Four “Innovation Crossroads” companies receive AFWERX contracts

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

Four of the companies participating in the “Innovation Crossroads” program through Oak Ridge National Laboratory were awarded contracts from the U.S. Air Force.

The contracts are through the Air Force’s AFWERX program that is focused on expanding technology, talent, and transition partnerships for “rapid and affordable commercial and military capability,” according to the program website. AFWERX has three branches, each focusing on a different topic for the program. AFVentures focuses on helping the Air Force develop commercially viable innovations. The contracts are offered through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Each of the companies received $50,000 for the contract. They were awarded as part of the third-round of 2020 contracts through the AFWERX program.

Two of the contracts were given to “Innovation Crossroads” Cohort 2 alums.

Don DeRosa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eonix, said he is using the funds to prototype his non-flammable high-temperature batteries in larger formats. DeRosa is also working to identify grid storage customers within the Air Force. He received an STTR from AFWERX.

“This technology will help the Air Force safely deploy battery grid storage units that will reduce their dependence on local grids and fossil fuel shipments, which in turn will improve their energy resiliency and reduce their reliance on supply chains,” DeRosa said. “In contrast to traditional flammable lithium-ion batteries, this technology will ensure the Air Force can harness the energy storage benefits of batteries on their bases without introducing a significant operational hazard to the Warfighter.”

Shane McMahon, Co-Founder and CEO of Lux Semiconductors, received an SBIR from the program. Lux Semiconductors makes flexible electronic components.

“The funds will be used to complete three technical objectives, including customer discovery for radiation-tolerant microelectronics, identifying and selecting commercially available radiation protective coatings, and analyzing expected size and weight savings by transitioning from printed circuit board based designs to System-on-Foil equivalents,” he said.

The other two contracts were given to members of Cohort 3 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program.

William Fitzhugh, CEO and Founder of American Nanotechnologies, Inc., also received an STTR contract. His company purifies nanomaterials for use in electronics. Fitzhugh said he is using the funds to develop technology for sensors based on those materials.

“Our AFWERX work is focused on leveraging our unique supply of nanomaterials to develop novel chemical and biological sensors for the Air Force. The end goal is to provide Warfighters with a lightweight platform for detecting hazards in their missions–from austere threats to toxic industrial compounds.”

Hicham Ghossein, Founder and CEO of Endeavor Composites, works in carbon composites and received an STTR contract. Ghossein said he is using his composites to build heat-resistant shielding for Hypersonic Vehicles used in the Air Force. The materials need to be designed to withstand temperatures of more than 1200 degrees Celsius.

“We are leveraging our fast-to-infuse, low-cost, highly drapable nonwoven fabric made with the same type of reinforcement as traditionally used fabric to build complex geometries Carbon-Carbon composites that are manufactured at a lower cost than traditional composites,” Ghossein said. “These innovative composites can carry both nonwoven (as a bulking compound) and woven on the surface for aerodynamic requirements.”


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