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Green Building Alliance Announces Recipients of 2011 Product Innovation Grants

Pennsylvania Green Building Product Entrepreneurs Receive $250,000 Boost

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 3, 2011) – Green Building Alliance (GBA) today announced the five newest recipients of its Product Innovation Grants. Selected through a competitive process, these Pennsylvania-based award winners will share a total of $250,000 to address challenges in the fast-growing green building marketplace. The targeted innovations include advanced energy efficiency solutions, improvements for indoor air quality, lighting that mimics daylight, and recycled and bio-based inclusions for concrete-type products.

GBA’s Product Innovation Grants are designed to help recipients accelerate the introduction of green building products to the market while encouraging growth in Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector. This is the fifth round of grants awarded since GBA began its Green Building Products Initiative in 2006.  In total, 24 Pennsylvania projects have received more than $1.2 million through the program.

“Pennsylvania has always been a leader in innovative products and manufacturing.  We are excited that these grants can help continue this legacy by accelerating growth of local organizations in the development of new green building products for the local, national, and international markets,” said Mike Schiller, GBA’s Executive Director.  “Our unique Product Innovation Grant program has encouraged collaborations between private-sector companies and university teams throughout Pennsylvania, advancing state-of-the-art technologies and creating revenue and jobs across the green building spectrum.”

For this fifth Product Innovation Grant round, five proposals were selected to receive grants, including:

  • $100,000 to Thar Geothermal LLC to implement and evaluate a novel ground-source CO2 geothermal heat pump system at a commercial scale. Carnegie Mellon University will partner with Thar to monitor and verify the system’s performance and to assist with building integration and optimization.
  • $100,000 to Energy Wall to efficiently manufacture and beta test a passive heat and moisture transfer membrane for ventilation air recovery. Energy Wall will collaborate with The Pennsylvania State University to monitor and evaluate the ventilation systems for residential, commercial, and industrial building markets.
  • $20,000 to Drexel University to develop an automatic diurnal/seasonal daylight-matching LED luminaire in collaboration with Appalachian Lighting and other partners.  This project will produce a prototype for installation and evaluation in interior spaces.
  • $20,000 to EcoBuilt Efficient Buildings to test, evaluate, and market “MaqCrete” post-industrial/bio-fiber structural insulating masonry blocks.  EcoBuilt will work with Drexel University to evaluate the patented MaqCrete formula for strength and energy efficiency.
  • $10,000 to The Pennsylvania State University to investigate the possibility of utilizing recycled gypsum in concrete, which may ultimately reduce the amount of drywall waste sent to landfills. This project will collaborate with USA Gypsum to advance gypsum recycling initiatives by testing and developing a use for recycled gypsum in concrete building products.

“Over the past five years we have been very impressed by the quality and quantity of applicants for this competitive grant program,” stated Dr. Aurora Sharrard, GBA’s Director of Innovation. “Since GBA is involved in all aspects of green buildings, we look forward to helping products and technologies from our newest and past Product Innovation Grant recipients enhance many pioneering green building projects throughout Pennsylvania.”

Product Innovation Grant proposals submitted for this round were assessed based on the criteria of green building leadership, technical merit, commercialization plan viability, partnership resources, and potential market impact.  Grant award decisions were made at the discretion of GBA on the recommendations of the Product Innovation Grant Review Committee, which is comprised of a variety of manufacturers, investors, economic development stakeholders, academic researchers, and consultants.

Individual project sheets on the five new grant recipients are downloadable at www.go-gba.org/PI_Round5Recipients.  Information about all 24 Product Innovation Grant recipients can be found by visiting www.go-gba.org/PI_Recipients

About GBA

Green Building Alliance (GBA) is a nonprofit organization that advances economic prosperity and human wellbeing in Western Pennsylvania by driving market demand for green buildings and green building products.  Product Innovation Grants are a component of GBA’s Green Building Products Initiative economic development program, which serves the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Funding for the Initiative is provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority; The Heinz Endowments; and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.



DARPA Selects Logos Technologies to Produce Jet Fuel from Cellulose

Thar is a member of Logos' team for this project

April 8, 2009

Virginia, United States - Logos Technologies Inc. has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to produce fully compatible jet fuel from cellulose. Logos' current effort is valued at US $19.6 million. If all phases of the development program are completed, funding could grow to $35 million.

The project team assembled under the DARPA program includes 21 organizations from nine states. Universities, large and small businesses are all part of the team and will be managed at Logos' process integration laboratory in northern Virginia.

"While fully compatible jet fuel produced from cellulose offers many advantages over other sources, its production demands more complicated processing than do current biofuel-production approaches.  An important focus of the DARPA effort is to produce fuel at a cost that is attractive relative to other renewable alternatives, a goal that can be achieved better with our process, which can also produce diesel fuel and automotive gasoline,” said Dr. Greg Poe, Logos Technologies' CEO.

If the production of the fuel proves to be successful, Logos' scientists estimate that the cellulose waste streams from agriculture, industries, and cities could supply a significant amount of U.S. transportation fuel needs with a fossil-fuel substitute that offers superior performance and engine compatibility when compared to current biofuels.


Thar Process, Inc. Wins Grant to Develop Energy Efficient Air Conditioning System

March 10, 2009

Pittsburgh, PA - Thar Process, Inc. announces that it has been awarded a grant from the Green Building Alliance (GBA) for developing an energy efficient Geothermal Heat Rejection air conditioning system for commercial and residential buildings. This system will be able to take heat directly from inside buildings and expel it to the earth. It will employ carbon dioxide as a heat transfer fluid.

The thermodynamic properties of carbon dioxide are well-suited to the development of a ground-loop heat rejection cooling unit. Pumping and/or compression equipment, as well as down-hole piping, are smaller and more efficient than conventional freon- or water-based heat-transfer systems. Thar Geothermal, a unit of Thar Energy, is currently testing this process in a one-ton commercial/residential application, but the technology is easily scalable to much larger installations, with special advantages to zone-controlled distributed cooling. It is expected that this system will be 7 to 8 times more energy efficient than a conventional ground-based cooling system with the same cooling capacity.


Thar Process, Inc. Wins Pennsylvania Dept. of Environment Grant to Develop Energy-efficient Alternative to Distilling Fermentation Broth in Corn-ethanol Plants

January 21 , 2009

Pittsburgh, PA - The Pennsylvania Dept. of the Environment, through its Alternative Fuels Innovation Grants (AFIG) program has awarded Thar Process, Inc. a $500,000 matching grant for the developmenty of a "drop-in" replacement process for conventional fermentation-broth distillation and molecular-sieve dehydration in corn-ethanol plants. This combination of distillation and dehydration typically accounts for 40% of the energy costs of producing ethanol from corn, taking cultivation, harvesting, other processing and distribution into account. Thar expects that it can halve this factor to 20%, thereby making corn ethanol energy-positive, meaning that the overall process, from farming through delivery to the gas pump, results in a net positive energy gain to the economy.

For more information, click on this article from Ethanol Producer Magazine.



Thar Technologies Receives $2 Million ATP Grant for Producing Biodiesel Fuel Without Toxic Hexane

New green technology also requires less energy per unit of production

January 14, 2008

Pittsburgh, PA - Thar Technologies, Inc. announced today funding for a new initiative to develop green, biodiesel fuel technology. The environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient technology will be based on Thar’s expertise in high pressure processing techniques, known as supercritical fluid technology. Initial funding for this initiative has been obtained through a $2 million grant from the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

"Advanced Technology Program awards have been aimed at encouraging private industry to develop innovative technologies for national benefit," said Marc Stanley, director of the NIST program responsible for managing the ATP award to Thar. "If Thar Technologies is able to improve the efficiency of biodiesel fuel production, they will be helping the nation to meet its energy independence and environmental protection goals."

Despite biodiesel production increasing in recent years, inefficient, pollution-prone processes using hexane to extract oil from oilseeds continue to inhibit biodiesel from becoming a serious alternative to conventional petroleum diesel fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies hexane as a hazardous air pollutant. Thar will replace hexane with high pressure carbon dioxide and eliminate many of the inefficiencies of current processes.

Dr. Lalit Chordia, CEO of Thar, said “Thar’s green technology requires less energy per unit of production and integrates several post-extraction steps into one continuous, efficient process. Cost-effective biodiesel for mass production is finally on the horizon.”

Successful development of the technology will profitably produce biodiesel directly from both edible and inedible oilseed feedstock while reducing energy consumption and eliminating environmental hazards and the need for production subsidies. Because the technology starts with oilseed feedstock, rather than seed oil from a remote, hexane-based extraction plant, it bolsters the use of US-based sources of feedstock. The by-products produced with this technology have a higher value than those made with conventional processes, making the process very competitive and efficient. Furthermore, this green and continuous process can easily be applied to other industries, including food and pharmaceuticals.

Congressman Jason Altmire reviewed a demonstration prior to the Thar announcement on Monday. “There is no time to waste in securing America’s independence from foreign oil,” said Altmire. Increasing our investment in the research and development of alternative fuels will help bolster our national security, protect our environment, and boost our economy. The funding Thar Technologies is receiving today will help this locally-based company increase America’s energy security by devising a more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly way to produce biodiesel. Supporting cutting-edge research like this is key to creating new jobs and keeping western Pennsylvania at the forefront of innovative technology.”

Our parent company, Thar Technologies is now a name brand in supercritical fluids and has various awards, including 2002 Small Business Exporter of the Year, Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies, and Top 25 Environmental Companies.



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