Six entrepreneurs announced for Cohort 5 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

The fifth cohort of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Innovation Crossroads” program operated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was announced yesterday, and the program will welcome six new innovators this summer.

The six will be working in key sectors vital to the nation’s future – advanced manufacturing, building technology, and clean energy, and two have ties to the University of Tennessee (UT). One is a graduate of UT, Knoxville while the second has licensed intellectual property through the UT Research Foundation.

Sponsored overall by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, Cohort 5 also features two other sponsoring entities. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is returning for a third year as a program sponsor for one of the innovators who is focused on energy-related research. This year, DOE’s Building Technologies Office will also sponsor one of the innovators, whose research focuses on energy-efficient building.

“We look forward to welcoming this new cohort of innovators to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus and the Innovation Crossroads program,” said Moe Khaleel, ORNL’s Interim Deputy Director for Science and Technology and Projects. “These diverse entrepreneurs are developing technologies that will significantly enhance manufacturing, transportation, building technologies and energy applications across the U.S. and will be part of our place-based innovation in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area with opportunities to work with great firms in the Southeast.”

As with previous cohorts in the program, the innovators receive a two-year fellowship which includes a cost-of-living stipend, comprehensive business development plan assistance, and up to $200,000 in funding to use on collaborative research and development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Look for an upcoming series on the new “Innovation Crossroads” participants in, where we will interview the Founders on their research and their goals during the two years that they will be here. We will also provide periodic updates on the progress of members of previous cohorts.

The innovators for Cohort 5 are as follows, in alphabetical order:

Caleb Alexander of DayLyte Batteries, a start-up working to build a sodium ion membrane for a more high-energy, low-cost sodium-air battery that would make electric vehicles more affordable, as well as allowing the industry to better expand into solar and wind energy. Alexander holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Texas.

Sam Evans of Unbound Water Technologies who is researching a carbon-supported magnetic nano-absorbent. Evans’ system is a water filtration process that uses magnetic iron nanoparticles to bind to contaminants in the water, which can then be filtered out with magnets. Evans holds a doctorate in energy science and engineering from UTK.

Tommy Gibbons whose company named Hempitecture is researching energy-efficient, carbon-negative, bio-based insulation for buildings. The hemp fiber insulation used is non-toxic, high-performing, and carbon-negative to make. Gibbons holds an undergraduate degree in public policy from Princeton University and is a certified green associate from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Shuchi “SK” Khurana of Addiguru, a start-up that is doing real-time monitoring of metal additives in manufacturing. Khurana has created an artificial intelligence platform that determines defects based on images collected during the manufacturing process. Khurana holds master’s degrees in both science and business administration from Ohio State University.

Forrest Shriver of Sentinel Devices who is working in database construction using machine learning for cyber-attack detection. The automatic learning system builds asset-specific operational databases which can be used in several industries. Shriver holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida. We spotlighted the start-up that has UTK ties in this article from January.

Philip Stuckey of FC Renew, a company that is building a 3D hierarchical separator and catalyst support system for fuel cells. Stuckey’s bi-polar plate separators create a structure that meets the demands for fuel cell stackability while also extending the lifetime of the fuel cell’s electrocatalyst. Stuckey holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

Applications for Cohort Six of “Innovation Crossroads” open in Fall 2021.

Click here for the full news release from the DOE.


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