Pendleton, SC, United States
Pendleton, SC, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 496.44K | Year: 2015

In this Phase II SBIR program, Tetramer Technologies will develop new, commercially attractive, thermoplastic optical polymers that have ultra-low scattering losses for use in diffraction-limited optical lenses. The value proposition to the customer using optical components made from Tetramer polymers will be decreased scattering of light transmitted through the polymer lens, resulting in smaller Airy disks and improved Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) in optical devices. Currently, the scattering loss found in commercially available sources of optical polymers, such as poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and poly(styrene acrylonitrile) (SAN), is unacceptably high to the detriment of the imaging capabilities of optical devices such as night vision goggles. The Navys development of gradient refractive index (GRIN) polymer lenses offers drastic increases in focusing power and reductions to the weight of optical systems; however, this technology remains limited by the availability of optical polymers with satisfactory optical performance. Through the proposed research and commercialization activities, Tetramer aims to address the need for a domestic source of high performance optical polymers and enable the next generation of polymer optical components.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is to facilitate the commercialization of new low calorie fat technology to solve some of the largest obesity and related health issues facing the United States while providing a patentable new additive platform to sell or license to the $600 billion food industry. With high caloric density foods being the primary cause for the obesity epidemic, the facilitation of low calorie fat substitutes will have a powerful impact on the health of a large portion of society, reducing health care costs and providing a positive economic impact. Locally, the development of this technology will result in potential growth of high technology jobs in South Carolina. The objectives of this Phase I research project are to address the growing obesity epidemic in the US through the development of new molecular architectures for crystallization modifiers a low calorie fat substitutes which have been shown to reduce caloric intake by 90%. Previous attempts to commercialize fat substitute technology, such as Olestra from P&G, have encountered issues with undesirable anal leakage of the fat substitute out of the body which have dramatically reduced their market acceptance. This issue has been addressed by Tetramer, but due to the innovative molecular structures used, a suite of new commercial crystallization modifiers must be developed which can modify the crystallization rates to best match the performance of current natural fat products. Therefore, the key technical objectives are to determine the fundamental mechanism of how Tetramer?s new crystallization modifiers can solve both the nucleation and crystal growth modes governing the crystallization rates during manufacture of food compositions containing low calorie fat replacers. The structure/activity relationships developed will allow a new class of crystallization modifiers to be commercialized which will allow the fat reduction technology to be more rapidly applied to the large markets within the food industry. These new structures could also be applied to non-food applications such as clarifiers for polymer products.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SMALL BUSINESS PHASE II | Award Amount: 1.14M | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project will determine the technical feasibility and the commercial value proposition for high temperature, highly processable fiber optic coatings across a range of markets to include fiber lasers, fibers for oil and gas, avionics fiber, and medical fiber. Tetramer will perform research to modify the structure of polymer coatings to provide enhanced performance which will extend the capabilities of current fiber optics. Coatings developed will advance our understanding of structure property relationships and establish new boundaries for the polymer system. During this program, Tetramer will synthesize new monomers and polymers and evaluate their properties for use as fiber coatings. At the end of this program, Tetramer anticipates it will have developed 3 new types of polymers with a set of performance characteristics which are not available from any one single material today. New fiber coatings will be developed which are capable of operating at temperatures above 300 deg C, having greater processability, and for laser applications, having lower refractive indices.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will impact society in many ways due to the various markets in which the coatings can have a meaningful impact on the optical fiber performance. Fiber optic lasers are quickly becoming the preferred method for laser fabrication. By enabling fiber lasers to operate at higher temperatures, fiber lasers will immediately see increased output powers and longer service lifetimes. With applications in industrial metal working (welding, cutting, and engraving/marking), micromachining, and medical devices, doubling power output via improved coatings will have a major impact across many industries. Higher temperature fiber coatings will improve down-hole drilling and the overall efficiency of oil drilling operations through better temperature monitoring in deep wells. This has the potential to lower prices of oil and increase oil production. Additionally, these fibers can aid in geothermal well monitoring which would provide a green source of energy. The coatings under development have the potential to generate increased revenue and profit throughout the value chain through increased performance of products and enhanced market sizes through enhanced capabilities. Tetramer will also use this Phase II program to train undergraduate and graduate level students from nearby Clemson University


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2016

Tetramer developed a novel type of security coating that has generated significant interest in both DoD and commercial markets; however, the reproducibility and Manufacturing Readiness Level of the coatings is too low to transition this technology to interested markets. Tetramer proposes this Phase IIB to design and build a coater device enabling reproducible processing of these materials for the purpose of validating their utility as security coatings. The innovation of this technology is its sensitivity to perimeter breaches for coated substrates; however, the coatings are highly processing dependent and require stable processing conditions to prevent false positive tamper indication. To develop a system capable of providing uniform, reproducible manufacturing conditions, Tetramer will adapt a computer numerical control motion system to provide digital control of a coating fixture. By integrating the motion controls with the deposition controls, various deposition techniques and processes will be investigated to identify the processing conditions necessary to prepare security coatings with consistent and predictable performance. Since the films are comprised of polymer materials that are deposited as monomers, part of the process research will include the development of consistent, uniform curing methods as well as evaluation of starting materials to provide acceptance criteria that are directly tied to coating properties. In Phases I and II, the fundamental operating concepts of this technology were successfully demonstrated. Coatings were manufactured by hand with manual casting and curing techniques and integrated with LEDs and sensors to exhibit the technology for potential customers in security and defense markets. These potential customers enthusiastically received the concept but stated that the potential for false positives from variable manufacturing processes was a risk to scale up. These companies have encouraged Tetramer to pursue this opportunity to advance the manufacturability of these coatings and have offered up to $200,000 of in kind support to facilitate advancement of this technology for future DoD and commercial applications. Key applications for this technology are for tamper indicating or anti tampering coatings. Several iterations of the coatings are described during the proposal with different levels of complexity and utility. High security coatings (e.g. For physical security of electronics and servers or Nuclear Safeguards) are enabled using this technology that can autonomously detect tampering events to the perimeter of a protected volume and initialize further tamper indicating or anti tamper mechanisms. Another form of the coatings can be used for 2factor authentication of products and has utility in commercial and governmental applications. Lastly, simple tamper indication coatings based on Tetramer® materials can be integrated with commercial thin films such as shrink wrap or product label films to provide novel tamper indicating and authentication functionality at low cost. Key Words: tamper indicating, coatings, safeguards, authentication, verification, tamper evident. Current tamper indicating technologies do not ufficiently indicate real and attempted attacks on protected volumes, allowing counterfeiting of commercial products and theft of sensitive documents, data, and weapons. Manufacture of unique coatings will enable a broad range of tamper indicating and anti-tamper technologies from simple tokens to autonomous tamper detection.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 642.69K | Year: 2016

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project is to facilitate the commercialization of low fat replacement EPG technology to help solve some of the largest obesity and related health issues facing the US while providing a patentable new additive platform for the $600 billion food industry. With high caloric density foods being the primary cause for the obesity epidemic, the facilitation of rapid development of 92% lower calorie fat replacers such as EPG will have a powerful impact on the health of a large portion of society, reducing health care cost for US citizens and providing a positive economic impact for the US. The highest initial impact will be the introduction of additive modified EPG fat replacers to the confectionary segment where the need for decreased caloric content is greatest due to the absence of compatible low-calorie fats. Locally, the development of this technology will result in growth of 20 + high technology jobs in South Carolina. During Phase II, Tetramer will work with undergraduates and high school students through the NSF Phase II supplemental programs, which have trained 25 undergraduate students and 9 high school students who have all gone into STEM careers. The objectives of this Phase II research project are to provide critically needed additive control technology to allow the dramatically reduced caloric intake (up to 92% ) of esterified propoxylated glycerol technology (EPG) to be used in many food products that today contain high calorie natural fats and oils. During Phase I activities, Tetramer discovered that the new EPG approach to mitigating the growing obesity epidemic in the US was hampered by the fact that being a new technology EPG processes differently than high calorie fats such as palm kernel oil or cocoa butter. This creates a manufacturing mismatch for a significant number of the products in the projected $2.6 Billion fat replacement market. To date the commercially available additives do not work, thus requiring a new additive molecular architecture ?toolbox? to optimize the processing variables. Tetramer will use it's synthetic organic chemistry and material science expertise to synthesize and optimize additives that will allow EPG?s to provide 92% lower calories, while still maintaining the same sensory, physical properties and processing efficiency as the natural oils they will replace. End use applications will be developed through collaborations with food industry leaders.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SMALL BUSINESS PHASE I | Award Amount: 180.00K | Year: 2015

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is to facilitate the commercialization of new low calorie fat technology to solve some of the largest obesity and related health issues facing the United States while providing a patentable new additive platform to sell or license to the $600 billion food industry. With high caloric density foods being the primary cause for the obesity epidemic, the facilitation of low calorie fat substitutes will have a powerful impact on the health of a large portion of society, reducing health care costs and providing a positive economic impact. Locally, the development of this technology will result in potential growth of high technology jobs in South Carolina.

The objectives of this Phase I research project are to address the growing obesity epidemic in the US through the development of new molecular architectures for crystallization modifiers a low calorie fat substitutes which have been shown to reduce caloric intake by 90%. Previous attempts to commercialize fat substitute technology, such as Olestra from P&G, have encountered issues with undesirable anal leakage of the fat substitute out of the body which have dramatically reduced their market acceptance. This issue has been addressed by Tetramer, but due to the innovative molecular structures used, a suite of new commercial crystallization modifiers must be developed which can modify the crystallization rates to best match the performance of current natural fat products. Therefore, the key technical objectives are to determine the fundamental mechanism of how Tetramer?s new crystallization modifiers can solve both the nucleation and crystal growth modes governing the crystallization rates during manufacture of food compositions containing low calorie fat replacers. The structure/activity relationships developed will allow a new class of crystallization modifiers to be commercialized which will allow the fat reduction technology to be more rapidly applied to the large markets within the food industry. These new structures could also be applied to non-food applications such as clarifiers for polymer products.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SMALL BUSINESS PHASE II | Award Amount: 642.69K | Year: 2016

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project is to facilitate the commercialization of low fat replacement EPG technology to help solve some of the largest obesity and related health issues facing the US while providing a patentable new additive platform for the $600 billion food industry. With high caloric density foods being the primary cause for the obesity epidemic, the facilitation of rapid development of 92% lower calorie fat replacers such as EPG will have a powerful impact on the health of a large portion of society, reducing health care cost for US citizens and providing a positive economic impact for the US. The highest initial impact will be the introduction of additive modified EPG fat replacers to the confectionary segment where the need for decreased caloric content is greatest due to the absence of compatible low-calorie fats. Locally, the development of this technology will result in growth of 20 + high technology jobs in South Carolina. During Phase II, Tetramer will work with undergraduates and high school students through the NSF Phase II supplemental programs, which have trained 25 undergraduate students and 9 high school students who have all gone into STEM careers.

The objectives of this Phase II research project are to provide critically needed additive control technology to allow the dramatically reduced caloric intake (up to 92% ) of esterified propoxylated glycerol technology (EPG) to be used in many food products that today contain high calorie natural fats and oils. During Phase I activities, Tetramer discovered that the new EPG approach to mitigating the growing obesity epidemic in the US was hampered by the fact that being a new technology EPG processes differently than high calorie fats such as palm kernel oil or cocoa butter. This creates a manufacturing mismatch for a significant number of the products in the projected $2.6 Billion fat replacement market. To date the commercially available additives do not work, thus requiring a new additive molecular architecture ?toolbox? to optimize the processing variables. Tetramer will use its synthetic organic chemistry and material science expertise to synthesize and optimize additives that will allow EPG?s to provide 92% lower calories, while still maintaining the same sensory, physical properties and processing efficiency as the natural oils they will replace. End use applications will be developed through collaborations with food industry leaders.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2015

Missiles produced with reactive materials can add chemical energy to the kinetic energy generated on impact with a target. Thus, reactive materials have potential to serve as structural components resulting in possible increase lethality without a weight impact. In Phase I, Tetramer will demonstrate a new material system with significantly stronger mechanical properties and excellent reactive properties. Materials will be synthesized and tested to determine the engineering trade-offs between strength and energetic properties. (Approved for Public Release 15-MDA-8482 (17 November 15))


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2015

During this Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project Tetramer will focus on increasing the performance and lowering the cost of on-site hydrogen generation by developing a higher performance proton exchange membrane for the electrolysis of water. Hydrogen generation is a promising technology for renewable energy capture as it has the capability to store massive amounts of energy in a relatively small volume and is highly flexible. With the ever-increasing addition of wind and solar renewable energy to the traditional electric grid, the need for energy storage also grows. In Europe and Japan, hydrogen is already being looked upon as a key part of the energy storage solution, providing a link between the electric grid and gas grid infrastructures.The lack of a hydrogen infrastructure is currently seen as one of the barriers to full conversion to fuel cell cars, which would need no gasoline, thus further reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Hydrogen can also be injected into the natural gas pipelines (thus making that energy carrier more green), used in the production of high value chemicals such as ammonia, or used to upgrade conversion efficiency for methanization-produced biogas. In addition, electrolysis can also provide ancillary services to the grid such as frequency regulation and load shifting. Working with Proton OnSite, a global leader in on-site hydrogen generation with over 2000 installations worldwide, Tetramers early stage Phase I results were very encouraging, demonstrating the feasibility of significantly lowering of energy costs through better performance, particularly with respect to lowering hydrogen crossover and better polarization performance. Tetramer achieved these results by focusing on synthesizing a new lower cost polymer molecular architecture. Phase II will expand on these excellent results by targeting thinner membranes with even less hydrogen crossover at higher pressures and higher durability. During Phase II, Tetramers partner, Proton OnSite, will actively participate in the testing and design of Tetramers membranes. They will then build a prototype system which will demonstrate the commercial value proposition. These activities are expected to generate 15 new jobs in South Carolina and over 100 jobs in Connecticut.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.99K | Year: 2015

Durability and cost have been identified as the 2 main needed improvement opportunities for vibrant commercialization of fuel cell vehicles by the DOE sponsored US Drive Fuel Cell Technical Team, with the humidifier and PEM membrane performance and cost being among the key concerns. During Phase II, Tetramer Technologies has developed new water vapor transport (WVT) membranes which significantly outperformed the current perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA-Nafion) and other WVT membrane competitors at ~50% lower projected cost. Optimization of this new technology during Phase IIB, which will involve improved block copolymers, support structures, and IEC improvements will positively affect the fuel cell balance of plant efficiency and lower costs. These new polymer structures also showed no detrimental anhydride formation at the higher (120oC) cathode inlet temperatures required by fuel cell OEMs. This anhydride formation of conventional PSFA membranes has caused >60% reduction of water vapor performance at 85oC cathode inlet temperatures, and at the much higher required stack temperatures anhydride formation will only accelerate. Engineering an automotive fuel cell system to compensate for such significant losses would be complicated and expensive (in addition to the high cost of the PFSA WVT polymer), since a larger humidifier would have to be built to compensate for this WVT variation. This variation could also affect the durability and cost of the proton exchange membrane (PEM) stack. In addition to the power optimization, lower cost, and lower weight impacts afforded by a WVT system for fuel cell vehicles, these membranes are excellent enthalpy candidates for the high potential energy savings (~ 40%) achieved by conditioning air for the large HVAC market which currently uses billions of btus. The primary focus of the proposed Phase IIB research will be to take advantage of the new technologies discovered during the delayed Phase II development to increase the commercial value proposition by further lowering manufacturing cost, optimizing polymer molecular architecture, extending durability, and performance (which will further decrease fuel cell engine cost, durability, and weight). Additionally, the Phase IIB research will include building of a commercial prototype humidification system by Dana Corporation (headquartered in Maumee, Ohio), which had worldwide sales of $6.6 billion in drive train components to the auto industry in 2014. The Phase IIB durability target will be 10% performance loss over a 500 hour accelerated test and 5000 hours over the operating life of the vehicle. We have strong support letters from Dana, GM, MTR, and Fumatech, providing significant in-kind product device testing and development cost with a goal of providing a prototype cathode humidifier for commercial vehicles and HVAC systems by 2018. By 2022, an estimated 120,000 m2 of membrane will be needed from Tetramer.

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