U.S. EPA Awards $1.19 million for Small California Businesses to Develop Environmental Technologies


A total of $3 million was awarded nationwide, with four of the nine awardees in California

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3 million in funding for nine small businesses across the country to further develop and commercialize technologies to protect the environment. The funded technologies are focused on clean and safe water, air quality monitoring, land revitalization, sustainable materials management, and safer chemicals. In California, four businesses were awarded a total of $1,199,919 for the development of environmental technologies.

"We must meet our country’s most pressing environmental concerns with innovative solutions," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "The funding provided by EPA will allow these small businesses to pursue solutions to environmental challenges, including removing PFAS from water and soil and monitoring air quality during wildfires."

“California businesses are developing cutting-edge technologies to help protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud.

These nine small businesses are each receiving Phase II funding of up to $300,000 from EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Phase II companies that obtain qualifying third-party investments are also eligible for a commercialization option which provides an additional $100,000. These companies were each previously awarded a Phase I contract of $100,000 to develop innovative environmental technologies and are now receiving a Phase II award to further advance and commercialize the technology.

In San Francisco, AethLabs is working to develop an integrated black carbon, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide sensor platform for real-time identification and analysis of emissions from wildfires. This real-time monitoring device can help identify the type and intensity of emissions from wildfires under rapidly changing conditions.

"AethLabs is excited to continue development of its multi-sensor, multi-pollutant air quality instrumentation platform to meet the needs of wildfire emission and ambient air monitoring,” said Jeff Blair, CEO of AethLabs. “This Phase II SBIR will help AethLabs to further develop this technology which we intend to commercialize and rapidly bring to market."

KWJ Engineering Incorporated, a Newark, Calif. based business, is developing and field-testing a lightweight sensor package that monitors air quality and pollution from wildland fires. These sensors can be deployed in a variety of ways to measure air pollutants from wildfires. This technology could be worn by personnel, used for perimeter monitoring or deployed on drones.

"We are extremely pleased to receive this grant and excited to continue developing this advanced, low cost environmental monitoring technology,” said Ed Stetter, KWJ Engineering Inc. General Manager, CFO. “We know this technology has the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of people and the environment, and we look forward to bringing it to market."

Intellisense Systems, Inc., of Torrance, Calif., is developing a portable sensing device to measure and track wildland fire air pollution. This sensor is a small, solar-powered unit capable of storing and reporting data from remote locations. The unit does not require hardline power and enables the user to deploy a robust network of air-quality sensors rapidly and at low cost.

“Persistent air-quality monitoring has become more urgent and important as the incidence of wildfires continue to increase near populated areas,” said Frank Willis, CEO of Intellisense Systems. “We appreciate the financial commitment from the EPA, through the SBIR program, to further this technology development and bridge this gap in the current pollutant monitoring ecosystem.”

In San Diego, 2WiTech Solutions, LLC (2WiTech) will use funds to optimize and scale-up a low-cost, field-ready sensing technology to detect trace amounts of certain potentially harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water. By using a unique analytical technique, this device will measure the concentration of these fluorocarbons in water down to 10 parts per trillion.

“To overcome drawbacks associated with current lab-based PFAS water tests (high cost and long turnaround time), 2WiTech develops a low-cost fieldable sensing technology for detecting trace amounts of PFOA and PFOS in water down to 10 ppt.” said Qingwu (King) Wang, President of 2WiTech.    “This EPA funding will expedite the development and commercialization processes and quickly bring this technology to market.”

EPA’s SBIR funding promotes local economies by empowering small businesses across the country to create jobs while developing novel environmental technologies. Phase II funding is specifically aimed at supporting these companies to bring their technologies to the marketplace. Since 1982, EPA’s SBIR program has provided over $189 million to 635 small businesses to develop technologies to solve the most pressing environmental problems. Approximately 29% of funded projects reported a growth in sales that exceeded five times the initial EPA funding.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, a competitive award-based program that supports small businesses to explore technological solutions with the ultimate goal of successful commercialization of those innovations. This program stimulates the economy while meeting the country’s research and development needs.

For more information on EPA's SBIR Phase II recipients, visit: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/665/records_per_page/ALL

Learn more about EPA’s SBIR program: https://www.epa.gov/sbir

Learn more about the Federal SBIR Program: www.SBIR.gov

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.

SOURCE: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/us-epa-awards-119-million-small-california-businesses-develop-environmental

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