MassCEC Awards $250,000 in Grants to Clean Energy Reseachers and Early Stage Companies

Jun 21, 2012 –
Boston

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) today announced seven awardees will receive grants under the MassCEC Catalyst Program, aimed at commercializing the pioneering clean energy technologies coming out of Massachusetts’ world-class research institutions and now also startups based in Massachusetts. The seven awards will go to four Massachusetts-based startups and three Massachusetts institutions and total $250,000.
“I am thrilled that we have opened our application process to early stage startups and was happy to hear that this round we had such a high number of applicants,” said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. “We received numerous impressive applications in the fifth round of this program and we look forward to adapting our program to keep it current with market needs.”

The MassCEC Catalyst Program, which is funded by MassCEC and managed by MTTC, awards early-stage researchers and startups grant awards of up to $40,000 to help demonstrate the commercial viability of their clean energy technology.  The MassCEC Catalyst Program funding is part of the state’s match to the Department of Commerce funded Cleantech Innovations New England (CINE) program.

Recipients must use funding for projects that move towards commercialization of their technology. Awards could be used to develop a prototype or to gather initial data in order to show proof of concept or to obtain data that shows how the technology compares to existing technologies and what the competitive advantages are. The goal of the Catalyst Program is to help technologies progress along the development curve to a point where additional commercialization funding can be obtained.

“We have had two technologies licensed and five startups spun out from previous awards we have given out,” said Abigail Barrow, Director of the MTTC, “We’re looking forward to seeing these new companies grow alongside our previous awardees.”

“Massachusetts’ vibrant start-up community and outstanding academic and research institutions – and the innovations they produce - are integral to the growth of our clean energy sector,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “MassCEC’s Catalyst Program provides a leg up toward commercialization of these technologies, and the inclusion of early-stage companies will create even more healthy competition for these awards. I look forward to seeing the results from this round of awardees.”

MassCEC Catalyst Program received 37 applications from startups and researchers throughout the state. The fifth round of awards in this program goes to the following researchers:

Yan Wang, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Diran Apelian, Sc.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

“High Energy Density Flow Batteries”

MassCEC Catalyst Program funding will support researchers develop a new type of Ni/Zn flow battery with high energy density, high power density, long cycle life, low cost and high safety. This technology will help address the increasing energy storage needs for grid storage and renewable energy. The researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute will use the grant to develop a prototype device of the technology for interested parties.

Roberto Barbero, Ph.D.; Joseph Walish, Ph.D.; Thermeleon, Inc.

“Low-Cost, Smart Roofing Materials for Year-Round Energy Savings”

Thermeleon is developing a color-changing roof that is white on hot days to reflect unwanted heat and black on cold days to absorb it. The funds provided by this award will enable us to continue development of our prototype design of exciting new color-changing membrane roofing product.

Gillian Isabelle, Ph.D.; Enlivity Corporation

“Technical and Economic Feasibility of a Low Energy- and Water-Intensity Algal Bioreactor"

Enlivity Corporation is developing a new platform technology for algae culture with applications in biodiesel fuel production. The MassCEC Catalyst award will permit assess to the technical and economic feasibility of a novel bioreactor design and culture process. If successful, the technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the water required for algae culture and the energy required for the downstream harvesting and dewatering, providing a process that is more easily scalable and more cost-effective than current methods.

Kenneth Y. Lee, Ph.D., PE.; Department of Civil Engineering; Western New England University

“Developing Premium Grade Pellets from Coffee Husk for Residential Heating Applications”

Our technology is a process of turning coffee husk waste into sustainable bio-pellets for home heating applications by significantly reducing the ash content of the pellets to levels superior to currently available wood pellets.  The award money will help advance the technology and to develop a business model for entrepreneurial opportunities.  

Malay K. Mazumder, Ph.D.; Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mark N. Horenstein, Ph.D.; Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; N. Joglekar, Ph.D.; School of Management; Boston University

“Development of Prototype Self-Cleaning Solar Panels for Commercialization”

Large-scale solar panels, installed in vast areas of land such as in Mojave Desert, where sunshine is available 12/7 almost throughout the year, can provide all the electricity we need in the US and more. These sunniest areas are also the dustiest: dust on panels can cause 20% or more loss in energy yield and revenue. The MassCEC grant will enable us to build and demonstrate prototype self-cleaning solar panels, a technology developed at BU that can keep the panels clean at a very little cost without water or manual labor, to potential investors, solar farms, and solar panel manufacturers for commercialization.

Roger Faulkner; Ballistic Breaker Corporation

“Demonstration of Ballistic Breaker™ for 1200 volt, 1200 amp service”

DC circuit breakers are critical enabling technology for DC microgrids. The Ballistic Breaker™ is very fast compared to existing mechanical DC circuit breakers, and has lower cost than power electronic breakers. The special properties offered by the Ballistic Breaker™ are highly desirable for protection of high power motor controls. Faulkner will use the MassCEC funds by working with two MA firms to finalize the design and testing of a prototype.

Deepak Dugar, Ph.D.; Visolis, Inc.

“Cost Competitive Clean Chemicals Via Synthetic Biology”

Visolis, Inc. is an industrial biotechnology company developing the next generation of biocatalysts that can convert renewable feedstocks into chemicals and fuels at a price point competitive with petroleum based processes. With support of the catalyst program, Visolis intends to conduct proof of concept studies to demonstrate commercial viability of our biocatalysts.