MassCEC Awards $160,000 in Grants to Clean Energy Researchers at Four Massachusetts Institutions

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Robert Fitzpatrick
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Mar 23, 2011 –
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) today announced four researchers will receive grants under the MassCEC Catalyst Program, which supports the commercialization of game-changing clean energy technologies coming out of Massachusetts’ world-class research institutions.
“On behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration, I am pleased to congratulate these grant recipients who are working on innovative, next-generation solutions for our clean energy future,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who chairs the MassCEC board of directors.
The MassCEC Catalyst Program, which is funded by MassCEC and managed by MTTC, awards early-stage researchers grant awards of up to $40,000 to help demonstrate the commercial viability of their clean energy technology. Recipients must use funding for projects that advance the eventual commercialization of their technologies. Awards are used to develop prototypes, or to gather initial data showing proof of a concept or to obtain data that show a technology’s competitive advantage and how it compares to existing technologies. 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.
MassCEC also announced a new partnership between the Catalyst Program and ULaunch, a technology commercialization program managed by Fraunhoffer and supported by MassCEC.  MassCEC Catalyst Program awardees, including those recognized today, will be automatically considered for ULaunch.  MTTC will also offer coaching and its platform program to ULaunch winners to help them focus their business strategies.  MTTC’s platform program provides inventors and company founders with an opportunity to refine their commercialization plans in a supportive environment and to solicit early-stage feedback from experts as they develop a strategic business plan.
“MassCEC’s Catalyst program showcases the Commonwealth’s vibrant community of passionate technologists who are working to propel clean energy technologies from the research lab to the global marketplace,” said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. “By partnering with ULaunch we can ensure that our newly formed companies receive the broadest range of support as they grow here in the Commonwealth.” 
“These small grants are incredibly important to researchers as it enables them to get their inventions closer to commercialization and attract additional investments,” said MTTC Director Abigail Barrow. 
MassCEC Catalyst Program received 27 applications from researchers throughout the state in the second round of the program. The second round of awards in this program goes to the following researchers:

Dunwei Wang, Ph. D., “Benchmarking Performance of Si-based Nanostructures for High-performance Li-ion Batteries” 

Boston College’s Department of Chemistry

MassCEC Catalyst Program funding will provide support to perfect a technology based on a novel two dimensional material known as nanonets that the Boston College team discovered. This technology represents a new platform for efficient energy conversion and storage and will likely produce rechargeable lithium ion batteries with record-high capacities and powers.

Yiannis Levendis, Ph.D., “A Versatile Self-Sustaining Device for Power Generation by Sequential Liquifaction, Gasification and "Clean Combustion" of Waste Plastics” 

Northeastern University’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

MassCEC Catalyst Program funding will help researchers develop a self-sustaining device for power generation by sequential liquefaction, gasification and “clean combustion” of waste plastics. This technology will help address increasing energy needs and utilize solid waste. Northeastern researchers will use the grant to develop a laboratory-scale demonstration of the technology for interested parties.  

Bart Lipkens, Ph.D., “Ultrasound and Acoustophoresis Technology for the Collection and Processing of Oleaginous Microorganisms for the Production of Bio-oils.” 

Western New England College’s Mechanical Engineering Department 

MassCEC Catalyst Program funding will help researchers develop a laboratory sized prototype that uses ultrasound and acoustophoresis technology to produce biofuels from micro-algae. The system involves the harvesting of micro-algae, the production of biofuel from the algae, and the concentration and separation of the biofuel. Initial results of the technology show a significant reduction in the cost of energy for the proposed system compared to current bio-oil methods.

Yong Kim, Ph.D., “Ultra-Effective Fiber-based Bioconversion Media Materials for Air/Water Bioremediation and Bio-Ethanol Production from SynGas” 

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s Department of Bioengineering

Dr. Yong K. Kim’s research team has invented and developed a novel fiber-based media material that will convert waste products that can pollute the environment into benign and useful substances.  The team’s Biofilter material hosts and supports useful microorganisms / biocatalysts for a range of exciting biochemical conversion reactions from removing ammonia and nitrate products in water to converting Biogas to cleaner burning liquid fuel.  MassCEC’s Catalyst Program award will fund a field evaluation of the developed media materials. The team will design and implement a prototype housing and system for the Biofilter material, conduct a real world trial by installing the Biofilter material in a live fish production experimental set-up at Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School’s aquaculture training facility for energy–efficient biofiltration, and conduct feasibility experiments for using the Biofilter media in the bioconversion of CO and H2 (SynGas) to Ethanol at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center in Fall River.  These trial experiments will advance the commercial development of these novel bioconversion media materials.  

About the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center

The Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) was created in 2004 as a program in the Massachusetts Economic Stimulus Bill. Its goal is to support technology transfer activities from public and private research institutions to companies in Massachusetts. To achieve this goal, the Center works with technology transfer offices at Massachusetts research institutions; faculty, researchers, and students who have commercially promising ideas; and companies across the Commonwealth. The MTTC is based in the University of Massachusetts President’s Office. More information is available at