HiFunda Awarded Phase II SBIR Grant for Metal to Ceramic Joining R&D

June 3, 2017 — HiFunda has received notification of a US Department of Energy Phase II SBIR award for $1 Million for the project entitled “Novel Materials for Metal to Ceramic Transitions”. In the Phase I program, HiFunda, in partnership with Boise State University, successfully demonstrated fabrication of a high-temperature, high-pressure metal to ceramic seal. In Phase II, the HiFunda/BSU team intends to extend the seal capability to even higher temperatures and pressures and optimize the seal design to improve thermal cycling performance. This technology will enable integration of high-temperature heat exchangers that utilize supercritical CO2 or high temperature steam with next generation power plants, including next generation nuclear plants, concentrated solar power and advanced combustion systems.

HiFunda/UConn’s Coatings Perform Well in Rig Testing at Solar Turbines
Detailed Results Indicate Significant Potential for Improvements in Fuel Efficiency, Thrust and Durability

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 18, 2016 – HiFunda LLC announced today their testing results related to developing novel yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) through a collaborative Phase IIA Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project with the University of Connecticut (UConn). The coatings are processed through a novel plasma spray process – the solution precursor plasma spray (SPPS) process – that has been developed over the past two decades at UConn and is being commercialized through a HiFunda spin-off, Solution Spray Technologies, LLC (SST) based in Storrs, CT.

Based on laboratory tests of critical engine properties, these coatings show promise to significantly improve performance over baseline yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) TBCs that have been widely adopted in the gas turbine industry. With the potential to increase component operating temperatures by 200°C (392°F), these YAG TBCs can provide improved fuel efficiency, thrust and durability. In addition to the potential temperature increase, testing has also shown the possibility of SPPS YAG TBCs to significantly increase lifetime in the presence of the high-temperature corrodent calcium magnesium aluminum silicate (CMAS).

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“Developing a process to coat these injector tips was an important part of our effort over the past year,” said Prof. Eric Jordan of University of Connecticut and SST’s Chief Operating Officer. “The temperature reduction is particularly promising and clearly illustrates the promise of this technology to increase operating temperatures and fuel efficiencies of industrial gas turbines.”

In the past year, testing and validation of the SPPS YAG TBCs has been conducted by Solar Turbines Incorporated, a major U.S. gas turbine manufacturer based in San Diego, CA. Solar Turbines has validated the durability and performance of SPPS YAG TBCs in cyclic furnace and full scale fuel nozzle injector rig tests.

“We are excited to be working with Solar Turbines on this project,” Balky Nair, President of HiFunda said: “These results show the potential for SPPS YAG TBCs in real-world gas turbine applications, and represent a significant step forward in our commercialization effort.”

These tests confirm the unique benefits provided by SPPS YAG TBCs. In all tests, coupons and fuel nozzle injectors were coated with 10 mils of SPPS YAG TBC and compared with 20 mils of air plasma sprayed (APS) YSZ. Cyclic furnace testing was carried out to a maximum temperature of 2100°F (1150°C) using a 10 hour cycle and the SPPS YAG TBCs exhibited specification requirements. The rig tests were conducted in a high-temperature high-pressure environment, simulating engine conditions. In the first rig test, the fuel nozzle firing temperature was progressively increased from 2600°F (1426°C) to 3000°F (1647°C) and SPPS YAG TBCs showed no distress after 10 cycles. In the second full-scale injector rig test, using temperature sensitive paint, the temperature drop provided by 10 mils of SPPS YAG TBC was comparable to that provided by 20 mils of APS YSZ, thus confirming the reduced high temperature thermal conductivity of SPPS YAG TBCs (which can allow higher operating temperature and higher fuel efficiency).

Prof. Maurice Gell at UConn, who is also the Chief Technology Officer at SST, and has significant prior industrial experience in the gas turbine industry, said: “These results further validate our belief that SPPS YAG TBC technology represents a potentially game changing step forward for stationary and aircraft gas turbines.”

SST is actively seeking industrial partners to co-develop the technology for specific applications, as well as potential licensees for the SPPS YAG technology.

Acknowledgement: This worked was supported in part through US Department of Energy Grant No: DE-SC0007544


HiFunda is a technology incubator based in Salt Lake City, Utah. HiFunda focuses on identifying opportunities to develop innovative materials-based solutions that can become high-potential energy ventures. The team works to reduce technology risk and increase the project readiness level through product development/R&D. For more information, please contact us or follow us on LinkedIn.

HiFunda Receives Army Research Office Contract for Portable Device to Deliver Oxygen to Wounded Soldiers

March 1, 2016 — HiFunda has received a Phase I SBIR contract from the Army Research Office to develop a battery-powered, portable device for providing high-purity oxygen to wounded soldiers. Research has shown that delivering pure oxygen within the portable oxygen generators to stabilize soldiers injured in the field and suffering from severe blood loss, can significantly enhance survival rates. Having portable, lightweight, battery-powered oxygen generators can significantly reduce the logistical issues associated with transporting oxygen cylinders to the battlefield. “We are extremely excited and deeply honored to be selected to work on a project that can have an impact on saving the lives of brave men and women who put their lives on the line for the defense of our country,” said HiFunda President, Balky Nair.

Oscilla Power, HiFunda Spin-off, Named Finalist in US DOE’s Wave Energy Prize Competition

March 1, 2016 — HiFunda spin-off, Oscilla Power, Inc. was named today as one of 9 finalists in DOE’s wave energy prize competition based on preliminary tank testing of scaled down devices conducted in late 2015. Oscilla is placed second overall so far, very close to the leader in scoring, with the winner to be determined by a detailed set of tests on a 10th scale model at the the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin at Carderock, Md., beginning in the summer of 2016. The competition started with 94 teams this summer’s tests are the latest and last down-selection prior to final award announcements.

HiFunda Receives Notification of Phase II SBIR Award for Continuing Ceramic Membrane R&D

February 29, 2016 — HiFunda has received notification of a Phase II award for $1 Million for our project entitled “Design and Fabrication of Novel Mixed Ion-Electron Conducting Membranes for Oxygen Separation”. HiFunda will continue work from our Phase I project where the feasibility of new materials and a novel process that can improve performance and reduce cost of membrane-based pressure driven oxygen separation systems was demonstrated. In Phase II, HiFunda will optimize the membrane material and process, and demonstrate an integrated module incorporating these innovations.

HiFunda Awarded Two new Phase I Grants from DOE

February 22, 2016 — HiFunda has been received two new Phase I SBIR/STTR awards for $150,000 each from DOE, and has started work on the Phase I Projects. In one of these projects, funded as an SBIR, HiFunda will work with Dartmouth College to develop new low-cost, high-selectivity porous membranes for oxygen separation from air. In the other project, funded as an STTR, HiFunda will work with Boise State University to develop new techniques of joining metals to ceramics that can allow high pressure, high temperature operation, with specific focus on joining metal tubing to ceramic heat exchangers.

HiFunda’s HOPES Technology Selected for Defense Energy Challenge

November 30, 2015 — The High Oxygen Pressure Energy Storage (SPPS) being developed by HiFunda, LLC (SST) has been selected as one of the technologies to be showcased in the Defense Energy Technology Challenge being held December 1-3 in Austin, TX. HOPES is a novel energy storage technology that only needs electric power and air to operate (i.e. no fuel, water or any other consumables), generates no chemical waste, has a high-cycle life and in volume has the potential to have much lower lifetime cost that Li-ion batteries. Balky Nair, President of HiFunda, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the HOPES technology. We think we can enable viable energy storage solutions for a number of DOD agencies that can help to facilitate the adoption of intermittent renewables, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and make many military bases energy self-reliant.”

HiFunda wins New DOE Grant to Develop Advanced Coatings for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Balance of Plant Components

June 8, 2015 — HiFunda has been awarded a new Phase I SBIR grant to develop a low-cost plasma spray coating for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell balance of plant components. The project will utilize the existing plasma spray technology being developed at HiFunda for application of advanced ceramic materials to the stainless steel components in order to solve the current problem of chromium vapor evolution from these stainless steel components. Research has shown that the chromium vapors emitted in the humid high temperature operating environment leads to poisoning of the cathode resulting in decreased lifetime performance of the system. The new protective coatings are being developed to eliminate this chromium poisoning problem which will enable longer periods of operation and lower operating cost resulting in a more competitive clean energy technology.

HiFunda wins New DOE Grant to Develop Advanced Coatings for Biomass Conversion Systems

June 8, 2015 — HiFunda has been awarded a new Phase I SBIR grant to develop low-cost plasma spray coatings for metal components in Biomass Conversion Systems. Combustion chambers in biomass energy conversion systems are exposed to a highly corrosive and varied chemical environment due to the wide range of input biomass materials making the material requirements very challenging to achieve extended lifetime performance. In this project HiFunda will develop extremely durable protective coatings that can be applied to low cost conventional stainless steel materials and demonstrate their corrosion resistance in simulated operating environments. By extending lifetime durability and enabling highly variable biomass feedstock sources the cost competitiveness of this technology will improve and allow for widespread adoption of this promising energy generation technology.

DOE Awards HiFunda Additional $1 Million to Continue Turbine Coatings Development

April 14, 2015 — The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded HiFunda LLC an additional $1 Million project for a two-year Phase IIA STTR project to continue the development of advanced thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) for gas turbines. The new project is aimed at further improvements in performance, and reductions in the cost of TBCs that can help to increase the operating temperature, and therefore energy efficiency, of next generation gas turbines.

HiFunda wins New DOE Grant to Develop Advanced Membranes for Oxygen Separation

February 17, 2015 — HiFunda has been awarded a new Phase I SBIR grant to develop advanced membranes for oxygen separation from air. The project, which will be executed in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, will result in new membrane materials with improved mixed conducting properties that will allow higher oxygen permeation rates in pressure driven operation. It is anticipated that the new technology developed through this program can improve the economics of on-site oxygen production for coal gasification in power plants resulting in significant savings to plant operators.

HiFunda Forms New Entity – Solution Spray Technologies – for Commercialization of Novel Plasma Spray Technology

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, February 6, 2015 — HiFunda has teamed with two world-renowned experts in plasma spray technology, Prof. Eric Jordan and Prof. Maurice Gell, to form a new entity – Solution Spray Technologies, LLC (SST). SST will commercialize novel plasma spray technology developed at the University of Connecticut. SST has executed an exclusive licensing agreement with UConn for new coating compositions, methods and applications based on the novel process of solution precursor plasma spray (SSPS) process, which UConn researchers have championed for the past few decades. SST is a Delaware company, with primary operations in Connecticut.

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“We are very excited to work with SST to commercialize the SPPS technology, and believe that the combination of our faculty experts and the business team provides a powerful opportunity for success,” said Donna Cyr, Licensing Director at UConn.

HiFunda and UConn have worked together for the past three years on joint projects for utilizing the SPPS technology for thermal barrier coatings in gas turbines and membranes for gas separation. “SPPS-based coatings can have a game-changing impact on many fields such as thermal barrier coatings for gas turbines,” said Prof. Jordan, who is the Chief Operating Officer of SST.

“There is a critical need for new materials and processes that can increase performance of advanced energy systems, and SST is ideally positioned to exploit these opportunities,” said Prof. Gell, Chief Technology officer of SST, who spent over 20 years in the gas turbine industry prior to his UConn/SST tenure.

HiFunda’s President, Balky Nair, will serve as SST’s Chief Executive Officer, and brings 15 years of experience from leadership roles in prior ventures such as Oscilla Power, Inc., OPI Downhole LLC and EmiSense, Inc (now Emisense Technologies LLC), as well as technology development experience from Ceramatec, Inc. and Argonne National Laboratory to this new venture.

HiFunda LLC Announces Participation in University of Connecticut Technology Incubation Program
Energy-Focused Technology Incubator to Create New Coating Solutions

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, July 15, 2013 — HiFunda LLC, has announced today that it has been accepted to a well-regarded technology outreach program at the University of Connecticut. UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) has brought many ideas and start-up companies forward – idea to development and testing to fledgling companies. TIP is charged with accelerating the successful establishment and development of entrepreneurial companies, and they seek to work with the very best and brightest.

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“We are pleased to admit a company such as HiFunda to the TIP program. The company’s area of focus complements UConn’s research expertise and the company already has set up a collaboration with two of our faculty,” said Rita Zangari, Director of Industry Partnerships. “We look forward to the discoveries that are likely to come out of this partnership.”

HiFunda is working on commercialization of new thermal barrier coating (TBC) materials for gas turbines which could significantly increase the efficiency of the turbines, thereby decreasing the cost of energy production. HiFunda and UConn will work together to transfer this technology from the incubator facility on campus to an independent business.

“HiFunda is directly addressing the need for novel materials and technology solutions for one of today’s greatest energy-related challenges,” said Maurice Gell,  University of Connecticut Materials Science and Engineering Professor and the principal investigator on a US Department of Energy funded co-development project with HiFunda. “We are excited to be working with HiFunda, given their experience and proven ability to successfully commercialize early stage energy technology.”

HiFunda has established a site in Mansfield, Connecticut for an engineering group that will work closely with the Uconn team to transfer the technology. This team will work to position the technology for joint development with major industrial partners and ultimately prepare the technology for licensing. Planned next steps will include formulating an independent company with equity participation from both HiFunda and UConn.

“New materials solutions we are working on with the HiFunda team have shown improved high temperature capability,” said Eric Jordan, Professor of Advanced Materials Processing at UConn. “This partnership addresses a problem the gas turbine industry has been trying to solve for over fifteen years.”

About HiFunda LLC

HiFunda LLC is working on materials technologies that can help to bring smarter, safer, environmentally friendly and energy efficient technology solutions to market. We are a technology incubator that develops innovative materials-based solutions that can become high-potential energy opportunities. We rapidly reduce technology risk and increase technology readiness level of these solutions through product development and R&D. HiFunda prepares the solution for commercialization and recruits experienced management to lead the project. In 2009, HiFunda created its first new entity, Oscilla Power, Inc., ( a renewable energy company with applications based on innovative materials technology.

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HiFunda Awarded $1 Million by DOE for Turbine Coatings Development

April 22, 2013 — HiFunda LLC has been awarded a 2-year $1 Million project by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop advanced thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) for gas turbines.  The new project is aimed at developing an advanced TBC that can help to increase the operating temperature, and therefore energy efficiency, of next generation gas turbines. In this project, HiFunda LLC and the University of Connecticut (UConn) will team to demonstrate an advanced TBC with a unique chemistry and microstructure, which has higher use temperature, greater erosion resistance, improved sintering resistance, and lower effective thermal conductivity compared to the widely used yttria-partially stabilized zirconia (YSZ) top coats.  This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program project was competitively selected by DOE and is managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Find more information on the project on the DOE website.

HiFunda Assignee Oscilla Power to Develop Magnetostrictive Energy Harvesters 
Oscilla Power Initially Focused on Ocean Wave Energy and Downhole Power 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, December 15, 2009.  HiFunda, LLC announced today the execution of key agreements with Oscilla Power, Inc., which was founded to develop and commercialize a novel wave energy harvester based on technology originally developed at HiFunda.

“We are very excited to be launching Oscilla Power to pursue the tremendous opportunity in the fields of wave energy and downhole power,” said Balky Nair, CEO of HiFunda. “After laying down foundational intellectual property and assessing the cost reduction potential of magnetostriction, we have determined that there is a cost-effective, low-maintenance process for generating energy reliably, in ways never considered in this space.”

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HiFunda identifies materials-based approaches that could provide viable solutions for high-potential energy opportunities, then acts as a technology incubator to mature these ideas. Through research and product development, the solutions are groomed for commercialization. HiFunda recruits leadership teams to lead projects that are approaching readiness for the marketplace. Then, as in the case with Oscilla Power, the new company licenses or is assigned the HiFunda technology, with HiFunda securing an equity stake in the new venture, which takes the product through additional R&D and then to market.

“The HiFunda team has done a great deal of in-depth research to prepare this technology for the marketplace,” said Rahul Shendure, CEO of Oscilla Power. “Oscilla Power is now well-positioned to launch into bench testing, prototype development and in-situ testing of the proprietary, high-impact energy harvesting solutions due to the efforts of HiFunda.”

About HiFunda LLC

HiFunda LLC is working on materials technologies that can help to bring smarter, safer, environmentally friendly and energy efficient technology solutions to market. We are a technology incubator that develops innovative materials-based solutions that can become high-potential energy opportunities. We rapidly reduce technology risk and increase technology readiness level of these solutions through product development and R&D. HiFunda prepares the solution for commercialization and recruits experienced management to lead the project. In 2009, HiFunda created its first new entity, Oscilla Power, Inc., ( a renewable energy company with applications based on innovative materials technology.