Rockledge, FL, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.83K | Year: 2016

High selectivity in chemical reactions is the key to reducing costs, energy consumption and emissions in chemical processing. More selective and active catalysts will reduce the need for recovering unreacted chemicals for recycle and removing byproducts. Reducing the burden on separation processes will greatly reduce the energy required for chemical production. We propose to design macromolecular catalysts that resemble clamshells to act as highly selective C-H activation catalysts. These macro molecules will create complex, chiral pockets to bind metal ions, react with oxidants or molecular oxygen and react selectively with C-H bonds in a variety of hydrocarbon compounds. Prof. Schafmeister and his group at Temple University have already developed large, robust, abiotic macromolecules that resemble clamshells with programmable three-dimensional shapes. Mainstream Engineering will evaluate the catalytic activity of these materials when exposed to a panel of substrates to confirm the production of desired products as well as observe off-target catalytic activity that could lead to new applications of these molecules. Mainstream will also conduct a detailed commercialization analysis of all potential chemical pathways to ensure that the most lucrative products and catalysts are pursued in Phase II. The commercial applications of these catalysts are immense and include pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and personal care products. The public will benefit from lower cost goods as a result of more efficiently manufacturing processes. The public will also benefit from the reduced emissions of processes made more efficient by these catalysts. Key Words – Catalyst, biomimetic, selectivity, asymmetric Summary for Members of Congress: New catalysts are needed to improve selectivity and yield during chemical processing. We are developing new materials capable of performing much more selective chemistry than previously possible with conventional catalysts.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 863.32K | Year: 2015

Subsequent Phase II Proposal, extension of Phase II contract N0014-12-C-0373. High power, superconducting electron linear accelerators represent a new method of producing highly focused electron beams (Ebeams). These instruments have exciting applications in the area of free electron lasers and directed energy weapons, but are costly and currently only useful in small, highly-specialized markets. Using these high energy Ebeams for materials processing opens up additional markets for these instruments and in turn lower their manufacturing costs. In Phase I, Mainstream identified several materials processes that could be uniquely improved by the use of Ebeam treatment. In an initial Phase II, a new type of superconducting electron linear accelerator was procured in order to demonstrate the economical production of diamond copper composite heat spreaders. This subsequent Phase II will enable this Ebeam to also be demonstrated in the fabrication of copper indium gallium selenide nanocrystal films for advanced solar cells. Additionally, this Phase II will facilitate the commissioning of an advanced manufacturing facility at Mainstream, with the Ebeam as the centerpiece. The resulting Ebeam facility will establish a marketplace for these highly specialized Ebeams as well as produce several exciting new materials at the pilot-scale with both military and commercial applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.76K | Year: 2016

Membrane based gas separation provides an attractive route to the separation of several important gases as well as an opportunity to improve the environmental acceptability of a range of key industrial processes. This is due to a low energy requirement, low capital cost route to the removal of harmful pollutants from the process stream. Furthermore, membrane processes are typically modular and highly scalable therefore they can be applied to a wide range of applications from small scale portable oxygen generators to large scale industrial removal of CO2 from power plant effluent streams. However, improvements need to be made in the selectivity and rate. Mainstream is developing a range of membranes which mimic the selectivity of biological membranes. The rate of transport through the membrane will be enhanced by an innovative membrane design without sacrificing the selectivity. Moreover, Mainstream Engineering Corporation’s composite membrane are both modular and scalable as well as offering a route to significantly reducing the overall power requirements for the separations. Mainstream is developing highly selective membrane structures and composites for the separation of industrially significant gasses such as oxygen. Mainstream Engineering Corporation’s scalable and modular approach will be applicable to lowering the size, weight and power requirements of to a wide range of device from small portable oxygen generators to large industrial gas separations. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The goal of this Phase I proposal is to develop a highly selective separation of oxygen from air offering a path to significant improvements in portable and larger oxygen concentrators. Our platform technology can be applied to a wide range industrially important gasses by tailoring the chemistry and the membrane morphology to maximize the selectivity and rate of the separation. Our scalable and modular approach will be applicable to lowering the size, weight and power requirements of to a wide range of device from small portable oxygen generators to large industrial gas separations


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.12K | Year: 2016

Modern fuel cells have been in development since the 1960s and stand on the cusp of commercialization, but are held back by high manufacturing costs and expensive catalysts. Membrane costs alone can account for as much as 45% of the total cost of a commercial fuel cell system. Furthermore, manufacturing defects in the membrane can cascade into complete stack failure, which is expensive and time consuming to resolve. These defects are often not discovered until costly catalyst has been irreversibly applied and the MEA is fully assembled, leading to additional wasted materials and a slow correction of the coating process. To achieve large scale commercialization, fuel cell manufacturing needs a high efficiency, real time quality control system that can provide 100% inspection of the membrane at coating speeds up to 60 ft/min. Statement of how this problem or situation is being addressed Mainstream’s approach uses nearUV/Vis light to infer membrane film thickness, composition, and defects with a single detector, light source, and pair of cross polarizers. Mainstream’s Cross Polarized NearUV/Vis (CPNUVV) system simultaneously measures membrane thickness and determines and quantifies membrane defects in real time at rolltoroll coating speeds. This information can be relayed to a printer to mark defective membranes, allowing exclusion from catalyst coating as well as rapid feedback to correct the membrane coating process. Our approach enables two measurements to be performed with a single low cost detector and light source with no moving parts. In Phase I, Mainstream proved technology feasibility, developing the detector to a TRL 5 and demonstrating it on a membrane web line at speeds up to 100 ft/min. In Phase II, Mainstream will further develop the detector to a TRL 7, increase the resolution and operation speed, and demonstrate it on high speed rolltoroll membrane web lines. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits the CPNUVV Detector will help drive down costs and increase reliability of fuel cell membranes which are often still too expensive to compete with conventional power technologies. The early detection of defective membranes allows their removal before further coating or assembly steps, reducing costs by minimizing wasteful use of expensive platinum catalyst, labor used to construct stack materials, and defective returns from the customer. The CPNUVV Detector is not limited to fuel cell membranes and other membrane processes can benefit from improved quality control devices. Key Words: Fuel Cell, Quality Control, Membrane Electrode Assembly, PEM, Optical, Real time


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 2.53M | Year: 2015

Current refrigerant pumping technology lacks the ability to circulate a liquid-vapor mixture with substantial flow resistance, which impedes development and implementation of two-phase cooling technology. Common pump designs will hydro-lock and mechanically fail instantly or suffer performance loss and eventually fail due to cavitation or worn components. Mainstream Engineering Corporation has designed, fabricated, and tested a device that is capable of pumping R-134a refrigerant in saturated mixtures ranging from liquid to vapor, which will be refined and brought to TRL7 in Phase II. Refinement efforts will concentrate on increasing efficiency of the proven device. The performance enhanced pump will be production intent ready on a common platform for cross function commercialization.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 989.59K | Year: 2015

Freshwater is a vital resource for human survival as well as a key component of a wide range of industrial and agricultural needs. However, only 0.65% of the worlds water resources are available as freshwater, and the demand on the worlds water reserves continues to increase, with the demand beginning to outpace the supply in many areas. A water-energy nexus is being reached that requires low-cost and low-energy solutions for various degrees of treated water Seawater and other saline water materials make up around 98% of the available water, representing an almost unlimited supply. The energy, cost, and maintenance to remove salts and other unwanted compounds, however, are barriers to widespread implementation of salt-to- freshwater facilities. These facilities most commonly use reverse osmosis (RO) systems. Because of the required high pressures and moving parts, these facilities consume much grid energy and require constant maintenance, leading to high capital and operational costs. RO also generates highly concentrated bio-hazardous brine that is costly to safely return to the ocean. Capacitive desalination [or capacitive deionization (CDI)] offers a low pressure, low cost high efficiency approach to achieving a stable water supply. Moreover, it can use 1/3 the energy and produces 1/5 the concentrate waste compared to RO systems. In the Phase 1 development Mainstream demonstrated improved electrode structures to significantly enhance the extraction rate and extraction efficiency of capacitive deionization under practical operating conditions. We demonstrated a significant benefit in terms of extraction rate and energy efficiency compared to other prototype capacitive ionization devices being tested in the market. Our capacitive deionization system operates membrane free and is thus not susceptible to the fouling and failures that can occur with RO systems.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 984.05K | Year: 2015

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant An estimated billion people or about one third of the worldandapos s population rely on biomass fuel for cooking Emissions from biomass cookstoves contribute to global climate change indoor local air quality issues and related health effects I particular indoor air quality issues related to biomass cookstoves contribute significantly to rates of acute respiratory infection Recently developed forced air and andquot rocketandquot stoves offer improvements but are unlikely to consistently meet WHO guidelines for indoor air quality Emissions of CO unburned hydrocarbons including air toxins like formaldehyde and particulate matter PM are especially problematic Similar to the evolution of emissions controls for automobiles advanced biomass cookstoves have progressed to the point where inclusion of an oxidation catalyst is the logical next step However the widely used noble metal oxidation catalysts are prohibitively expensive Instead we proposed the inclusion of a low cost alternative oxidation catalyst that is integrated into the stove In Phase I the catalyst originaly developed as a diesel soot oxidation catalyst was synthesized characterized and tested in a specialized prototype cookstove Further catalyst development activities were undertaken to optimize the constituent ratios determine catalyst lifetime and develop simple methods for deposition on the support The prototype stove designed and tested in Phase I improved heat transfer to the cooking vessel and included design features that allow fine tuning of the air flow fuel air mixing and heat release In addition the prototype stove includes several design features to improve ease of use and safety The Phase I technical approach relied heavily on computational fluid dynamics CFD rapid prototyping and laboratory testing Laboratory measurements of PM CO and hydrocarbon emissions have been performed for both baseline stoves and the prototype low cost catalytic stove The Phase II technical approach includes refinement of the catalyst improvements to the stove design to better accommodate the catalyst field trials to gauge real world performance and user acceptance and design for manufacturing DFM analysis The commercialization strategy for the advanced cookstove seeks to manufacture the stoves in developing countries like Kenya and Guatemala where the stoves would be sold This approach will lower manufacturing costs and provide local jobs Unlike other catalysts the proposed catalyst requires no specialized wet chemistry methods for its synthesis In contrast the catalyst synthesis is essentially the same as traditional glass making and requires only a furnace and commodity chemicals All stages of the development will consider local manufacturability maintenance and user acceptance Stove customization options will be developed to accommodate local cooking traditions and variability of local biomass fuels PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Relevance of the Proposed Project to Public Health Exposure to high indoor air pollutant levels from cooking with biomass fuels is responsible for an estimated million deaths annually and about of the global burden of disease The proposed effort seeks to develop a low cost catalytic biomass cookstove that will substantially reduce emissions mitigate climate change and save lives


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Office of the Secretary of Defense | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 992.19K | Year: 2015

This effort is to develop a fast responding, light weight, direct injection system to operate within the fuels ignition delay time for UAS/UGS application. These systems must be applicable to engines that are 200 HP or less, either reciprocating or rotary. A technical challenge associated with the conversion of gasoline engines to heavy fuel (JP-8) is the avoidance of knock. An approach used to avoid knock is to operate within the fuels ignition delay time; hence to employ direct combustion chamber injection. The challenges of the reciprocating engine are to avoid end gas knock (auto ignition occurring in the end gas after spark) and to inject the fuel very late into the cycle. The challenges for the rotary engine are atomization and the avoidance of wall quenching due to its combustion chamber shape. Delaying the injection process causes higher pressure rise rates which can exceed the engines design capabilities. An injection system that offers fast response and multiple injections per cycle may alleviate excessive pressure rise and the avoidance of knock. Good combustion control eliminates many durability issues from overloading, shock, and combustion deposits. The shape of the combustion trace can be tailored through multiple injection pulses and combustion deposits can be controlled with better atomization and fuel patterns. Hence an injection system that offers fine atomization, fast response, and multiple injections per cycle is needed. System components are to include injectors, high pressure supply pump (1000 bar min), feed pump and controller with harness.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.96K | Year: 2016

Thermochemical processing via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is capable of processing a broad range of feedstocks, has a favorable net energy ratio, and produces an energy-dense liquid biooil product. However, there is an obstacle with current HTL processes that has hampered the adoption of this technology—the HTL process produces a considerable amount of aqueous organic byproducts. This problem can be addressed by minimizing the formation of aqueous-phase organics or by post-processing the aqueous phase to remove the dissolved organics. Mainstream Engineering is proposing a synergistic combination of these two approaches for improving the environmental and economical aspects of food waste HTL. By addressing the aqueous waste hurdle, this project will catalyze the adoption of HTL to convert high-moisture waste biomass to renewable fuel. Prof. Timko of Worchester Polytechnic Institute will develop new hydrothermally stable catalysts to improve the yield of the oil phase and minimize aqueous byproducts. Mainstream will develop a hydrothermal gasification system to create reducing gas for the liquefaction process while also removing dissolved organics from the aqueous phase. This will result in clean water that can be recycled or safely disposed. The proposed hybrid HTL/HTG process is focused on the conversion of waste biomass material to a renewable fuel that would displace petroleum-derived fuels, thereby addressing both a waste disposal challenge and a renewable fuel challenge. The public will benefit from renewable energy and reduced environmental impacts from liquefaction processes. Key Words – Catalyst, biofuels, thermochemical Summary for Members of Congress: The yield and quality of hydrothermal liquefaction oil must be improved for commercial adoption. We are developing new processes to improve the oil yield and reduce the aqueous byproducts during hydrothermal liquefaction of wet wastes.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.11K | Year: 2016

The efficient thermal control of vehicles is essential to the success of every single NASA mission. All vehicles have very tight requirements for the thermal control systems while simultaneously placing incredibly stringent demands upon them. These demands are getting even more intense given the shift towards variable heat rejection, which is essential in missions reaching beyond the lower earth orbit. Specifically, the thermal control fluid must maintain excellent thermal properties for heat rejection under peak conditions while at the same time remain liquid at extremely low temperatures. Currently used fluids either do not meet the low temperature requirement (glycol/water mixture) or do not have thermal properties conducive to a compact, efficient system (Galden). Mainstream has identified several promising next generation thermal fluids using computation chemical techniques. Mainstream has already demonstrated in Phase I that these fluids are superior to incumbent fluids. In Phase II, Mainstream will perform more long term durability, compatibility and performance studies in a simulated test-loop representative of conditions encountered on NASA spacecraft.

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