March 30, 2011

Nanotech Know-How Powers New Businesses

By: by The Research Foundation, State University of New York


Nanotechnology -- manipulating matter at the atomic level -- is enabling the next generation of green technologies. However, developing and commercializing clean energy products can be a formidable task given the complexity and maturity of the energy market.

The Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center ( E2TAC ), part of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering ( CNSE ) of the University at Albany, was created in 1998 to accelerate the movement of new clean energy technologies to the marketplace.

E2TAC allows business partners to access the intellectual power base and the extensive nanoelectronics and nanotechnology capabilities at CNSEs Albany NanoTech Complex , a $7 billion megaplex that is the most advanced research enterprise in the academic world.

E2TAC is currently working with more than 100 companies on research and development projects in photovoltaics, fuel cells, power electronics, ultracapacitors, superconductors, thermoelectrics and other areas related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

 A founding member of the national Clean Energy Alliance, E2TAC also provides guidance to energy technology organizations in the form of business plan development, networking opportunities, and partnerships. In addition, E2TAC leverages its unique energy capabilities in partnership with other SUNY campuses wherever possible.

Dr. Pradeep Haldar, CNSE Vice President for Clean Energy Programs and Director of E2TAC, compares the process of commercializing alternative energy technologies to peeling back the layers of an onion. Manufacturers and suppliers build products that are based on university research that is funded by government, Haldar explained. On another level, universities and businesses need to work with government in its role as a key regulating body to make sure legislation and policy is in place to support the new products.

E2TAC has worked with multiple state, national and international industry groups to develop commercialization roadmaps for energy technologies, including hydrogen and solar power. These roadmaps highlight opportunities, outline challenges, and propose multi-year strategies to promote the widespread adoption of these technologies.

Working with a growing list of collaborators, E2TAC has a proven ability to help businesses succeed. In just the past 12 months, E2TAC entered into partnerships with EYP/Energy, a division of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott ("EYP") Architecture and Engineering PC of Albany, to support energy efficient and environmentally friendly building design; Boston-based Magnolia Solar Corporation, to demonstrate its technologies in nanostructure-based thin film solar cells; and CG Power, a global leader in power transmission and distribution headquartered in India, to enable nanotechnology innovations for smart grid solutions.

And, E2TAC and the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation (HVCFI) recently established iCLEAN, or "Incubators for Collaborating & Leveraging Energy and Nanotechnology," funded in part through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

iCLEAN offers the region's entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators the highest levels of energy-focused incubation, including facilities, access to scientific research and development, academics, proven business commercialization and acceleration experience, manufacturing and training expertise, executive mentoring, and education and outreach activities.

Haldar, who is recognized nationally as a leader in clean energy, is excited about the future at CNSE. The planned construction of a Zero Energy Nanotechnology (ZEN) Building to serve as a "living laboratory" for clean energy technologies and companies will add to the unique capabilities at CNSE.

Haldar would like to replicate the successful CNSE model for nanoelectronics research, development and commercialization and apply it to photovoltaics. The existing infrastructure at CNSE, which exists nowhere else, can be used to establish a manufacturing-development capacity in solar, said Haldar.