In early June, Superfund Research Program small business grantee and Wyoming-based start-up Pollution Control Technologies (PCTech) completed a nine-month NIH Commercialization Accelerator Program (CAP). The competitive program provides NIH's most promising small business grantees with expert mentors to help them establish market and customer relevance, build commercial relationships, and focus on revenue opportunities.
PCTech is in the process of commercializing its X-FA system, a cost-effective tool to capture mercury emissions. The X-FA tool is composed mainly of fly ash, a waste product at power plants that usually requires its own special management. Using an innovative method, PCTech deposits a thin coating of activator material around the recycled fly ash particles to create an X-FA sorbent that can chemically bind to mercury. The X-FA sorbent, which is less expensive than traditional mercury removal technologies, can be produced on-site at power plants and can capture large amounts of mercury.
In a closeout webinar on June 11, PCTech presented its accomplishments during the CAP, as well as its future plans. As part of the program, PCTech created a commercialization strategy toolkit and received individualized mentoring on ways to achieve market readiness.
"NIH CAP benefited us substantially through advising, conference calls, and connections in the industry sector," said PCTech project leader Kaspars Krutkramelis, Ph.D. Krutkramelis and his team are actively beta testing their product with several energy utility companies.
"The program also helped us to brainstorm new ideas related to mercury capture that reaches past our current product," Krutkramelis added. Based on suggestions to seek alternative customers and products for the active chemical compound, PCTech has started testing its product in commercial air purification filters. The company also plans to introduce its product to other sectors that use mercury, such as dentistry, where it is used in dental amalgams.
"NIEHS encourages small business grantees to take advantage of NIH's CAP program," said SRP Health Scientist Administrator Heather Henry, Ph.D. "Participation requires an investment of time; however, we've noticed that small businesses make real breakthroughs as part of the CAP process, resulting in an expanded customer base. PCTech's exploration of the commercial air filter market is a great example of this."