5/21/2018 — 

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced that two Rhode Island small businesses have won federal grants to help accelerate clean energy breakthroughs.

Aquanis, Inc. of East Greenwich, and Prisere LLC, of Warwick, will each receive nearly $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).  The SBIR program is designed to help kick-start promising scientific discoveries and see them through to producing commercial products with societal benefits.

“I commend Aquanis and Prisere for their hard work and ingenuity in winning these competitive SBIR Phase I awards.  I am pleased federal research dollars are flowing to Rhode Island to help advance cutting-edge research and technology.  I have long supported SBIR funding to try to bring together private sector expertise with federal research and development efforts,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.  “One of the best ways to grow Rhode Island’s economy is by helping companies that are on the cutting edge invest, expand, and hire new workers here at home.  Together, we can help make Rhode Island a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow a company and ensure more small businesses can launch their innovative ideas and products.”

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is awarding Aquanis $149,923 in federal funding to help develop a wind turbine blade surface coating to improve the efficiency of wind turbines by reducing damage that results from lightning.  Lightning damage to wind turbines is one of the largest expenses for wind farm operators and is expected to get worse in the coming years. In this project, an innovative coating will be developed that can be mixed in the blade’s gelcoat to help minimize lightning-caused blade damage.

In 2016, Aquanis won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase I SBIR grant of $224,969 for the development and testing of a device to improve the efficiency and extend the service life of utility-scale wind turbines.

Prisere is being awarded $149,864 in federal funding to develop building energy modeling applications to address the so-called ‘energy paradox’ -- the failure to invest in energy efficiency despite evidence that such investment yields a positive return.  Prisere’s work will help unlock reinsurance capital to finance energy efficiency measures that enhance the resiliency of properties, thereby lowering disaster-related losses.

Nationwide, DOE technology offices awarded a total of 87 Phase I SBIR grants to small businesses in 34 states around the country that demonstrated technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research.  Most Phase I awards are for approximately $150,000 for one year.  If completed successfully, Phase I projects are eligible for Phase II funding.  Phase II funding awards may provide up to $1.5 million, depending on the technology, and an award known as a sequential Phase II award can provide up to an additional $1 million.