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Professor Avi Ulman and Co-Founders Win New Round of DOE Funding


The Plasmonic Ribbon could proudly bear a “Made in Brooklyn” label. The energy-transducing material is the brainchild of MIT-trained physicist and serial entrepreneur Joe Habib, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Avi Ulman, and Richard Day, a 2015 Tandon graduate who had studied chemical engineering.

Founded in 2016, the trio’s company, Aquaneers, recently received a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, aimed at allowing them to demonstrate the viability of using the Plasmonic Ribbon for the photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methanol using an optically powered flow-reactor. If they are successful, methanol could be synthesized from sustainably sourced CO2 and H2 feedstocks, stemming the accumulation of atmospheric CO2 while providing a truly sustainable energy source.

Aquaneers has already received Phase I and II SBIR grants totaling more than $1 million for its Solar Desalination project; the 3D printed body of their desalinator prototype was created right at the Tandon MakerSpace.