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EPA Awards two $100k contracts to Wheat Ridge and Steamboat Springs companies for innovative environmental technology

$1.6 Million in awards go to small businesses to support the development of environmental technologies

Contact Information: 
Lisa McClain-Vanderpool (

(Denver, Colo. – Sept. 19, 2017) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $1.6 million in funding for small businesses to develop technologies that will help protect human health and the environment by detecting chemicals in the air, ensuring cleaner water, and creating greener materials.

“EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program is awarding funding to these small businesses because they have demonstrated the potential to create technologies that will improve our environment and our economy,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These technologies are focused on creating cutting-edge products that can help solve today’s complex environmental problems and enhance economic growth.”

These companies are receiving Phase I contracts from EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which awards contracts annually through a two-phase competition. Companies compete for a Phase I award of $100,000 by submitting research that addresses key environmental issues. After receiving a Phase I award, companies are eligible to compete for a Phase II award of $300,000 to further develop and commercialize the technology.

TDA Research, Inc., of Wheat Ridge, Colorado is awarded funding for an innovative water desalination system for small communities. In many parts of the country groundwater withdrawals exceed what is put back into the ground, causing groundwater-level declines, reductions to the volume of groundwater in storage, and lower stream flows and lake levels. “Development of brackish groundwater and seawater as alternative water sources can help address concerns about the future availability of potable water,” said Girish Srinivas, TDA Partner and Vice president. 

Reactive Innovations, based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado was also awarded $100,000 to develop an inexpensive hand-held monitor for measuring fugitive methane emissions. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted after carbon dioxide, however, on a pound-to-pound comparison methane has a 25 times greater impact on climate change than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. According to Dr. Michael C. Kimble, President of Reactive Innovations, “International agencies across the world are developing a global network of sensors to measure greenhouse gas emissions in support of climate change. Reactive’s methane sensors support the US Climate Action Plan to accurately characterize methane emission sources helping to further design mitigation strategies."

Other SBIR Phase I recipients include:

  • Giner, Inc., Newton, Mass., for an inexpensive formaldehyde sensor for indoor air quality application

  • Vuronyx Technologies, Woburn, Mass., for a robust, energy efficient, and cost effective technology for water desalination

  • Ecovative Design, LLC, Green Island, N.Y., to grow fungal resin for manufacturing novel, formaldehyde-free wood particleboard

  • NanoSafe, Inc., Blacksburg, Va., for a mobile analytical platform for lead detection in drinking water

  • Metna Co., Lansing, Mich., for zero emission reconstituted wood panels for building interiors

  • Vaporsens, Inc. Salt Lake City, Utah, for indoor formaldehyde detection by a low-cost chemical sensor based on organic nanofibers

  • iSense, LLC, Mountain View, Calif., to develop an inexpensive, portable optical sensor to monitor indoor formaldehyde levels

  • KWJ Engineering, Inc., Newark, Calif., to create a simple lead test for drinking water safety & to create an inexpensive low-power, nano-sensor-based measurement of fugitive methane emissions

  • Instrumental Polymer Technologies, LLC, Westlake Village, Calif., to develop a completely sustainable plastic that is uniquely a recyclable thermoset resin

  • BioInspira, Inc., Berkeley, Calif., to develop a film that binds to natural gas to provide an accurate, small, power-efficient, and low-cost gas sensor for surveyors and leak inspection crews from the gas and oil industry

  • SPEC Sensors, LLC, Newark, Calif., to create a low cost sensor to reduce exposure to formaldehyde in the home

  • Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii, to develop a corrosion resistant, non-toxic, multifunctional coating to protect the interior of aging pipelines that can be applied via a process that allows for heavily corroded pipes to be retrofitted and refurbished in place

  • ZILA Works, Renton, Wash., to use an oil derived from hempseed to create an eco-friendly epoxy resin for use in manufacturing sporting goods

EPA’s SBIR funding boosts local economies by creating jobs and promoting collaborations among small businesses through product testing and research. This funding also supports technologies aimed at creating cleaner manufacturing materials and better infrastructure in communities. One former SBIR recipient PittMoss, created a peat moss alternative that is a mix of patented additives and recycled paper from landfills. This substitute to traditional peat moss is cheaper, reduces water usage and less harmful to the environment. Another former SBIR company, GreenTechnologies, developed a filter to be used in water treatment systems that can remove phosphorus from drinking water without chemical additives.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation. To be eligible, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have fewer than 500 employees.

Learn more about EPA’s SBIR program at