i6 Green Challenge Launched
DOE joined with the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration and its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship on March 10 to kickoff the $12 million i6 Green Challenge.
The 2nd annual i6 Green Challenge focuses rewards innovative, ground-breaking ideas that enable technology commercialization, new venture formation, green job creation, and economic growth.
The funding supports six regional teams with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green building technology/manufacturing, materials reuse/recycling, and environmental restoration.
It aims to promote collaboration in each region by encouraging and rewarding innovative Proof-of-Concept Centers, which accelerate technology commercialization by assisting entrepreneurs and existing companies. The proposed centers should help to solve problems that impede technology commercialization in a given region.
The partnership also includes the USDA, EPA, National Science Foundation, the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Letters of intent are due by May 2, and the deadline to submit a full application is May 26. See the DOE press release, the federal funding opportunity announcement , and the i6 Green Challenge website.
DOE Fellowships to Support Next Generation of Clean Energy Innovators
On March 10, DOE announced two fellowship programs designed to attract the best and brightest scientific minds in the US to work on advanced renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
The Postdoctoral Fellowships Program and the SunShot Initiative Fellowships Program will prepare scientists and engineers for careers in clean energy. These programs will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and support job growth by promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education.
Under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Postdoctoral Fellowships Program, DOE is seeking up to 20 postdoctoral fellows whose academic careers have focused on: building efficiency, industrial efficiency, advanced vehicles, fuel cells, wind or water power, or biomass, geothermal, or solar energy.
The 2-year program will support research and development of breakthrough technologies, by encouraging fellows to pursue innovative, independent projects in addition to the specific research project area selected by the fellow when applying to the program. Applications for EERE Postdoctoral Fellowships are due June 30. Fellowships will begin by mid-November and will last up to two years. See the EERE Postdoctoral Fellowship Program website.
The SunShot Initiative Fellowships Program will select either recent Masters or Ph.D. graduates to focus on critical technology innovations that will advance the SunShot goal of a 75% reduction in the total cost of solar energy systems by the end of the decade.
Those selected will aggressively drive innovations in the ways solar systems are conceived, designed, manufactured, and installed. They will work at DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program headquarters in Washington, DC, and will help develop new research and development programs to achieve the cost-cutting goal. See the DOE press release, the SunShot Initiative Fellowship Program website, and the SunShot Initiative website.
Grant Helps Propel Innovative Wind Energy Small Business
Since then, the Park City, Utah-based small business received early funding from DOE, which catalyzed investment from the California Energy Commission and private sources and ensured that the promise of the company's innovative technology could be realized at commercial scale. As a testament to the importance of DOE's investment in innovative small businesses, Wind Tower Systems' 100-meter "Space Frame Tower" technology was acquired by General Electric Company (GE) in early February.
The innovative design of the taller wind turbine towers can product more power because higher-altitude winds are stronger and the towers can be outfitted with longer blades. The combination of stronger winds and longer blades enable the turbines to capture more energy, improving wind farm developers' return on investment per unit.
With the support of $850,000 in Phase I and II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from DOE in 2002 and 2003, Wind Tower Systems was able to complete the final engineering design for the 100-meter wind turbine tower that GE now plans to market. See the complete Energyblog post.
A Biofuels First: Producing Isobutanol from Cellulose
Researchers at DOE's BioEnergy Science Center have achieved another advance in the drive toward creating next-generation biofuels by using bacteria to convert plant matter directly into isobutanol.
Using consolidated bioprocessing-a one-step process to produce biofuels-the team produced isobutanol directly from cellulose for the first time.
Higher-grade alcohols such as isobutanol are better candidates for replacing gasoline than ethanol because they have an energy density, octane value, and volatility that's much closer to gasoline.
The process highlights the possibility of creating a new industry using bio-material such as wheat and rice straw, lumber wastes, corn stover, and specially-developed plants to produce biofuels.
The research is part of a broad DOE effort to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to create new economic opportunities for rural America. Researchers at DOE's BioEnergy Science Center, led by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), conducted the work. The team's findings are published online in the journal "Applied and Environmental Microbiology." See the press releases from DOE and ORNL, as well as the BioEnergy Science Center website.
EERE Network News is a weekly publication of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).