Ben Franklin TechVentures® was the first stop for Jamie Link, Ph.D. of the U.S. Department of Energy during a March 22nd and 23rd visit to the Lehigh Valley and Greater Reading area. Dr. Link is a Senior Technical Advisor in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and the Deputy Program Manager for the Industrial Technologies Program (ITP). The tour was arranged by Joe Cresko, Director of the Emerging Technologies Applications Center (ETAC) at Northampton Community College and an Engineering Sciences Fellow supporting EERE and ITP. The visit was an opportunity for Dr. Link to observe first-hand the impact of DOE funding in the region, as well as interact with organizations developing, deploying and utilizing clean energy technologies and energy conservation measures.
Cresko worked with Connie Faylor and Bob Thomson of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) to schedule two days of tours in the region, including meetings with companies that have received technical and financial assistance through ETAC/BFTP projects. Dr. Link met with several BFTP/NEP clients that are receiving investments through its allocation from the Alternative Energy Development Program (AEDP). Pennsylvania’s AEDP was created in July 2008 to incent collaboration to save energy costs, reduce dependence on foreign fuels, expand clean energy production, and create energy-related jobs in the state.
Chad Paul, President and Chief Executive Officer of BFTP/NEP, conducted a tour of the award-winning Ben Franklin TechVentures, and highlighted several client companies located within the incubator/post-incubator facility. Ben Franklin received a $6 million construction grant toward the facility’s $18 million expansion, TechVentures2, from the U.S. Commerce Department last year. Ben Franklin TechVentures2 is slated for completion by the end of 2011.
On Tuesday, March 22nd, Dr. Link visited Lehigh University’s Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology to hear about research happening in the materials areas as well as a presentation on industrial energy efficiency projects performed by Lehigh’s Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), where students get real-world experience helping manufacturers identify energy savings opportunities. The IAC is funded by DOE, and this past year Lehigh’s IAC was able to double the number of companies that were helped through additional Recovery Act funding.
Dr. Link also met with principals of CEWA Technologies, located in TechVentures and working with Lehigh University, which designs and manufactures point concentrator solar dishes. The solar dishes provide thermal energy at prices that are less than existing concentrating solar technologies, and are anticipated to be competitive with fossil fuels without relying on government subsidies. Link visited Whitehall-based Dynalene, Inc., which is developing two new heat-transfer fluids, one for concentrated solar power plants that is stable at higher temperatures and the other for use in fuel cells.
On Wednesday, March 23rd, Dr. Link met leaders of Reading-based Custom Processing Services, which is working with BFTP/NEP and ETAC to identify a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system for a co-generation plant. The plant will provide for Custom Processing Services’ extensive electricity needs plus meet their thermal demand by utilizing non-polluting waste products that are typically sent to landfills. Pete Roberts of ETAC has experience in these types of projects. Pete spent several years helping Reading-based United Corrstack Inc. (UCI) evaluate the potential of CHP to power its paper recycling mill. UCI is now receiving all of its steam and power from Evergreen Community Power – the newest company affiliate operating a state-of-the-art CHP facility fueled by biomass. Dr. Link toured both the paper mill and the co-generation plant.
Dr. Link also met with Carpenter Technology, a world-leader in the development, manufacture, and distribution of cast/wrought and powder metal stainless steels and specialty alloys.
She concluded her regional visit at East Penn Manufacturing, the largest manufacturing employer in Berks County, which is developing process optimization that supports the company’s new advanced battery products. East Penn is the recipient of $32.5 million in DOE funding to expand production capacities of advanced lead-acid batteries and its UltraBattery, which combines the advantages of a carbon-enhanced, valve-regulated lead-acid battery with the advantages of an asymmetric supercapacitor. These products are used in hybrid electric vehicles, uninterruptible power supplies, and renewable energy.