EPA SBIR 2017 Phase I Solicitation
NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The official link for this solicitation is: https://www.fedconnect.net/fedconnect
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
Air and Climate
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature that has a strong odor. Indoor exposure can result from formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, building materials, insulation, glues, paints and coatings, permanent press fabrics, cosmetics, dishwashing liquids, gas stoves, kerosene heaters, and cigarette smoke. (https://www.epa.gov/formaldehyde/facts-about-formaldehyde)
Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects, including (at 0.1-0.5 ppm) nasal and eye irritation, neurological effects, and increased risk of asthma and/or allergy, and (at 0.6-1.9 ppm) eczema and changes in lung function. (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=219&tid=39) Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. (http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet)
Exposure to formaldehyde can be reduced by opening windows, using fans to bring in outside air, and removing and/or avoiding products that are sources of formaldehyde emissions. Having a low-cost formaldehyde sensor would enable people to know when mitigation measures are warranted and how effective they are. As a result, EPA is seeking the development and commercialization of such sensors.
- Topic Code 1A: Inexpensive Indoor Formaldehyde Sensor. Develop a simple sensor that can be used in homes and other indoor settings to detect formaldehyde at concentrations in air of 0.05-5.0+ ppm plus or minus 0.01 ppm. The sensor should be hand-held, have internal (downloadable) electronic data storage (be capable of storing at least 2,000 one minute data points), have data calibration capabilities, be able to operate for a minimum of 8 hours, and cost no more than $100.
Methane emissions from human activity are the second largest source of greenhouse gases emitted in the US. Pound for pound the impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. The largest sources of methane emissions are natural gas and petroleum systems, domestic livestock, and landfills for waste from homes and businesses. (https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html). There is significant potential to reduce these emissions (https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/EPAactivities/Non_CO2_US_Summary_Report_SinglePg.pdf). The US government has supported a number of such efforts—e.g., through the Global Methane Initiative (https://www.epa.gov/gmi). In May 2016, EPA issued a new source performance standard to reduce methane emissions from new, reconstructed, and modified sources in the oil and gas industry. (https://www3.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/actions.html).
Identifying fugitive emissions from these sources can be an important step toward leak reduction and other mitigation measures. A methane sensor that could readily and affordably make such measurements in the field would have great utility. As a result, EPA is seeking the development and commercialization of sensors that can detect methane emissions from landfills, oil and gas operations and facilities, livestock operations, and natural gas distribution systems.
- Topic Code 1B: Low-Cost Sensor for Identifying Fugitive Methane Emissions. Develop a sensor that can detect methane at concentrations in air of 2-250 ppm plus or minus 2 ppm. It should be hand-held and provide continuous readouts (it should not require collection of a sample that would be sent to a laboratory for analysis), provide electronic transmittal of the data, have data storage and calibration capabilities, and cost no more than $100 and preferably less than $50.
Executive Order 13329 directs the EPA to properly and effectively assist the private sector in its manufacturing innovation in order to sustain a strong manufacturing sector in the U.S. economy. These innovations often involve engineering and technical solutions that make the manufacturing operation and/or the manufactured product both more environmentally and economically sound.
The EPA is seeking the development and commercialization of innovative technologies that, when compared with currently available technologies, have dramatically better performance, decreased cost of production, and reduced environmental impacts in both production and use.
The production, use, recycle/reuse, and disposal of plastic materials and products pose significant environmental and human health problems. The EPA is seeking innovative greener manufacturing of plastics and greener plastic materials and products.
- Topic Code 2A: Greener Manufacturing of Plastics. Develop for a specific plastic or family of plastics that has significant negative public health and environmental impacts an improved manufacturing process that (a) eliminates the use of one or more toxic chemicals in the process, (b) greatly reduces the amount of energy used to carry out the process, and/or (c) eliminates one or more toxic pollutants that currently result from the process. Comparison with the currently used manufacturing process and assessing the overall life cycle of the plastic(s) are integral to this topic.
- Topic Code 2B: Greener Plastic Materials and Products. Develop for a specific plastic or family of plastics that has significant negative public health and environmental impacts alternative materials and products that (a) do not emit toxic fumes, (b) are not toxic if ingested, (c) rapidly biodegrade in soil and water, and/or (d) are easily recycled and reused. Comparison with the performance and cost of the currently-used plastic materials and products and assessing their overall life cycle are integral to this topic.
Cleaner Manufacturing of Dyes, Paints and Inks
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have extreme environmental persistence, the ability to bioaccumulate, and adverse human health effects (https://www.epa.gov/pcbs). They were used as insulation fluids in electrical transformers and generators, as fluorescent lamp ballast, and in caulk. In 1979 the US banned their production under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
PCBs continue to be generated and released into the environment as the unintended by-products of the manufacturing of certain dyes, paints, and inks (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/121-a86/).
Studies have detected these PCBs in waterways across the U.S. and attribute their presence to this manufacturing by-product¬. This pollution source is causing water impairment and resulting in challenges to states and other entities in meeting water quality standards.
The EPA would like to see the development and use of dye, paint, and ink manufacturing processes that do not produce PCBs, as follows.
- Topic Code 3A: Cleaner Manufacturing Processes for Dyes, Paints, and Inks. Develop cleaner manufacturing processes for dyes, paints, and inks that do not create unintentional undesirable by-products including PCBs. These proposed processes should also consider other lifecycle impacts of their manufacturing process including toxicity of feedstocks, energy consumption/carbon emissions, and end of life, etc.
Understanding the Chemical Composition of Consumer Products
Understanding human exposure to chemicals is central to EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment, but the lack of information on chemical safety remains an issue (https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research). In particular, there is a lack of information on exposure to toxic chemicals used in consumer products. This information gap could potentially be addressed through a citizen science approach by helping consumers understand and be aware of the toxic chemicals in the products they consider purchasing and to consider that information in their buying decisions. In order to increase awareness of human exposure to chemicals in consumer products, EPA is looking for:
- Topic Code 3B: Novel Technologies to Help Consumers Understand the Chemical Composition of Consumer Products. Development of technologies that could scan product UPC codes to inform users of what chemicals are in the products that are of interest to health reasons (e.g., allergens such as nuts or chemicals of concern such as food dyes or BPA). The technology could also indicate whether the products fall into certain categories (e.g., “organic” or “safer choice” https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice). The technology could calculate daily exposure based on typical product usage and other information of value to the consumer. The technology should be geared toward priority chemicals of interest to the EPA, which include endocrine disrupting compounds and phthalates. It should also address commercial sectors of interest to EPA, including consumer care products, cleaning products, and food and beverages.
Water Treatment and Infrastructure
The Office of Water (OW) has the goal of being a catalyst for fostering the protection and sustainability of water resources in the U.S. and around the globe. It has produced two papers that are intended to help achieve this goal. The first is the March 27, 2013, “Blueprint for Integrating Technology Innovation into the National Water Program.” The second is the April 2014 “Promoting Technology Innovation for Clean and Safe Water: Water Technology Innovation Blueprint—Version 2” (EPA 820-R-14-006). These papers identify 10 market opportunities for technology innovation. The following topics in the general areas of drinking water treatment, water infrastructure and point of use water monitoring, address these opportunities.
- Topic Code 4A: Non-Reverse Osmosis Based Desalination Units for Small Communities: Develop non-reverse osmosis based desalination units that can provide sufficient potable water to meet the needs of small communities (those under 10,000 population). The units should be scalable for producing from 100,000 to 1,000,000 gallons per day of potable water. The units should be able to desalinate seawater and brackish water. They should be able to treat water that also contains other chemicals, biological materials, and organic and non-organic materials. They should be able to operate on a continuous basis. They should be small, sturdy, highly resistant to corrosion and other degradation processes, easy to operate and maintain, long-lasting, use little energy, and be affordable in terms of capital and operating costs.
- Topic Code 4B: Non-Toxic Coatings for Water Pipes that Prevent the Growth of Biofilms, Corrosion, Scaling, and Leaching of Lead: Develop non-toxic coatings (not inserts or sleeves) for the inside of water pipes that prevent the growth of biofilms, prevent corrosion and scaling, and prevent the leaching of lead from the pipes. The coatings should be easy to apply as retro-fits. They should be applicable to any size pipe. They should be resistant to scrapes and tears, long-lasting, and affordable.
Lead Test for Tap Water
There are many possible sources of lead in homes—e.g., lead paint, dust, pharmaceuticals, toys, dishes, and glasses. In addition, drinking water can contain lead from lead pipes and natural sources. Lead can cause serious health effects with young children being the most susceptible. (https://www.epa.gov/lead).
While there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, EPA has set an “action level” of 0.015 milligrams per liter (mg/l), which is equal to 15 parts per billion (ppb) (https://www.epa.gov/your-drinking-water/table-regulated-drinking-water-contaminants). If someone finds that they have greater than this concentration of lead in their tap water, they can flush their line before use, only use cold water for eating and cooking, use a water filter, or use bottled water. They should also contact their water provider or local health department. If a water utility finds that more than 10% of sampled households exceed this level, it must take action to reduce the lead concentration throughout the system.
There are test kits on the market for measuring lead in tap water, but often they are expensive, require sending a water sample to a laboratory for analysis, and/or are not accurate. There is a need for a simple, inexpensive means for people to determine the level of lead in their tap water. It could, for example, be a strip of paper or plastic that turns from green to red when the concentration at the tap exceeds the action level.
- Topic Code 4C: Simple Lead Test for Tap Water in Homes. Develop an extremely simple test strip that will indicate whether the lead concentration in tap water exceeds the EPA action level. The strip should give a visual determination within 30 seconds, cost less than $2 per strip, be stable for at least 5 years when stored, and be accurate to within plus or minus 0.5 ppb of the action level of 15 ppb.
Water and Homeland Security
EPA has been designated as the lead homeland security agency for water and is responsible for protecting water systems. A specific area of interest is innovative technologies that can prevent the trapping by and adhesion of contaminants to the inside of pipe walls or other such surfaces in the event that a drinking water system becomes contaminated. To achieve this goal EPA is interested in supporting the development and commercialization of the following innovative technology.
- Topic Code 5A: Water Pipes that Prevent the Growth of Biofilms, Prevent Corrosion and Scaling, and Do Not Contain Lead: Develop water pipes that due to their composition alone (i.e., without the use of coatings or other surface treatment) prevent the growth of biofilms, prevent corrosion and scaling, and do not contain lead. The pipes should be lighter, stronger, more resistant to breaking, longer lasting, easier to install and maintain, and cost no more than currently used water pipes.
Interior Construction Materials
Floors, walls, and ceilings of homes are often made with materials that emit formaldehyde and other organic pollutants that are toxic to the people who live there. Developing non-toxic materials that can perform equally well in these interior construction applications will reduce the exposure to toxic off-gases by the residents. With this in mind, EPA is interested in supporting the development and commercialization of innovative technologies that address the following topic.
- Topic Code 6A: Non-Toxic Interior Construction Materials for Homes: Develop non-toxic alternatives for materials commonly used in the composition of floors, walls, and/or ceilings in homes. The technology must be affordable and at least as rugged and long-lasting as currently used materials.
Exterior Construction Materials
The exterior of buildings could be constructed with greener materials. They could include, for example, solar skins that produce energy for the building, cladding made with materials that are non-toxic, structural elements that weigh less and have less volume, materials that are easily re-cycled and re-used and do not leave parts that have to be sent to landfills or otherwise disposed, etc. As a result, there is a need for the development and commercialization of the following:
- Topic Code 6B: Greener Exterior Construction Materials: Develop construction materials for the exterior of buildings that are greener throughout their life cycle than currently used exterior construction materials. For example, the materials they are made of should be non-toxic, result from less polluting manufacturing processes than currently used, be easier to re-cycle and re-use than currently used materials. They should be stronger; more durable; last longer; weigh less; have lower volume; and cost less to produce, use in construction, re-cycle and re-use, and dispose than currently used materials. Comparison with currently-used materials and a life cycle perspective are integral to this topic.