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NYSERDA Awards Support Transportation Innovation

Wikimedia Commons/Ildar Sagdejev

This week, the Cuomo administration announced $4.3 million in grants for projects that would reduce the environmental impact of transportation in New York.

The 17 awards, administered through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority – or NYSERDA – are focused on technologies that would reduce dependence on fossil fuels, cut down on pollution, and promote healthier lifestyles.

Spokeswoman Kate Muller said NYSERDA’s focus on technology is an aspect of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Transportation in New York state is responsible for three-fourths of the state’s fossil fuel use, and 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Muller. “So successful energy improvement technologies, like those awarded by Governor Cuomo in the transportation sector have the potential to significantly reduce the state’s energy footprint, as well as reduce certainly these emissions’ impact on the environment.” 

In a release, Governor Cuomo said, “By investing in innovative new energy technologies, we are continuing our progress in building a cleaner New York.”

Among the grants, $100,000 was awarded to Ecovative Design, a company based in Green Island that engineers green building and packaging materials using mushroom technology. Gavin McIntyre, co-founder and chief scientist at Ecovative, said the funding will assist in a project to adapt their mushroom-based materials into automobiles.

“Today we’re working with a number of American automotive manufacturers, as well as a couple of tier 1 suppliers, and our principal focus with this new award is to grow replacements for the acoustic foams that are located inside the cabin of many cars – anything from a sedan to an SUV – as well as engine covers, in particular, for an American sports car,” said McIntyre.

McIntyre said Ecovative’s biomaterial could be used to replace the plastic foams also used in automotive safety components.

“We really see the performance that we currently garner from our protective packaging product, in terms of impact resistance, transitioning nicely into the automotive sector, being found in everything from door panels to bumpers in any type of automobile,” said McIntyre.

Other awards include a $500,000 grant to Actasys, a start-up at Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Flow Physics and Control. Working with Albany-based DPR consultants, Schenectady’s Golub Corp. and others, Actasys is designing technology to reduce aerodynamic drag tractor trailers.

$325,000 was also awarded to Alta Planning + Design in Saratoga Springs to design electric bikes powered by wireless charging stations. Alta Bicycle Share operates systems in New York City, Washington DC, Boston, and other locations.

New York City

  • LED lighting for New York City Subway ($242,000) – Clear-Vu Lighting, Westbury, will expand its LED lighting products to include a new device to be used in the New York City subway system. Clear-Vu's product would replace a compact fluorescent lighting system used to light tunnels with a LED-based system that would significantly reduce installation and energy costs.
  • Improving traffic management ($75,000) – Bandwagon, a company located in Brooklyn, will work with researchers at Columbia University, New York University and several New York City agencies to develop an open database management system that would pool sources of electronic information on traffic flow in order to promote traffic data accessibility, improve traffic management, increase traffic efficiency and reduce fuel use due to traffic delays.
  • Wireless electric vehicle charging ($240,000) – HEVO Power, New York City, working with NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Pepsi-Co/Frito-Lay of Purchase, and several other partners, is developing wireless electric vehicle charging technology. The concept uses a wireless transmitter in the pavement and a receiver unit mounted under the vehicle. The technology is meant to promote the growth of electric vehicles in New York City.
  • Reducing FDNY ambulance idling ($360,000) – The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) averages 625 ambulance trips per day, strategically dispersed throughout the five boroughs of New York City to minimize response time. However, those ambulances can idle 12 hours a day, wasting fuel. Shorepower Technologies, Utica, a national leader in truck stop electrification, is working with Eldor Electric LLC, College Point, and the FDNY on a pilot project to design, install and evaluate street-side electric connections to replace wasteful idling.
  • Car-share/van-pool efficiency ($325,000) – Social Bicycles, New York City, seeks to combine car-share and van-pool programs to make more efficient use of idled vehicles for work commuting, airport trips, large entertainment events such as concerts, and other uses.

Capital Region

  • Mushroom by-products for car insulation ($110,000) – Ecovative Design, Green Island, which manufactures insulation and packing foam made from mushroom by-products, offers an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil-fuel-derived plastic resins. The company will continue product development of bio-based car insulation foam.
  • Reducing aerodynamic drag on trucks ($500,000) – Actasys, a start-up at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Flow Physics and Control, is working with DPR Consultants, Albany, Golub Corp. (Price Chopper Supermarkets), Schenectady, and other partners to develop small air-jet actuators that would be installed on tractor-trailer trucks to reduce aerodynamic drag, reducing fuel use by as much as 10 percent. These devices are to be tested on Price Chopper Supermarket trucks.
  • Electric bikes with wireless charging ($325,000) – Alta Planning + Design, Saratoga Springs, with Alta Bicycle Share and Julien Bouget, GreenPCS - Albany, plans to offer electric bikes as an alternative to traditional bike-share programs, which are limited by user fitness and comfort level with longer rides. The project would design and deploy bikes with a wireless recharging system, ensuring that bikes charge automatically when docked. Alta Bicycle Share currently operates systems in Washington D.C., New York City, Boston and other locations using solar-powered wireless bike-share stations.

North Country

  • Reducing cost of hybrid bus motors ($75,000) -- LC Drives Corp., Potsdam, which designs wind-turbine generators, is working with Unique Technical Services LLC, Smithtown, to expand this technology for use in hybrid-electric buses. The companies will work to improve motor design to cut in half the cost of bus motor systems.

Mohawk Valley

  • Standardizing power supply equipment for hybrid refrigerator trucks ($98,000) – New West Technologies LLC, an advanced energy technology consulting firm in Yorkville, and Auburn Armature Inc., an electrical products manufacturer and distributor in Auburn, seek to develop national standards for power supply equipment for plug-in hybrid-electric truck refrigeration units. These systems allow refrigeration units to use grid power while parked, reduce diesel fuel consumption and pollution, and comply with anti-idling rules in many areas.

Central New York

  • Avoiding airport gridlock ($226,000) – Saab Sensis Corp., East Syracuse, will continue developing its airport surface management system, Aerobahn. The product is currently used at JFK and other major U.S. airports to reduce flight delays and to improve gate-to-gate on-time performance. The new work would integrate a modeling program into this software to look at methods to avoiding delays and gridlock in the near future, based on plane activity in the present.
  • Radar to find fuel-efficient routes for airplanes ($495,000 in three phases) – C Speed LLC, Liverpool, will continue to develop its lightwave radar, which negates radar "clutter" caused by wind farms and other ground obstructions, allowing air traffic controllers to select more-direct and fuel-efficient routes for aircraft approaching and departing airports.

Finger Lakes

  • High-speed, high temperature vehicle motors ($422,000) – Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Rochester, a major manufacturer of highly-engineered magnetic components used in electric motors, plans to expand its product offerings to include high-speed, high-temperature electric motors for use in both electric and conventional vehicles.
  • Diesel emission control system ($121,000) – Airflow Catalyst Systems, Rochester, is working with AppliedLogix LLC, Fairport, to pursue a new diesel emission control system design for niche market needs such as mining, marine and rail.
  • Improving electric vehicle batteries ($75,000) – NOHMs Technologies Inc., Rochester, a manufacturer of materials for lithium-ion batteries, is seeking to commercialize electrolytes that will improve performance of batteries under development for electric vehicles.
  • Harvesting energy from tire-flexing ($455,000) – MicroGen Systems Inc., West Henrietta, has micro-scale products that convert vibration from industrial and building equipment into usable electrical power for wireless sensors. The company seeks to commercialize a new micro-power product that harvests energy from the repeated flexing of vehicle tires to power tire-pressure monitoring systems. The product would help save fuel and increase operator safety by maintaining proper tire inflation and would negate the need for periodic battery replacement, significantly reducing waste.

Long Island

  • Energy storage for Long Island Rail Road ($110,000) – Electrical Power Worx Corp, Alfred, New York, is developing a two-megawatt ultracapacitor energy storage system to be demonstrated in conjunction with the Long Island Rail Road. The purpose is to absorb the braking energy from a decelerating train, capture that power and make it available for later train use, reducing electrical demand from the grid.
Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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