SBIR Phase I:Materials for Renewable Energy Systems

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
2150 South 1300 East, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, UT, 84106
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Balakrishnan Nair
(801) 897-1221
Business Contact:
Balakrishnan Nair
(801) 897-1221
Research Institution:
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop new and improved materials for a novel wave energy device. We have developed a patent-pending concept for a no-moving-parts wave energy harvester that uses low-cost magnetostrictive alloys. This technology shows promise as a means for generating and delivering baseload electric power that is competitive with conventional technologies such as coal or gas-fired power plants, without clean energy incentives. Development of magnetostrictive alloys with a better performance to cost ratio than our baseline material could reduce the levelized cost of electricity by up to 50%, which will accelerate the path to commercialization and dramatically increase wave energy's ability to make a meaningful contribution to electricity supply for coastal regions. In this Phase I effort, we will produce and test new alloys that have the potential to achieve this impact and demonstrate the feasibility of using these new materials in the wave energy harvester application through a bench-scale demonstration. These alloys will be tested for mechanical performance and their ability to resist corrosion. Following feasibility demonstration activities in Phase I, we will further optimize the materials, incorporate them into sub-scale wave energy harvesting devices, and conduct detailed system analysis and modeling in Phase II. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to enable wave energy harvesting as a significant contributor to the world's electricity supply. Wave energy has the potential to support an estimated 6.5% of U.S. energy needs, representing approximately $18 billion of annual electricity production. The rapid development and deployment of low-cost, low-carbon, renewable electricity sources to reduce both our dependence on fossil energy sources, and their anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, unquestionably ranks as one of this century's global grand challenges. Such technologies will fuel economic growth, improve human and environmental health, and improve energy security. Oceans constitute a vast but untapped renewable energy source that is particularly well suited to address growing and/or underserved coastal populations, but only if economically viable solutions are developed. Efforts to tap grid-scale energy from the ocean continue to be hampered by high capital costs, high operating & maintenance costs, and low availability. The materials developed through this project will accelerate the commercialization of a novel technology that is expected to have substantially lower costs and higher availability than existing alternatives, enabling a levelized cost of electricity that is competitive with conventional electric power technologies.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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