TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” forum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation

NOTE: Originally published on Teknovation.biz

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nearly 80 people registered for the “Opportunities in Energy” forum organized by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).

Held at The Square Room in Downtown Knoxville, the theme of this year’s annual event was entrepreneurship and innovation. The nearly three-hour program featured a fireside chat with two leaders in the region that I had the privilege of moderating as well as pitches from three start-ups in the Energy Mentor Network coordinated by TAEBC and funded by Launch Tennessee.

Beverly Davenport, the new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), comprised the fireside panel that I facilitated. The focus was on the foundations their institutions have established, the plans they have for the future to help Tennessee build on its national reputation for excellence in the advanced energy sector, and how their innovation efforts can help create new businesses and expand existing ones.

Read the full story here.

UT Earns Top EPA Award

The University of Tennessee has received a 2017 green power leadership award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment to advancing the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of those sources in the United States and advance the American green power market.

The EPA presented UT Sustainability Manager Preston Jacobsen an Excellence in Green Power Use Award at the 2017 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in New York City in October.

“This is UT’s top environmental and sustainability award to date, and we look forward to achieving a higher standing in the years to come as our campus moves toward a more sustainable place to learn, live, and work,” Jacobsen said.

In addition, UT ranks 35th on EPA’s National Top 100 list, and first on the Top 30 College and University list. Each list highlights EPA Green Power Partners using the most renewable energy annually as of July 2017.

“Being honored among the nation’s top green power users is affirmation that our program is among the nation’s best, but to receive this latest award is quite an accomplishment for our university,” Jacobsen said. “It places UT among the ranks of Google, Apple, and Microsoft as organizations who not only champion sustainability but put these technologies into action.”

UT was one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive an Excellence in Green Power Use Award.

UT is currently purchasing nearly 246 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 95 percent of the organization’s electricity use.

UT became an EPA Green Power Partner in 2005.

Read the complete story here.

ORNL Office of Science technologies recognized as 2017 R&D Magazine Award Finalists

The Department of Energy Office of Science’s national laboratories had 33 technologies recently chosen as 2017 R&D 100 Award Finalists. Of those 33 technologies, several were from Oak Ridge National Laboratory with an advanced energy application.

Each year, R&D Magazine recognizes the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential. The coveted awards – now in their 55th year – are presented annually in recognition of exceptional new products, processes, materials, or software that were developed throughout the world and introduced into the market the previous year.

These esteemed technologies include:

  1. ACMZ Cast Aluminum Alloys

Lightweight, high-temperature aluminum alloys will play a vital part in improving automotive fuel efficiency in the future. Common commercial alloys soften rapidly at high temperatures, limiting how manufacturers can use them in vehicles. In contrast, alloys that can withstand elevated temperatures are prohibitively expensive and difficult to cast. ACMZ cast aluminum alloys are affordable, lightweight superalloys. They withstand temperatures of almost 100 degrees Celsius, more than current commercial alloys, while providing equivalent mechanical performance. Their properties can meet the varied demands of different automotive engine components. They are also strong enough for manufacturers to use in next-generation high-efficiency combustion engines.

2. SAFIRE – Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE) improves the safety of plug-in electric vehicle batteries. In typical automotive lithium-ion batteries, the liquid electrolyte (which conducts the electrical current) poses a fire risk in high-speed collisions. To minimize this risk, current plug-in electric vehicles use heavy shielding that reduces their range and efficiency. In contrast, the SAFIRE electrolyte eliminates this risk by using an additive that transforms the liquid electrolyte to a solid upon impact. By blocking contact with electrodes, it prevents short circuiting and a potential fire. Under normal conditions, SAFIRE performs as well as conventional electrolytes. In vehicles, it has the potential to significantly reduce electric vehicle weight and increase travel range.

3. Low Cost Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber has historically been a high-priced specialty material, which has limited its widespread use. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Low Cost Carbon Fiber (LCCF) production method makes high-strength carbon fiber comparable to commercially available material at approximately half the finished product cost. It is also much faster than other methods and reduces energy usage by about 50 percent. Manufacturers can also combine LCCF with plastic materials to produce lightweight composites. This product can potentially make carbon fiber an affordable material for high-volume, cost-sensitive applications such as fuel-efficient automobiles and wind turbine blades.

4. ACE: The Ageless Aluminum Revolution

Lightweight materials such as aluminum alloys can help substantially increase the efficiency of vehicles and airplanes. ACE is a new family of aluminum alloys that exhibits better performance at high temperatures and is easier to cast than previous alloys. By combining aluminum and cerium, or a similar element, with traditional alloying materials, ACE is better able to resist corrosion and be stretched into wires. ACE alloys remain stable at temperatures 300 degrees Celsius higher than leading commercial alloys. They can also withstand 30 percent more tension before they deform. Manufacturers can successfully cast ACE alloys in a wide variety of structural components without energy-intensive heat treatments. Eliminating these treatments could significantly increase production output and reduce manufacturing costs in some cases by almost 60 percent.

Click here for more ORNL technologies nominated as R&D 100 Award Finalists.

Energy Mentor Network Company: Peroxygen Systems

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is featuring the companies benefiting from the Energy Mentor Network program, which offers industry specific expertise from experienced mentors.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

This week TAEBC is highlighting EMN company Peroxygen Systems. Peroxygen Systems is a clean chemistry company developing breakthrough technology for on-site hydrogen peroxide production. The startup is working toward fundamentally disrupting the existing manufacturing and distribution model for hydrogen peroxide. Peroxygen Systems’ on-demand electrolyzer can reduce the cost of producing hydrogen peroxide by over 50%, while also completely eliminating the cost and safety issues associated with shipping and handling of high concentration hydrogen peroxide.

TAEBC is currently accepting applications from Tennessee advanced energy companies to apply for the Energy Mentor Network program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Startups” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.

TDEC hosts Volkswagen Diesel Settlement public informational sessions

In 2015, Volkswagen (VW) publicly admitted that it had secretly and deliberately installed a defeat device- software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators- in approximately 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 motor vehicles containing 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel engines. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against VW, alleging the company had violated the federal Clean Air Act.

$2.9 billion in settlement funds from the resulting 2.0 and 3.0 liter partial settlements with the federal government will be placed into an Environmental Mitigation Trust, which will fund environmental mitigation projects that reduce NOx emissions. Trust funds will be allocated among beneficiaries (states, certain territories, and tribes) based on the number of impacted VW vehicles in their jurisdictions.

Tennessee’s initial, combined allocation under the approved 2.0 and 3.0 liter partial settlements is $45,759,914.40. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has been identified by Governor Bill Haslam as the Lead Agency for purposes of administering Tennessee’s trust allocation.

TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) is planning to hold a VW Diesel Settlement public information session in Memphis. This meeting will provide an overview of the VW Diesel Settlement, the Environmental Mitigation Trust, TDEC’s process for developing a proposed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for Tennessee, and an overview of the types of eligible mitigation actions that can be funded by Tennessee’s Environmental Mitigation Trust allocation.

The following public information session will be free and open to the public. Please note that registration is required due to space restrictions. Should there be additional demand and interest, TDEC OEP will coordinate and host additional meetings in other locations throughout the State.

  • November 17, 1:30pm – 3pm CT – Memphis Public Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue Memphis, TN. Register here.

Two public information sessions have already taken place in Nashville and Knoxville.