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ClearFlame Engines Receives $1.1 million SBIR Grant from Department of Energy

ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a startup company dedicated to the development of clean engine technology, has been awarded a 2-year, $1.1 million Phase II grant from the Department of Energy’s SBIR program.

The funding will support the company’s continued research and development work for its breakthrough clean engine technology for the heavy-duty truck, off-highway, and industrial markets.

ClearFlame has developed a unique engine technology that enables low-carbon and carbon-negative fuels to be easily integrated into existing diesel engine platforms, offering a more sustainable and cost-effective solution than diesel fuel. It provides the same performance, fuel efficiency and rugged practicality associated with diesel engines, while eliminating the need for complex aftertreatment solutions. 

By replacing 100% of the petroleum fuel used with decarbonized fuels such as ethanol, ClearFlame’s engine technology significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter and smog, helping to meet stringent global emissions regulations while reducing overall engine cost. 

“This DOE grant represents an important step forward in helping us to continue the development work critical to enabling future commercialization of our technology,” said Dr. BJ Johnson, CEO and co-founder of ClearFlame in an announcement. “As emissions regulations continue to evolve, engine manufacturers need solutions today that are easy to implement, cost-effective and most importantly, have a positive impact on climate change. We believe ClearFlame’s engine technology can help accelerate that path to cleaner heavy-duty diesel engines.” 

ClearFlame has previously received over $2 million in non-dilutive grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, the Department of Agriculture, the Midwest Energy Research Consortium and Stanford University. 

PrevIous coverage

ClearFlame Engine raises $3 million -April 21, 2020

Ag Startup Engine invests in ClearFlame Engines -Jan. 31, 2019

ClearFlame Engines Receives $1.1 million SBIR Grant from Department of Energy | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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