large scale coal-based carbon capture applications by 2025. Partner is AECOM.

Cost: DOE: $15,000,000/ Non-DOE: $8,728,906/ Total Funding: $23,728,906

Large Pilot-Scale Post-Combustion Capture

The projects selected under the Large Pilot-Scale Area of Interest were only selected for Phase 1.  In FY2016, the recipients will submit their Phase 2 application to be considered for the full project.

Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL) will capture approximately 500 tonnes per day of CO2 with a 90 percent capture rate from existing coal-fired boilers at the Abbott Power Plant on the campus of the University of Illinois using Linde/BASF’s cost-effective, energy-efficient, compact amine-based advanced CO2 capture absorption system. The successful completion of this project is expected to have significant impact on the speed of commercialization of this advanced solvent-based CO2 capture technology, and thereby meet the anticipated need for such plants beyond 2020. Partners are the Linde Group, BASF, Burns & McDonnell, and Affiliated Engineers Inc.


Cost: DOE: $1,000,000/ Non-DOE: $302,085/ Total Funding: $1,302,085

University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) will design, fabricate, install, and test a large-pilot facility that will illustrate an innovative carbon capture system integrated with an operating power plant. The novel concepts used in this project will improve the overall plant efficiency when integrated with a CO2 capture system and can be utilized to retrofit existing coal-fired power plants. Partners are Electric Power Research Institute, Koch Modular Process Systems, WorleyParsons, Smith Management Group, and CMTA Consulting Engineers.

Cost: DOE: $999,070/ Non-DOE: $250,716/ Total Funding: $1,249,786

NRG Energy Inc. (Princeton, NJ) will team with Inventys to install Inventys’s VeloxoTherm™ post-combustion project at one of its Gulf Coast coal plants to process a 10 MWe slipstream of coal flue gas to separate the CO2. This project is intended to prove that the cost of capture, both from an upfront capital requirement as well as from an operating standpoint, is lower using this new post-combustion capture process when compared to existing baseline technologies. A secondary benefit is to show that this technology has a reduced footprint in comparison to competing baseline technologies.

Cost: DOE: $1,000,000/ Non DOE: $250,000/ Total Funding: $1,250,000

Alstom Power Inc. (Windsor, CT) will conduct a 3-year large-scale pilot-plant program to implement several concepts for improving the attractiveness and lowering the overall cost of Alstom’s chilled ammonia process (CAP) CO2 capture technology. Alstom’s CAP has shown the ability to achieve greater than 90 percent CO2 capture while producing a high purity CO2 product stream. Partners are Technology Centre Mongstad, Georgia Institute of Technology, General Electric Power & Water—Purecowater, and ElectroSep Inc.

Cost: DOE: $922,709/ Non-DOE: $324,195/ Total Funding: $1,246,904

Southern Company Services (SCS) (Birmingham, AL) will test improvements to CCS processes using an existing 25 MWe, amine-based CO2 capture process at SCS’s Plant Barry. The project will address key technical challenges of current CCS technologies, including high steam consumption, solvent degradation due to flue gas contaminants, and large process footprints. The project researchers aim to improve upon the current state of the art of solvent-based processes by making significant progress towards meeting DOE’s goals.   Partners are AECOM and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America.

Cost: DOE: $707,207/ Non-DOE: $141,441/ Total Funding: $848,648

General Electric Company—GE Global Research (Oklahoma City, OK) will do validation testing of its aminosilicone CO2 capture system, a non-aqueous chemical solvent, at large pilot-scale at an operating plant.  A successful test will achieve two important results: (1) a closed heat and material balance that will validate performance claims, and (2) sustained operation and performance that will de-risk the technology. A validated aminosilicone system will represent a value proposition relative to aqueous amines in certain applications and enable commercial deployments on a short time frame. Partner is CO2 Capture Centre Mongstad.

Cost: DOE: $982,040/ Non-DOE: $245,510/ Total Funding: $1,227,550

Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project awards $9.3 million for innovative energy research

The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University has awarded $9.3 million for six new research projects on energy. The funding will be shared by scientists at Stanford and four other universities to develop a suite of promising energy technologies, from a device that extracts power from the night sky to a charcoal-like soil amendment that removes carbon dioxide from the air.

“For more than a decade, GCEP has supported bold ideas for new technologies that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said GCEP Director Sally Benson, a professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford. “These six projects are potential game changers that could help transform our global energy system in the future.”

The six awards bring the total number of GCEP-supported research programs to 127 since the project’s launch in 2002. In total, GCEP has awarded $170 million for energy research and other technical activities.

“The projects funded this cycle include a unique mix of energy technologies,” said GCEP management committee member Peter Trelenberg, manager of environmental policy & planning at Exxon Mobil. “These promising research efforts have the potential to open up pathways for applying innovative clean-energy approaches in the future.”

Stanford awards

The following Stanford faculty members will receive funding to develop new techniques for cooling buildings, improving engine efficiency and generating renewable fuels:

Nighttime radiative cooling: Harvesting the darkness of the universe. Researchers will create a device that generates electricity at night by radiating heat into outer space. This passive energy source, which exploits the large temperature difference between space and Earth, could provide nighttime lighting without batteries or other electrical inputs. Investigator: Shanhui Fan, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering.

Use of mixed combustion/electrochemical energy conversion to achieve efficiencies in excess of 70 percent for transportation-scale engines. This project will demonstrate how engines for transportation can be made at efficiencies above 70 percent, exceeding conventional internal combustion engines and fuel cells used today. Investigator: Chris Edwards, professor, Mechanical Engineering.

Electrochemical tuning of electronic structures for highly active electrocatalysts. The goal of this project is to identify efficient, low-cost metal catalysts that can split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen fuel. Researchers will conduct experiments on several promising catalytic materials using lithium to enhance hydrogen production. Investigators: Yi Cui, associate professor, Materials Science and Engineering; Harold Hwang, professor, Applied Physics.

Sustainable fuel production from carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The aim of this research is to discover metal catalysts capable of converting carbon dioxide and its byproducts into methanol and other alcohols for use in sustainable fuels and chemicals. Investigators: Professor Jens Nørskov, Associate Professor Thomas Jaramillo and Professor Stacey Bent, Chemical Engineering; Anders Nilsson, professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Negative-emissions awards

In 2012, GCEP conducted a workshop on the feasibility of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That workshop resulted in a worldwide call for proposals to develop new carbon-negative technologies. Two research teams outside of Stanford will receive funding in this category:

The pyrolysis-bioenergy-biochar pathway to carbon-negative energy. Heating plant material slowly without oxygen – a process called pyrolysis – produces a carbon-rich material called biochar. Researchers will study the production of biochar for use as a soil amendment that stores carbon underground instead of allowing carbon dioxide to re-enter the atmosphere as the plant decomposes. Investigators: David Laird, Bruce Babcock, Robert Brown and Dermot Hayes (Iowa State University); David Zilberman (University of California, Berkeley).

Sustainable transportation energy with net-negative carbon emissions. Researchers will conduct an integrated ecological and engineering systems analysis to identify promising transportation fuels with negative carbon emissions. The project will include field studies of potential grassland resources in the United States. Investigators: Eric Larson, Princeton University; Clarence Lehman and David Tilman, University of Minnesota.

GCEP is an industry partnership that supports innovative research on energy technologies to address the challenge of global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project includes five corporate sponsors: ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger, DuPont and Bank of America.


EPA Grants: Systems-Based Research for Evaluating Ecological Impacts of Chemicals

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One of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s priorities is to support  research that will result in a better understanding of the vulnerability of organisms and ecosystems to chemical exposures. Recent scientific advances provide new approaches for evaluating how exposures to chemicals influence the health of ecosystems. EPA research in this area is developing and applying innovative approaches to improve the evaluation of ecological resilience and impact analyses.

Through the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program, EPA is providing grant funding to six universities to complement its research in this area. The six recipients are developing and applying innovative methods and models to better understand and predict biological and ecological consequences of exposures to chemicals in environmental systems. The universities are researching how to apply different metrics, methods and models to characterize the interactions between spatial and temporal distribution of chemicals and ecological receptors and predict the consequences.