U.S. EPA Awards over $599,000 for Small Bay Area Businesses to Develop Wildfire Air Sensors


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

Today, 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. Two of the nine nationwide awardees, KWJ Engineering and AethLabs, are small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area that will receive $599,919 to develop wildfire air pollution sensors.

"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."

“The two Bay Area awardees constitute great examples of small businesses working to provide valuable field data during wildfires,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We look forward to seeing the innovative products and solutions they develop and welcoming their contribution to keeping our firefighters and communities safe in Northern California and across the nation”

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.

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 will be able to be deployed in a variety of ways to measure air pollutants, including being 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 KWJ Engineering Inc. General Manager, CFO Ed Stetter. “We know this technology has the potential to improve the health and well-being of people and the environment, and we look forward to bringing it to market."

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.”

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.

Environmental Protection Agency

Back To News

SBE Northeast

Louisiana Business JournalArchive