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Energy Department Announces Small Business Vouchers

Energy Department Announces Small Business Vouchers
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Thirty-eight small businesses will be collaborating with national laboratories through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Small Business Vouchers pilot program. This is according to an Earth Day press release by the department.

With over 500,000 new businesses starting each month, the EPA is rewarding those that focus on environmental conservation and innovation. This announcement marks a total of 114 small businesses working with national labs.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy, and those working on advanced energy technologies play an important role in ensuring our nation’s energy security and independence,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said during his Earth Day speech. “The Small Business Vouchers program is a great example of how DOE’s innovative public-private collaborations are ensuring our investments in DOE national labs are maintaining and strengthening U.S. competitiveness long-term.”

The effectiveness of a laboratory depends on three variables, including the workers, the process, and the integrity of their equipment. The purpose of the voucher program is to provide small businesses with access to advanced facilities that they would not have otherwise, according to the press release.

Eleven of the projects will focus on advanced manufacturing, making material development more efficient. This includes alloys, semiconductors, extreme UV materials, and other products. Five projects will be working on the efficiency of buildings, developing strategies for reducing commercial energy use. Similar projects will take efficiency initiatives working with vehicles and fuel cells.

While five projects will work with biofuels, several others will develop improved renewable energy methods. This includes the five solar energy projects, improving solar panels and technology, and wind energy, optimizing wind farms. One project focuses on geothermal energy, specifically with the Raft River Geothermal Power Plant.

For these small businesses working to create a cleaner future, a voucher could be a significant research launchpad. In a statement to the Post Register, Tammie Borders, small business relationship manager of the Idaho National Laboratory, said that this opportunity will create opportunities to actually implement what scientists have been working on.

“We are paid by DOE to develop clean energy technologies. By working with industry, it gives us opportunities to take what we’ve done and translate it to the marketplace,” she said. “Another huge benefit is that it helps us refine our research to better meet the marketplace’s needs.”