For Immediate Release: November 14, 2012
Media Contact: Kelly M. Kell - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Awards $1.5 Million for Energy Research

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today awarded $1,508,507 to fund 18 research projects ranging from sensors used to forecast disruptions in the electricity grid to computer programs to advance the framework for plug-in electric vehicles in California.

"These projects will increase the energy efficiency of buildings, raise renewable energy production, and improve the reliability of the state's electricity grid," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller.

The projects approved by the Commission include research in the areas of electricity, natural gas, and transportation.

Funds for the projects come from Commission's Research and Development program's Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program. The program provides funding to small businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals, and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. The program provides up to $95,000 for projects.

The projects approved were:


  • CSU, Long Beach will receive $49,999 to design and develop a device which can control the flow of energy used by renewable energy generators, such as photovoltaic cells.
  • San Francisco-based SmartSense Energy, will receive $95,000 to study the use of wireless sensors in underground electricity cables. The project aims to develop a system for predicting and detecting underground cable faults using mirco sensors developed in partnership with Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center.
  • Davis Energy Group, located in Davis, was awarded $75,000 to develop a low leakage retrofittable outside air damper for residential cooling systems.
  • San Diego-based Pacific Integrated Energy, Inc. will receive $94,328 to build a proof-of-concept solar energy converter which uses meta-material as a near perfect absorber of light to aid photovoltaic cells. If successful, this device will create a new class of solar cell.
  • David S. Watson of San Anselmo (Marin County) was awarded $95,000 to study a wireless pressure optimization system designed to measure air duct pressure and provide fast demand response and increase energy efficiency.
  • Solar Stream Innovations, based in Chino Hills, was awarded $95,000 to study the use of a vacuum insulated heat pipe to increase the heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency of a rooftop solar combined heating and power system.
  • Claremont-based Policy Consultants, LLC, will receive $49,840 to develop an electricity monitoring and analysis software program to identify space conditioning mechanical failures and increase the energy efficiency of residential buildings.
  • California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo will receive $94,924 to develop a low-cost Nitrous Oxide (NOx) control method. The project will demonstrate a new and potentially low-cost method for reducing NOx emissions from small scale generators and boilers that use biogas.
  • Erik Page & Associates, Inc. of Fairfax (Marin County) was awarded $95,000 to determine the feasibility of an innovative lighting control system for daylight harvesting, a technology which automatically reduces lighting in buildings when an adequate level of daylight is present.
  • Los Angeles-based Ballast Energy, Inc., received $95,000 to investigate the feasibility of building low cost, large format, lithium-ion batteries to store electricity for the energy grid
  • Modoc Analytics, LLC, located in Palo Alto, will receive $95,000 to build a real-time cell assessment tool (RCAT). The RCAT prototype aims to detect photovoltaic module failures in large-scale solar arrays.

Natural Gas

  • Protomatrix of Oak Hills (San Bernardino County) will receive $94,989 to demonstrate an efficient hydraulic air-compressing wind turbine for power generation. The technology aims to convert natural gas into electricity.
  • University of California, San Diego was awarded $94,906 for a project to determine the potential methane production from an advanced anaerobic bioreactor recycling system.

Transportation - Electric

  • University of California Davis was approved $94,906 to develop a computer program that can be used by electric utilities, state, and local governments to support the development of plug-in electric vehicles.
  • Romny Scientific, Inc., based in San Francisco, will receive $94,691 to develop a new tubular energy generation module that reduces vehicle emissions and improves fuel economy by converting exhaust heat into electricity.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara will receive $49,898 to examine the practicability of using solar photovoltaic technology to generate electricity for battery-powered vehicles.

Transportation - Natural Gas

  • Los Angeles based, Discovery Fuel Technologies, LLC, was awarded $95,000 to study the production of an oxygenate fuel which would make possible the use of natural gas with diesel engines.
  • University of California, San Diego will receive $94,932 to develop a control system which could reduce pollutants from compressed natural gas engines.

The Commission's Research and Development program supports public interest research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace. Funds will be paid out to grantees upon receipt of invoices.

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