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Ames Technology Used by Winning Startup in Energy Department’s “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” Challenge


Building on President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he discussed the Administration’s commitment to supporting innovation and American companies, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced the top three startup companies—based on a public vote and expert review—of the 14 that participated in the “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge. IPAT, based in Nevada, Iowa, is one of three winners and is using technology developed at Ames Laboratory.

From January 26 through February 6, Americans cast nearly half a million votes online by “liking” their choices for the most innovative and promising startup companies that are licensing groundbreaking technologies developed by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 17 national laboratories and building successful businesses. Experts conducted a separate review of the companies, and scored them based on their potential economic and societal contributions. The top three picks were invited to be featured at the premier annual gathering of clean energy investors and innovators around the country, the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, held at the end of February.

"I congratulate these innovative startup companies as they lead the way in creating new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories,” said Secretary Chu. “Through the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge, we are unleashing startup companies to do what they do best: create new products, new industries, and new jobs.”

IPAT is using gas atomization technology developed at Ames Laboratory to make titanium powder with processes that are ten times more efficient than traditional powder-making methods, significantly lowering the cost of the powder to manufacturers. The powder form of titanium is easier to work with than having to cast the metal—where manufacturers melt and pour liquid metal into molds—particularly given titanium’s tendency to react with the materials used to form molds. Titanium’s strength, light weight, biocompatibility and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for use in a variety of parts, from components for artificial limbs like those used by wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to military vehicle components, biomedical implants, aerospace fasteners and chemical plant valves. View a video on the company’s technology here.

As part of America’s Next Top Energy Innovator, the DOE reduces both the cost and the paperwork requirements for startup companies to obtain an option agreement to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the Department’s 17 laboratories. Americans can view profiles of the competing startups by here. Learn about the other two top picks in the competition here.

“America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” is part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America initiative, which aims to create the best possible climate for high-growth entrepreneurs across the country.

Learn more about the DOE’s America’s Next Top Energy Innovator program here. Learn more about the Obama Administration’s Startup America initiative here.

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