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Local small businesses receive EPA research contracts

Release Date: 4/14/2005
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      Denver -- Robert E. Roberts, EPA Region 8 Administrator, today announced that ADA Technologies of Littleton, Colo. and TDA Research, Inc. of Wheat Ridge, Colo. each received $225,000 from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ADA Technologies and TDA Research were chosen from a pool of 37 applicants across the country.

Researchers at ADA are developing a new technology to remove airborne mercury from the exhaust gas streams of incinerators. The release of mercury into the environment via combustion processes has become an issue of concern for the US and the entire world. Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water, soil and many rocks such as coal. When coal is burned, mercury is released into the environment. Mercury in the air eventually settles into water or onto land where it can be washed into water. Once deposited, certain microorganisms can change it into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish, shellfish and animals that eat fish. Mercury exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of people of all ages.

ADA’s technology will efficiently capture mercury and produce granular, solid, mercuric sulfide, a form of mercury can be handled as a nonhazardous waste. In addition, the new process is substantially cheaper than conventional processes.

Researchers at TDA are using nanotechnology to develop a new paint additive that delays the growth of algae and fungus. Biocides – substances that kill harmful living organisms -- are vital for preserving coatings in cans as well as for long-term coating integrity after application.

Typically, protection of a coating by a biocide lasts only around 18 months and even less in hot, humid environments like the southern and southeastern United States. Once the biocides have leached out, a new coating must be applied, often after a labor-intensive washing or removal of the previous coating. This process creates a variety of undesirable environmental impacts, from the contamination of surrounding areas by biocide leaching to the increased volatile organic compounds or VOCs emitted during re-application of the coating.

TDA will develop a system that prolongs the lifetime of a biocidal coating and decreases the environmental impacts. By immobilizing the biocide additive in a coating, such as paint, it will not leach and so will stay within the coating longer. A coating that retains its biocidal activity for twice as long, for example, would require repainting only half as often, leading also to a decrease in VOC emissions and waste production during painting. Such a biocide would also prevent the formation of biocide-resistant bacteria that can form from a traditional slow-release biocide.

The 22 million small businesses in the United States employ about 51 percent of the private work force and develop most of the country’s new technologies. Years ago, Congress recognized the need to strengthen the role of small businesses in federally funded research and development and passes a law creating the Small Business Innovation Research program for businesses with no more than 500 employees. EPA’s highly competitive SBIR program offers critical financial support to small businesses to develop the best, new, innovative technologies. EPA’s SBIR program focuses on important areas related to environmental protection, including clean air and water, hazardous and solid wastes, pollution prevention, remediation, and monitoring,. Recent issues include homeland security, clean-up technologies, and technology solutions for specific environmental needs.

EPA is now accepting proposals for SBIR research projects. EPA anticipates the award of approximately $2.8 million in firm, fixed-price contracts of approximately $70,000 each. The request for applications will close on May 25, 2005. To learn more, see:

To learn more about these research projects and SBIR’s program, please visit:

EPA relies on quality science as the basis for sound policy and decision-making. EPA laboratories, research centers, and grantees are building the scientific foundation needed to support the Agency’s mission to safeguard human health and the environment.