A startup company using technology developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is one of 14 competitors picked for the Department of Energy's "America's Next Top Innovator" challenge.
The public can help pick the winner by voting online at energy.gov/top innovator through Feb. 5.
Vorbeck Materials, of Jessup, Md., is using technology developed at the DOE national lab in Richland to build better lithium-ion batteries.
Researchers at PNNL, working with Vorbeck and Princeton University scientists, demonstrated that adding small quantities of high-quality graphene to battery materials can dramatically improve their performance.
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The new material in Vorbeck's batteries stores twice as much electricity at high charge and discharge rates as current lithium-ion batteries. That makes charging faster and allows batteries to store larger amounts of energy.
The technology allows cell phones and tablets to charge in 10 minutes for 24 hours of use, and the range of electric cars on a single charge can be extended from 100 to 400 miles, according to Vorbeck.
Vorbeck and the 13 other startup companies in the DOE online contest have signed option agreements allowing them to license technologies developed and patented by a DOE national laboratory or the Y-12 National Security Complex.
"We've challenged America's entrepreneurs and innovators to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a statement.
An expert panel also will evaluate and rank the companies before one is picked to be featured at the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, where clean energy investors and innovators will gather at the end of February in Washington, D.C.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org