Clean energy catalyst program announces funding awards

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Massachusetts announced a $2.6 million funding program managed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC), MassVentures, and the InnovateMass program, to support clean energy innovation.

The programs aim to ensure early-stage ventures have the resources to advance critical technologies toward marketable products.

The recently announced PV and storage awardees include:

Sol Clarity – Auburndale, MA: Awarded $65,000 for the development of an automated solar panel cleaning product. The Boston University-born project utilizes a small amount of electricity to statically remove dust and soiling from solar panels.

The panel’s surface is charged up to 1200 volts, which moves through three thin fingers, each of a different phase. The alternating phase layers cause the energy to move through the surface as waves, thereby pushing the dust off the panel. Sol Clarity said the power used is a capacitive load, not a resistive one, meaning very little power is used.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Worcester, MA: Awarded $65,000 to support a researcher’s sensor and software system for maximal localized solar generation. The researcher is developing an intelligent cloud motion vector sensor, to detect clouds by implementing machine learning techniques. The aim is to improve short-real-time forecasting of PV system performance as a function of moving clouds.

Vespr V-Clamp for weather resistance.

Image: Vespr Solar

Vespr Solar – Somerville, MA: Awarded $65,000 to test a hurricane-resilient solar panel attachment. The clamp system can be installed beneath modules, with no need for power tools in installation, said Vespr. The company said full panel install can occur in less than 30 seconds per module, and grounding and attachment are completed in a single step. The “V-Clamp” can withstand 900 Lbf for uplift force, and meets NASM 1312-7 vibration standards.

Nth Cycle – Beverly, MA: Awarded $250,000 for the development of cost-effective recycling of metals from lithium-ion batteries. The company uses electro-extraction to recover critical materials from the batteries. Conventionally, these materials are recovered using pyrometallurgy or hydrometallurgy. Pyrometallurgy uses large, carbon-emitting furnaces that consume large amounts of energy, said Nth Cycle. And hydrometallurgy requires the use of harmful acids and solvents that create large masses of environmentally destructive chemical waste. Nth Cycle said the use of electricity in its novel extraction process is clean and modular, making it a more sustainable option.

(Read: “Recycling: a key in the U.S. quest for lithium-ion battery supply chain relevancy“)

The CEC Catalyst fund also provided funds to organizations working on innovations in transportation, maritime shipping, offshore wind, biomass, heating and cooling, energy efficiency, and more.

Since 2010, the CEC Catalyst fund has awarded $7.2 million to 138 new companies and research teams. Past awardees have raised over $244 million in follow-on funding.

InnovateMass has awarded over $8.5 million in funding for demonstration projects since 2013, and leveraged over $10 million in private and public investments in the space. Follow-on investments for these awardees totaled $107 million.

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