Advanced Energy Materials, LLC Awarded NSF Phase II

A startup company at UofL, Advanced Energy Materials, LLC (AdEM) was awarded NSF Phase II, $750K and is now eligible to seek additional matching funds from the state. The company was founded by Mahendra Sunkara, Conn Center Director, in 2010 to translate the technology developed in U of L laboratory to the commercial space. Vasanthi Sunkara, an MBA graduate from UofL and long-time employee of Louisville Water Company later on joined the startup to lead the business operations. Several students from the Conn Center also helped out with the initial stages of the startup.

AdEM is focused on scale-up and commercialization of inorganic nanowire materials and new nanoscale materials for clean tech energy technologies. They licensed the bulk production of nanowire technology from UofL and is currently involved in designing and developing high performance catalysts, adsorbents and batteries. Their first product was a high performance catalyst called “AdeSulfur” and is used for removing sulfur from a variety of fuels.

“Sulfur removal from fuels is important as it can produce acid rain, increase harmful emissions and hamper the performance of several systems,” said Founder, Mahendra Sunkara.
AdEM first applied for Phase I grants from the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy and received its first SBIR Phase I grant of $180K from NSF in January of 2011 then received SBIR matching funds of $150K from Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s funding program. The Phase II proposal was turned down as its intended commercial partner, Li-ion battery maker, was sold to Chinese investors.

Again AdEM won another Phase I grant of $180K for its proposal on nanowire based materials for catalyst applications which they started in January of 2013 along with a second matching funds grant of $150K and went on to receive a Phase II grant of $750K in September of 2014. They are now eligible to receive matching funds from KY Cabinet for Economic Development along.

“This award will allow us to scale-up our technology to ton/day scale,” said Sunkara. “At this scale, we should be able to attract real customers and allow us to become part of Launchpad as well.”

AdEM was also nominated for a TiE50 award and was awarded one of the TiE Top 50 awards in April 2014 at the TiE convention held at the Santa Clara Convention Center.