Argonne National Laboratory

Seven small businesses to collaborate with Argonne to solve technical challenges

By Alex MitchellMay 31, 2017

Seven small businesses have been selected to collaborate with researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory to address technical challenges as part of DOE’s Small Business Vouchers (SBV) program. The collaborations will be in the areas of advanced manufacturing, bioenergy, solar energy and vehicle technologies.

Advanced Manufacturing

GDC Industries, LLC, of Beavercreek, Ohio, will work with Argonne to test and develop a more efficient means of producing covetic alloys. The goal of the project is to achieve a 50 percent increase in electrical conductivity, which would result in a 50 percent decrease in energy loss during power transmission and distribution.

ThermoAura Inc. of Colonie, NY, and Argonne will collaborate in an effort to improve the performance of commercially manufactured thermoelectric materials. Higher-performing thermoelectrics could improve the efficiency of air conditioning and refrigeration systems and provide the possibility of generating electricity from waste heat.


Gevo, of Douglas County, Colo.,the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Argonne will create a gasoline-isobutanol octane blending model for next-generation biofuels.

Solar Energy

Terrafore Technologies, LLC, of Minneapolis, MN, and Argonne will test the reliability of phase change salt capsules for an efficient, compact high-temperature thermal energy storage system for concentrated solar power. The project specifically aims to incorporate storage media, synthesized using advanced materials, in a prototype for performance testing. Such a storage system has the potential to allow concentrated solar power plants to operate during nighttime and cloudy days, thereby cost-effectively improving the overall plant efficiency and its availability to grid operators.

Vehicle Technologies

Advano, of New Orleans, LA will work with Argonne to develop functionalized, efficient, cost-effective silicon nanoparticles, which are in growing demand as the demand for lithium-ion batteries increases.

Phinix, LLC, of Clayton, Mo., and Argonne will work to evaluate and scale up a method for extracting magnesium from magnesium-aluminum scrap metal alloys. This method of sourcing magnesium is energy-efficient, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly and has the potential to reduce the amount of magnesium – the third-most commonly used structural metal – that needs to be imported from foreign countries.

Precision Polyolefins, LLC, of College Park, Md., and Argonne will test the company’s new technology that converts inexpensive and abundant feedstocks derived from natural gas to synthetic oils for use in auto lubricant. This project could potentially improve fuel economy by up to 0.5%, as well as have applications beyond vehicles, such as for industrial gear oils and wind turbine gear oils.

SBV opens up the DOE national labs to American small businesses, enabling them to tap into the intellectual and technical resources they need to overcome critical technical challenges for their advanced energy products and gain a global competitive advantage. Eight DOE national laboratories will receive funding to collaborate with 38 competitively selected small businesses across the country.

Small businesses are the engine of the U.S. economy, and those working on advanced energy technologies play an important role in ensuring the nation’s energy security and independence. The innovative public-private collaborations formed through SBV are ensuring investments in DOE national labs are maintaining and strengthening U.S. competitiveness long-term.

In the first two rounds of the program, 12 DOE national labs received funding to collaborate with 76 small businesses. With this most recent announcement, SBV will have forged collaborations between 114 American small businesses and the national labs. A full list of SBV projects and participating DOE national labs is available at

Argonne received a total of $1.285 million to work with the seven companies. Each small business that is selected for the program is required to provide a 20 percent cost share, and projects will be completed in 12 months or less. Small businesses with fewer than 500 full-time-equivalent employees and that are for-profit. U.S.-based entities were eligible to apply.

SBV is part of the Tech-to-Market Program within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Tech-to-Market is focused on strengthening the innovation ecosystem by eliminating common barriers that prevent market exploration of new energy technologies. To learn more about SBV and current projects, visit

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.