Local start-up Yellowstone Energy secures nearly $2.6 million DOE grant

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(Originally published on Teknovation.biz)

One of the inaugural start-ups in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” program just had a big win.

Yellowstone Energy, spotlighted in this recent teknovation.biz article, was one of 10 recipients sharing up to $24 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that was announced this week. In Yellowstone’s case, it will receive almost $2.6 million from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to further advance its nuclear reactor technology.

Yellowstone was co-founded by Matt Ellis and Sam Shaner who met as doctoral classmates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT. Their goal is to develop an advanced nuclear reactor with the potential for faster and lower-cost deployment, at the same time, optimizing safety in order to provide a clean source of baseload electricity.

”We are excited to be chosen for an award under the ARPA-E MEITNER program,” the Co-Founders told us. “This ARPA-E award will allow us to focus on a key enabling component that has the potential to make advanced nuclear reactor designs safer and more efficient.”

Read the full story here.

TennSMART Consortium to accelerate intelligent mobility in Tennessee

A group of 20 public and private partners have launched the TennSMART Consortium to accelerate the development and deployment of intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee. The specific intelligent mobility focus areas identified by the TennSMART Consortium are 1) connected and automated vehicles, 2) heavy duty trucking and freight efficiency, 3) cybersecurity, 4) electric vehicles, and 5) multimodal commuting.

Founding members include Bridgestone Americas, Cummins Filtration, Inc., DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, FedEx Corporation, GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc., Local Motors, Lyft, Miovision, Nissan North America, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Tennessee Tech University, Tennessee Valley Authority, Top Five Inc., University of Memphis, The University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

“Connected and automated vehicles bring new opportunities to help increase safety on roadways across Tennessee,” said TDOT’s Ryan Simpson. “TennSMART brings together industry leaders, research institutions, and government to integrate intelligent mobility advances into long-range plans for the Tennessee transportation system.”

Consortium members will assist with the creation of a technology roadmap and strategic plan for intelligent mobility initiatives in Tennessee. The consortium will address mobility opportunities that individual organizations could not tackle alone.

“Working closely with government and industry is critically important to ensure we are leveraging scientific resources such as high-performance computing and the Department of Energy’s national transportation research facility to solve relevant, complex problems in intelligent mobility,” said ORNL’s Claus Daniel, sustainable transportation program manager. “Our aim is to use cutting-edge research and development to help Tennessee and the nation advance safety and energy savings from increased connectivity.”

TennSMART hosted its inaugural meeting at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy on September 21, 2017. The 2018 TennSMART membership meetings are currently being planned and will be announced soon. Additional members are welcome to join.

Learn more about TennSMART at www.tennsmart.org or send an email to info@tennsmart.org.

TennSMART is a public-private consortium encompassing a growing number of Tennessee and regional organizations working together to develop scientific knowledge and new technologies that could change how America transports people and goods.

Oak Ridge National Lab exec appointed to TVA board

The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Jeff Smith, Executive Vice President for Operations for UT-Battelle and Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to the TVA board of directors.

He was nominated September 21, 2017 by President Donald Trump. The confirmation will become official with the president’s signature and when he is sworn in by a federal judge.

Pictured: Jeff Smith

Smith along with James “Skip” Thompson, III; Kenneth Allen; and A.D. Frazier were among the four members confirmed to join the TVA board. They’ll be serving alongside current board members Richard Howorth, Virginia Lodge, Eric Satz and Ron Walter.

Smith delivered the following opening remarks before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works prior to his confirmation:

Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Jeffrey W. Smith and I am the Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I am honored to have been nominated by President Trump to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.

In 1999, I moved my family to East Tennessee to take on the role of Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The laboratory consumes significant amounts of power, and as the Chief Operating Officer, I know large amounts of reliable, low cost electricity is important to executing the important missions assigned by the Department of Energy to Oak Ridge. The laboratory often works with TVA to help recruit new business to the TVA region, and in my role as a senior executive I have participated in these recruitments and seen first-hand the strength of TVA as a driver of economic development. More personally, I own a home on Norris Lake, one of TVA’s reservoirs. As a result, I understand the complex dynamic between hydropower production, flood management, and recreational use of the water resources under TVA control. Based on my professional and personal experiences with TVA over the last 18 years, it is my belief that to successfully fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life for all who live and work in the Valley, TVA must provide clean, reliable, resilient, low-cost power to our homes and businesses, while protecting the waterways we enjoy, and the air we breathe.

ORNL has a longstanding relationship with the Tennessee Valley Authority, going all the way back to the 1940s and the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project needed a site with ample fresh water and access to tremendous amounts of power. Sixteen miles downstream from TVA’s Norris Damn a site was selected as the home of the secret city that would produce the nuclear materials that accelerated the end of World War II and helped win the Cold War. Simply put, without TVA there would be no Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

During my 18 years at ORNL, I have had the privilege to lead a $400 million modernization effort that has been instrumental in transforming ORNL into the Department of Energy’s largest open science laboratory. I oversee the day to day and operations of an organization with a $1.4 billion annual operating budget, we host approximately 5,000 researchers and associated workers on site, and maintain the infrastructure similar to a small city covering over 4,000 acres.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory operates one of two Department of Energy research reactors. Granted, the High Flux Isotope Reactor is roughly 1/10th the scale of today’s commercial power reactors such as those in the TVA fleet, but the responsibility for this reactor has taught me something about the importance of a strong nuclear safety culture.

I have also had the opportunity to be involved with TVA in several economic development recruitments in which the laboratory has partnered with the State of Tennessee, local municipalities, and TVA to attract new companies to the region. I can tell you that low cost, clean and reliable power is always a consideration in site selection. My personal experience tells me TVA is dedicated to working with local and state governments to encourage economic development and create jobs in the region and this is something that I will continue to support.

I have had a long standing relationship with Battelle Memorial Institute, a not-for-profit company that specializes in managing several R&D laboratories. I have served on the governing Boards for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Idaho National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. As a result, I’ve been involved in the recruitment and selection of several laboratory directors and in the event there is a change in leadership at TVA during my appointment, I believe I can add something to this process.

I have interacted with TVA as an industrial user, as a partner in infrastructure expansion, and to promote economic development. These engagements have given me useful insight into the breadth and depth of TVA’s operations, and to its importance for our region. I believe my background and experience has prepared me for the challenge and responsibility of joining the TVA board.

If confirmed, I am committed to working with my fellow board members and TVA staff to ensure that TVA continues to fulfill its mission to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley. I appreciate your consideration of my nomination and thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

Innovation Crossroads’ cohort one teams hiring research fellow

Innovation Crossroads has posted a job opening for interested applicants.

Each of the three teams within Cohort One are hiring a research fellow for a year.

Innovation Crossroads is a program based at ORNL that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace.

Anna Douglas with SkyNano Technologies, Mitch Ishmael with Active Energy Systems, and Matthew Ellis and Samuel Shaner with Yellowstone Energy were selected to transform their ideas into clean energy companies with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and Launch Tennessee provide non-exclusive business mentoring services to the Innovation Crossroads innovators.

The Innovation Crossroads Applied Research Experience provides a mentored opportunity for pre-doctoral scientists and engineers to apply their education in support of an impact-driven research and development project at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Through participation in this prestigious program, participants will:

  • Be responsible for the planning and completion of a research-oriented project with direct impact on critical technical development milestones
  • Gain deep insights into energy technology commercialization through mentorship and participation in business development activities
  • Help develop innovative technologies that will have a real impact on the U.S. economy, environment, and society

Participants will receive a stipend to be determined by ORNL and the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy. Stipends are typically based on the participant’s academic standing, discipline and experience. In addition, participants will receive a stipend supplement to offset the costs of health insurance.

To read more about the eligibility requirements and to apply for this opportunity, click here.

Pre-applications open for second cohort of Innovation Crossroads program

Energy entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to pre-apply to participate in the second Innovation Crossroads cohort.

The program at Oak Ridge National Lab, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, is providing a runway for innovators who will disrupt the energy economy.

Innovation Crossroads matches aspiring early stage energy researchers with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to commercial applications.

The first cohort of entrepreneurs was announced earlier this year.

Previous story: ORNL unveils five entrepreneurs, four companies in inaugural “Innovation Crossroads” cohort

Through an annual call, up to five entrepreneurs will be selected to work at Oak Ridge National Lab and transform their ideas and bring new ideas to the lab with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Innovators will receive a fellowship that covers living costs, benefits and a travel stipend for up to two years, plus substantial financial support for collaborative research and development at ORNL. Each innovator will also be paired with a doctoral student from the University of Tennessee’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education for assistance with market research and customer discovery.

To pre-apply for the second Innovation Crossroads cohort, click here. The official application will open Tuesday, September 19.