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Two West Knoxville companies only Tennessee winners of NASA SBIR awards

NASA has announced nearly $50 million in awards to small businesses and research institutions to support space technology, and the only two winners in Tennessee are located in West Knoxville. Both received Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards.

  • MillenniTEK LLC received an award for its proposal, titled “Regolith Dust and Radiation-Tolerant Bearing.” According to the project abstract, a radiation-resistant and superhard material for dust-resistant mechanical bearing applications on the lunar surface will be tested and demonstrated under this project. This new material is more than 30 percent lighter than the chrome steel commonly used for bearings, and about 15 percent lighter than Nitinol, which NASA has been recently investigating for bearing applications.
  • Ultrasonic Technology Solutions received an award for its proposal titled “Ultra-Fast Ultrasonic Clothes Washer/Dryer Combination for Moon, Mars and ISS Applications.” The project involves technology developed by Ayyoub Momen while at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and licensed to Ultrasonic Technology Solutions. Under the SBIR, the company will develop a transformative combo washing and drying machine for space application where the ultrasonic components are the backbone of the technology. Ultrasonic Technology Solutions is proposing to use mechanical washing methods using ultrasonic cleaners for the washing cycle. Also, we are going to use our direct contact ultrasonic drying for the drying cycle.

According to the NASA news release, a total of 333 proposals from 257 small businesses and 41 research institutions – including 10 Minority Serving Institutions – will be awarded first-round funding for technology development. The funding comes through either the SBIR or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The investments are spread out over 39 states and the District of Columbia. Each proposal team will receive $150,000 – a 20 percent increase over previous years’ funding. Phase I SBIR contracts are awarded to small businesses and last for six months, while Phase I STTR contracts are awarded to small businesses in partnership with a research institution and last for 13 months.

Look for an upcoming article that will provide an update on some of the work of Ultrasonic Technology Solutions.

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