For Immediate Release: March 20, 2013
Media Contact: Kelly M. Kell - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Awards $1.8 Million for Energy Research

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today awarded $1,815,274 to fund 20 research projects ranging from a low-cost solar photovoltaic tracker to energy storage devices using nanotechnology.

Funds for the projects come from Commission's Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program.

"These small grant projects will help seed innovation and investment in energy technologies throughout California," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. "The EISG program is an innovative model that encourages growth in California's clean tech industry while attracting further investments. The program has led to $1.8 billion in follow on funding, most of which came from private investors."

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

The EISG 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 hardware projects and up to $50,000 for modeling concepts. For information on current funding opportunities, visit: Applicants have until April 26 to submit their applications.

The projects approved were:

Transportation - Electric

  • Andromeda Power, LLC, located in Costa Mesa (Orange County), will receive $95,000 to study adaptive electric vehicle fast charging stations with built-in demand response capabilities.
  • University of California, Davis, was awarded $86,420 to determine the feasibility of using nanotechnology to increase the capacity of portable electricity storage units, reducing the cost of electricity storage.
  • Tour Engine, Inc., a San Diego-based company, will receive $95,000 to study a new crossover valve that will enable an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency by 20 percent.

Transportation - Natural Gas

  • SolidMasters, located in Fullerton, was awarded $93,218 to investigate the use of under-frame mounted CNG tanks in freight and passenger locomotives that meet Federal Railroad safety guidelines.
  • C/e Solutions, Inc., based in West Sacramento, was awarded $94,959 to determine the feasibility of using a catalyst to transform food waste into fuel in a single unit, thus simplifying production and lowering costs.

Natural Gas

  • University of California, Berkeley, will receive $95,000 to explore the use of microwave-enhanced spark plugs to allow leaner combustion capable of increasing efficiency and reducing harmful emissions in natural gas engines.
  • Rhotech Solar of South San Francisco was awarded $66,300 to determine the feasibility of adding a glazing layer to domestic water heaters to improve thermal performance by at least 70 percent.
  • San Diego State University will receive $95,000 to study a pretreatment method for algal biomass used as feedstock for anaerobic digesters to increase methane gas production.
  • University of California, San Diego, was awarded $95,000 to gather existing data on engine performance using a software modeling program to reduce carbon emissions of gas -fuel mixtures.
  • Humboldt State University was awarded $94,993 to investigate the use of biomass to convert waste heat energy into chemical energy.
  • Rolf Olsen of San Diego will receive $94,635 to study a new solar thermal storage device capable of integration with utility scale solar thermal power plants at a low cost. The device would also capture a wide range of solar temperatures, including those too high to be captured by current state-of-the-art molten-salt heat storage devices.


  • Negawatt Consulting, Inc., located in San Diego will receive $95,000 to study a cost-effective control system and strategy for buildings with multiple HVAC units.
  • Torrey Hills Technologies, LLC, based in San Diego, was awarded $94,954 to reduce the costs and increase the light output of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) by using more effective materials in the manufacturing of LEDS.
  • Nano Hydrophobics, located in San Francisco, will receive $95,000 to use nanotechnology to improve the operation of evaporative cooling tower efficiency by 30 percent.
  • University of California, San Diego will receive $95,000 to design and develop an effective software system that increases data center energy efficiency by improving server utilization.
  • Bioenno Tech, LLC, based in Santa Ana (Orange County), was awarded $95,000 to determine the feasibility of designing a powerpack battery device to improve energy efficiency and reliability for residential and commercial renewable energy applications.
  • Sun Synchrony, located in Alameda, will receive $95,000 to investigate the development of a low-cost solar photovoltaic tracker capable of high tracking precision.
  • InterPhase Solar, based in Moorpark (Ventura County), was awarded $95,000 to develop a laser-based tool which can crystallize solar cell films. The tool will increase the efficiency and lower costs of solar photovoltaic systems.
  • Butler Sun Solutions of Solana Beach (San Diego County) was awarded $94,900 to study the viability of a new design for concentrated photovoltaic systems that can increase energy generation and lower energy costs.
  • EZ Green, located in Foster City (San Mateo County) will receive $49,895 to study a low-cost energy management system that provides energy savings for small commercial buildings.

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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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.

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