In an effort to find ways to lessen the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, the US Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory has awarded a $150,000 research grant to Pixelligent Technologies to further develop its technology to make industrial and automotive lubricants more efficient. With the prospect of commercializing a product from the research, the Baltimore nanocrystal additive manufacturer is planning to relocate to a larger facility this year although details were not yet available.
The energy department’s Small Business Innovation Research Grant was awarded less than a month after it signed a two-year, $500,000 Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Baltimore company for the Argonne Laboratory to analyze and test its proprietary nanocrystal technology. Pixelligent and Argonne will split the cost of the research project. The Cooperative Research and Development Agreements are intended to speed commercialization of private sector technology. Craig Bandes, president and CEO, says that both grants are helping the company to reach its goal of commercializing a product, possibly a low-friction oil, out of nanocrystal additives this year. Bandes says Pixelligent is one of several different technologies the government is looking at, including companies that use other types of additives and biofuels. “We are not the only technology in the area, but we have attracted a high level of interest from the energy department,” says Bandes. In preliminary testing with Argonne, results indicate that by dispersing nanocrystals into oil, there is a significant reduction in engine and equipment friction. Doing so prolongs the life of both, improves the efficiency of both and reduces fuel consumption.
“It’s not just that the oil is improved and gas mileage goes up,” says Bandes, “the department of energy is looking for next generation technology.”
Pixelligent was founded in 2000 in the College Park area. The company moved to an 11,000-square foot building in Baltimore in 2011 that allowed it to develop laboratory and manufacturing facilities. The company manufactures specific nanocrystal additives and polymer nanocomposites for the electronics, semiconductor and industrial markets. Bandes expects to grow the current staff of 26 to 40 to 50 staffers this year. He is currently recruiting for five positions in manufacturing, engineering and business development. Besides the energy department funding, Pixelligent has received $12 million from the US Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation, and $8.5 million in angel investments.