Poly Adaptive Wins ASTA Grant to Develop Prototype
May 21st, 2014 by Rebecca Todd
The award will support continued development of Poly Adaptive’s Electro-Dynamic Shield technology and the construction of a full-scale prototype for a solar panel application.
The company seeks to limit dust and debris buildup on solar panels, camera-based inspection systems, and other surfaces through the use of its self-cleaning nanoscale materials.
Dust and debris buildup on solar panels can lead to a 20-percent reduction in efficiency, as demonstrated in Southern California Edison’s Solar Rooftop program. SCE is the country’s largest utility company, and its Rooftop program is the nation’s largest advanced solar photovoltaic project. SCE determined that the annual cost to clean solar panels is $8.7 million.
The utility has expressed interest in obtaining results of Poly Adaptive’s prototype pilot tests. “This prototype will open the doors to in situ demonstration project opportunities which are critical to gaining entry into the commercial markets,” noted Robbie Linn, Poly Adaptive president.
Poly Adaptive previously won Small Business Innovation Research awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to address dust and debris buildup on spacecraft surfaces and on camera-based railroad track inspection systems, respectively.
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center assisted Poly Adaptive with its successful SBIR proposals as well as its TDP application. “The ASBTDC has been an unheralded resource that has enabled Poly Adaptive to better understand our markets and to successfully acquire SBIR opportunities with both NASA and the Department of Transportation,” said Linn.
Dr. Charlie Buhler, Poly Adaptive’s principal investigator, said, “Poly Adaptive provides a dust/dirt mitigation technology which can automatically self-clean surfaces without the use of liquids, air sprays, or moving parts. This technology has been developed for dust mitigation for NASA under license by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and presents a viable, cost-effective solution to this problem.”
Poly Adaptive was originally founded to commercialize nanotechnologies from the university’s Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences. “The technology coming out of UALR’s nanotechnology center was too good to withhold from the public. We were convinced we could help commercialize valuable discoveries,” Linn said.
Linn had some advice for other innovative companies seeking state and federal funding to support research and development of their technologies.
“It is critical to have a proper understanding of just how mature your technology is relative to commercial market acceptance. Each SBIR or other funding opportunity must be married to specific initiatives that continue to advance your technology toward full commercialization,” he said. “All technologies will encounter barriers to success, and overcoming these barriers requires creativity, focus, and funding, along with the discipline to avoid distracting opportunities that don’t advance the technology.”