Small Businesses Win Technical Support for Clean Energy Technology Development

PEM fuel cell clean energy technology
Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell.

Four small businesses will be working with Los Alamos National Laboratory to accelerate the nation’s transformation toward a clean energy economy as part of the Department of Energy’s Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot project. These businesses will gain access to world-class laboratory resources to help move innovative ideas and technologies closer to the marketplace.

“Small businesses can be real catalysts for innovation and job creation,” said Melissa Fox, Program Director for Applied Energy Programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “As a national research laboratory, we’re uniquely positioned to help them harness cutting-edge technologies and research to bring products to the marketplace that can make a real difference in how we create and consume energy.” Small businesses develop innovative technology and produce more than 15 times as many patents per employee as larger patenting firms, according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

The following four businesses were awarded the pilot vouchers for a total of $590,000:

  • Amsen Technologies of Tucson, Ariz. Los Alamos will characterize the company’s new polymer electrolyte membranes and evaluate against DOE targets for fuel cell applications. Results will optimize the development process of membranes for fuel cells.
  • Sustainable Innovations of East Hartford, Conn. Los Alamos will validate the company’s multi-channel hydrogen fuel quality monitor through testing and performance characterization to optimize design.
  • KWJ Engineering of Newark, Calif. Los Alamos and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will fabricate and deliver sensors and conduct product characterization to develop the next generation of gas-sensing system for hydrogen and other gases.
  • Treadstone Technologies of Princeton, N.J. Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will analyze the potential for deploying the company’s patented coating and processing technologies in the electrolyzer and fuel cell markets. This work will contribute to low-cost, metal bipolar-plate manufacturing processes and quality control system development.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will invest nearly $6.7 million in 33 companies–including the four above–under Round 1 of the SBV pilot.

These partnerships between clean energy small businesses and DOE national laboratories help promote economic development and American innovation by pairing DOE’s unparalleled laboratory resources and expertise with small business drive and creativity.

The selected small businesses, from more than 20 states, will work with scientists at nine department laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

SBV is a collaborative, national effort that provides $20 million for U.S. companies to help improve industry awareness of national laboratory capabilities and provide small and mid-size businesses access to the resources available within the national laboratory system. Vouchers range from $50,000-$300,000.

The companies were competitively chosen from a pool of hundreds of applications. Approximately 36 percent of the businesses represent new DOE-industry partnerships and relationships with the national labs. The department is now accepting applications for Round 2 of the SBV pilot. A total of $13 million worth of funding remains; over the course of the year, up to 100 vouchers will be awarded. New Mexico small businesses are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit

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