By Velda Addison, Hart Energy

With a goal of increasing the number of energy technologies with commercial potential developed at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) labs, the newly formed Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) is calling for proposals to help bring new energy technologies to market.

Fueled by $20 million in its Technology Commercialization Fund, the OTT said the funds will also be used to “help strengthen partnerships between the national labs and private sector companies that can deploy energy technologies to the marketplace.”

Funds granted will serve as a 50% match to funds from private partners.

“Every day our national labs are developing innovative new technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the way we generate, store and transmit energy,” Jetta Wong, director of the Office of Technology Transitions, said in a news release. “But in order to accelerate the use of clean energy technologies, we need to get more of these breakthroughs out of our labs and into our marketplace.”

The OTT pointed out that many technologies in use today got their start in a national lab. These have included batteries used in electric vehicles, Internet services and optical digital recording technology. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), which is one of the DOE’s 17 national labs, along with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy has also played a role in developing oil and gas technologies. Its successes as highlighted on the DOE’s website include:

  • Creating technologies such as low nitrogen oxide burners, flue gas desulfurization (scrubbers) and fluidized bed combustion;
  • Introducing EOR technologies;
  • Devising methods to inject and store carbon dioxide in geologic formations and
  • Advancing drilling, environmental and fracturing technologies to help boost oil and gas production from shale plays.

In January, the NETL announced it had granted a license to developer CogniTek Management Systems through the company’s MG Fuels for two patented sorbent technologies that capture carbon dioxide from streams of mixed gases. The technology is said to make energy production from renewable fuels cleaner and more efficient.

Hopes are the OTT will lead to more energy-focused technologies, including clean energy ones.

“The launch of this fund is an important milestone for OTT as it approaches its one-year anniversary and demonstrates our efforts to expand the commercial impact of DOE’s research and development portfolio,” Wong added.

The OTT was formed in 2015 with focus on data management and analysis, evidence-based evaluations and stakeholder engagement. As described on its website, the technology transitions is the process which involves the collaboration, partnerships and information exchanges between scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs that transforms an idea into a commercialized technology by the private sector.

“Every technology follows its own unique path and requires a variety of exchanges and partnerships to advance it along the developmental spectrum. OTT provides support in each step of this process,” OTT said.

A team of DOE staffers and independent evaluators will review proposals solicited from the DOE national labs this spring, according to the news release. Proposals will the most promise and the required private sector funding match will receive TCF funding.

Velda Addison can be reached at