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Five entrepreneurs selected for second “Innovation Crossroads” cohort at ORNL

innovation-crossroadsOne group is almost halfway through the two-year program, and the newest cohort in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” program has just been announced.

The five individuals come from four universities and were selected after a national application and a merit-based review process. Two hail from the State University of New York at Albany and one each came from Duke, Georgia Tech, and the University of South Florida.

They join cohort one that includes three start-ups most recently profiled in this four-part series on teknovation.biz (Part 1 that was an overview of the program; Part 2 that spotlighted Mitch Ishmael of Active Energy Systems; Part 3 that described Yellowstone Energy, a partnership of Sam Shaner and Matt Ellis; and Part 4 that focused on Anna Douglas’ SkyNano Technologies).

“Innovation Crossroads” is one of three somewhat similar initiatives under the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program.” The other efforts are based at Lawrence Berkeley and Argonne National Laboratories.

Collectively, the three programs are designed to provide unique support to science-based start-ups that helps advance game-changing technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. The two-year fellowship provides a cost-of-living stipend, comprehensive business development plan assistance, and up to $350,000 to use on collaborative R&D at ORNL, the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory.

“We are pleased to welcome the second group of entrepreneurs to ‘Innovation Crossroads,’” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “We look forward to supporting these young innovators as they work to advance their early science to benefit American manufacturing and clean energy.”

The entrepreneurs, their projects, and a brief description follows:

  • Donald DeRosa: High Voltage Electrolytes for Ultracapacitors – DeRosa is developing a high voltage electrolyte to significantly lower the cost and size of ultracapacitor modules. The resulting lower cost, smaller modules can be used in tandem with lithium ion batteries to dramatically improve the efficiency, range, and longevity of hybrid and electric vehicles. DeRosa is a doctoral candidate in nanoscience at the State University of New York at Albany and chief technology officer of Eonix.
  • Shane McMahon: Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing of Highly Crystalline Thin-Film Semiconductor Substrates – McMahon is developing a novel thin-film semiconductor recrystallization process that grows highly crystalline silicon and germanium thin-films as precursor substrates for flexible electronic devices. These flexible, large-area substrates will serve as a platform technology for thin-film transistors, sensors, displays, lighting, and photovoltaics. McMahon is a doctoral candidate in nanoengineering at the State University of New York at Albany and is founder and chief executive officer of Lux Semiconductors.
  • Justin Nussbaum: Large Area Projection Sintering – Nussbaum is developing a manufacturing grade, additive manufacturing (AM) system called Large Area Projection Sintering (LAPS) that offers many advantages over new and traditional AM technologies. With LAPS, components can be economically created with increased production rates, reduced peak processing temperatures and extended exposure times, enabling processing of a broader range of materials while also providing superior mechanical properties. Nussbaum is a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida.
  • Megan O’Connor: Electrochemical Recovery of Rare Earth and Specialty Elements – O’Connor is developing a recycling technology that utilizes carbon nanotube membranes for enhanced separation and recovery of solid rare earth and specialty elements (RESE) oxides. This technology will provide a high-throughput electrochemical recovery device for recycling RESE as an alternative to the conventional energy-intensive extraction and refining processes currently used to obtain these metals for manufacturing. O’Connor holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and is co-founder and chief technology officer of Nth Cycle.
  • Matthew Smith: Thermally Conductive 3D Printing Filaments – Smith’s new class of high thermal conductivity plastic composite material aims to improve heat dissipation, allowing for metal replacement and light-weighting, cost and component reductions, and improved performance and reliability. These materials also exhibit the unique ability to be 3D printed, allowing thermal engineers to rapidly and cheaply prototype multi-functional thermal solutions and enabling the design of heat transfer products that cannot be manufactured using traditional methods. Smith holds a PhD in materials science and engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is co-founder and chief technology officer of TCPoly.

As it announced cohort two, ORNL also said that recruitment for cohort three will begin this fall.


Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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