Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National LaboratoryRICHLAND, Wash. – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been tapped as one of five national laboratories to lead the Department of Energy's new Small Business Vouchers Pilot. SBV will help small clean energy firms get technology assistance from world class scientists, engineers and facilities within the DOE national laboratory system.
PNNL was selected to support small businesses in three clean energy sectors: bioenergy, water power and buildings. Oak Ridge, Lawrence Berkeley, and Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory were also selected as lead labs in the pilot program. Assistance will also be provided through the pilot to small businesses in other clean energy areas, including advanced manufacturing, solar, wind, geothermal, vehicles and fuel cells.
PNNL will receive approximately $2.7 million of the $20 million DOE is investing in the pilot. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy's Small Business Voucher Pilot is part of EERE's Lab Impact Initiative, which aims to significantly increase the industrial impact of national laboratories on the U.S. clean energy sector.
Starting this fall, companies with fewer than 500 employees will be able to apply for $50,000 to $300,000 in vouchers that can be used for a variety of technology assistance from PNNL and other DOE labs.
"We will draw on PNNL's award-winning Technology Assistance Program, which has been in existence for more than 20 years," said Technology Deployment and Outreach Director Cheryl Cejka. "We've been able to help a lot of small companies who have great innovations but not necessarily all the right resources to move them to the marketplace."
Genifuel Corporation is an example of a small business that initially received technology assistance from PNNL and has worked with the laboratory on a process to convert algae to a useful crude oil via a chemical process that takes just minutes in a lab.
PNNL has robust and diverse research and development programs in bioenergy systems, water power and energy efficient building technologies, with a total of more than 200 researchers specializing in these areas. That scientific and engineering expertise will be made available through the Tech on Call service being developed for the SBV pilot.
"Throughout PNNL's 50-year history of delivering impactful science and technology, we have often collaborated with industry to bring innovations to market to benefit U.S. economic competitiveness," said PNNL Director Steven Ashby. "We look forward to similar contributions in bioenergy, water power, and buildings technologies as part of DOE's new pilot."
PNNL is teaming with a network of six partner organizations nationwide to maximize the impact of outreach efforts. The partners, Clean Energy Trust of Chicago, New England Clean Energy Council of Boston, CleanTech Alliance Washington of Seattle, CleanTech of San Diego, SSTI of Westerville, Ohio and CleanTech Open of Redwood City, CA, will help PNNL connect with small clean energy businesses, assist in evaluating applications and provide business assistance and connections to industry networks.