ThruPore Technologies, a University of Alabama start-up company, has earned a $150,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop a new catalyst for the petrochemical industry.
The company plans to use the grant to help prove through additional research that its catalysts are less expensive to produce and have superior properties to those currently on the market.
Martin Bakker, a University of Alabama associate professor of chemistry who co-founded the company with Franchessa Sayler, said the grant will have a ripple effect.
“The company will acquire a new, high throughput reaction system to run 24 reactions in parallel,” Bakker said. “It will be shared by the students at UA and ThruPore Tech. This means that the students working on the project will become exposed to state-of-the-art instrumentation, as well as being involved in a project with direct industrial relevance.”
The company is headquartered in the university’s Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs building. Kevin Shaughnessy, associate professor and chair of chemistry, is co-principal investigator on the grant. The grant, which begins Jan. 1, will enable the company to soon hire another full-time employee and also provide full-time support of a graduate student, Bakker said.
In addition to further testing, company representatives will also seek feedback from the industry to further gauge the market potential of their product.
ThruPore Technologies was one of three UA start-up companies advancing to the finals of the spring 2013 Alabama Launchpad start-up competition. The company earlier landed a $50,000 NSF Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, grant where it worked, along with Scott Spear, AIME research engineer, to obtain preliminary research results that helped lead to the latest grant.
“We will also be developing some new catalysts that have similar structures and so should have similar properties, but which are made by more efficient processes to make it easier to scale-up production,” Bakker said.