EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program announced the award of nearly $3 million to 13 companies to support their work in seven key environmental areas: nanotechnology, monitoring of air emissions, pollution prevention, hazardous waste management, water treatment, homeland security, and innovation in manufacturing. The companies received "proof of concept" awards from EPA last year and will use these additional funds to move their technology towards commercialization.
EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal Research and Development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation. There are approximately 22 million small businesses in the United States that employ more than 50% of the private work force and develop most of the country's new technologies. To participate in SBIR, a small business must have fewer than 500 employees, and at least 51% of the business must be owned by U.S. citizens.
EPA's program has two phases. In the first phase, a company receives seed money to prove that its new idea can work. In the second phase, the company receives further funds to move the technology to the marketplace.
Below are a list of companies and the technologies in which they are working.
Four companies are working on technologies related to homeland security and/or water quality:
- Physical Sciences Inc., located in Andover, Mass., is developing a portable instrument to monitor hydrogen peroxide concentrations during building decontamination after accidental or purposeful exposure to hazardous biological materials.
- Innovative Biotechnologies International Inc., of Grand Isle, N.Y., is improving a technology to rapidly detect viable waterborne pathogens in drinking water.
- Scientific Methods Inc., of Granger, Ind., is developing a sample collection system for drinking water that is able to concentrate a broad range of pathogens simultaneously.
- MixZon Inc., based in Portland, Ore., is working with infrared cameras mounted on balloon platforms to remotely sense water quality in mixing zones.
Two companies are exploring the use of cutting-edge nanotechnologies to address environmental problems:
- PolyNew Inc., based in Golden, Colo., is developing and commercializing next-generation bioplastics using nanotechnology to address environmental concerns associated with conventional plastics.
- Applied Sciences Inc., located in Cedarville, Ohio, is developing a technology that uses carbon nanofibers instead of solvent-based primers to electrostatically paint cars.
Two companies are working on technologies related to monitoring air emissions:
- Altex Technologies Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif., is developing an auxiliary power unit for trucks that uses fuel cells that will significantly reduce emissions produced while idling.
- Aerodyne Research Inc., based in Billerica, Mass., is fabricating and demonstrating a fast response, laser tool to measure acrolein, a hazardous air pollutant produced by combustion and industrial sources.
Two companies are working on technologies related to hazardous waste monitoring:
- Membrane Technology and Research Inc., based in Menlo Park, Calif., is developing a device that improves the detection accuracy of portable volatile organic compound detectors.
- Eltron Research Inc., of Boulder, Colo., is developing a new, portable, real-time sensor that can be used onsite to measure which PCBs are present in transformer oil and determine their concentrations.
Two companies are working on technologies related to pollution prevention:
- Frontier GeoSciences Inc., located in Seattle, Wash., is developing a technology to reduce persistent elemental mercury from flue gas at coal-fired utilities.
- TDA Research Inc., of Wheat Ridge, Colo., is developing sorbents to remove sulfur from gasoline blends.
One company is finding new ways to detect lead in paint:
- DzymeTech Inc., located in Champaign, Ill., is developing a reliable, low-cost, and user-friendly test kit for lead that is based on recent advances in biotechnology.