DOE: Public to Vote on America's Next Top Energy Innovator

The voting among projects from 36 start-up companies will take place in January.

With submissions in for the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it will give the public a chance to vote for the most innovative and promising technologies from the 36 start-up companies that entered. The companies have signed 43 option agreements allowing them to license technologies developed and patented by one of the department's 17 National Laboratories and the Y-12 National Security Complex for a greatly reduced up-front fee of $1,000.

Winning companies based on the public vote and an expert review will be featured at the premier annual gathering of clean energy investors and innovators around the country, the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.

"We've challenged America's entrepreneurs and innovators to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This is about cutting through the red tape and knocking down barriers so that we can take full advantage of America's innovation machine. We are unleashing start-up companies to do what they do best: create new products, new industries, and new jobs."

Profiles of the companies will be posted on http://energy.gov/topinnovator starting in mid-January. According to DOE, these are five of the companies participating in the challenge:

  • Vorbeck Materials (Jessup, Md.) is using a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory-developed method for building tiny chemical structures to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.
  • TrakLok, Inc. (Knoxville, Tenn.) intends to use an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-developed technology for tagging, tracking, locating, and communicating with cargo containers and trailers in transit. The ORNL technology provides an avenue to meet increasing requirements for shipping containers to be "smart boxes" that can be tracked electronically, according to the department, which said TrakLok uses GPS technology and satellite communications as part of its tracking and warning capability and international container locking technology to protect against container tampering, theft, vandalism, and smuggling.
  • IPAT (Nevada, Iowa) is using gas atomization technology developed at Ames Laboratory to make titanium powder with processes that are 10 times more efficient than traditional powder-making methods.
  • e-Chromic LLC (Boulder, Colo.) will use electrochromic technology developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to create a new thin-film window material that reflects sunlight on demand, making windows more energy efficient while reducing cooling costs.

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