FWD:Energy receives research subsidy from the Department of Energy
FWD:Energy Inc., Zanesville, Ohio, has been awarded a research subsidy of $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for use at federal laboratories to advance its technology to turn scrap tires into a key ingredient for lithium-ion batteries called Green Battery Carbon.
The awarded funds are provided through the DOE’s Small Business Vouchers Pilot (SBV), a recently introduced initiative of the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that helps small U.S. companies bring their innovations to market by pairing them with participating DOE national labs.
“We have a special opportunity to work with the finest researchers in the world to advance our process and outputs for use in batteries and energy storage applications,” FWD:Energy CEO Richard Sloan said. “We get access to expertise and equipment that a small company like FWD:Energy would otherwise never be able to afford.”
FWD:Energy has already developed a clean, sustainable patent-pending system to turn large volumes of North America’s 300 million annual scrap tires into valuable commodity products. The company’s industrial microwave process, called VersaWave, breaks down the scrap tires into synthetic gas, crude oil and reclaimed carbon black, branded FWD:black, for use in rubber products to reduce wear and as the blackening agent in inks and dyes. FWD:Energy will use its $250,000 Small Business Voucher award for work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory to optimize the characteristics of its Green Battery Carbon.
Targeted uses for Green Battery Carbon include the anodes of lithium-ion batteries that power mobile devices, power tools, and, increasingly, electric cars. In larger formats, the material may be used in energy applications at solar and wind-generation sites. Currently, the conventional material used in lithium-ion batteries is mined and refined graphite, an ingredient that is controlled primarily by China. Analysts estimate that over 75 percent of the global graphite supply is owned by China.
“Instead of having a foreign state control this market, we now have the opportunity to source the material domestically and in a comparatively sustainable and economical way. Green Battery Carbon represents a significant strategic shift for lithium-ion battery makers,” Sloan said.
FWD:Energy’s first commercial plant is slated to open in southeast Ohio. FWD Energy partnered with TechGROWTH Ohio, part of Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, early on to fund research and development, patent filings and facility siting initiatives. FWD Energy has also worked with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) and Jobs Ohio to situate the first plant in the southeast Ohio region.