Applied Particle Technology wins early-stage grant from NSF

Applied Particle Technology, started by a professor and two doctoral students from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to continue its work toward taking its technology into the commercial market.

Jiaxi Fang, Tandeep Chadha, Pratim Biswas

The one-year, $223,865 grant is from the NSF's Small Business Technology Transfer Program, which provides non-dilutive seed funding and is designed to help early stage companies with innovative technologies that require more research and development to advance commercialization.

The funding allows the team to continue developing their single-step HEPA-grade electronic air-purification system for environments that require high-efficiency removal of the smallest particles, as well as the ability to inactivate pathogens or toxins from the air, all while reducing the overall energy required to provide clean air. This system would provide cleaner air to indoor environments, such as hospital clean rooms, and reduce chances of disease transmission through the air. Because APT's system relies on a filterless technology, it enables reduced energy use as compared to current filtration systems.

With the funding, the team will design the system in preparation to build a scaled-up prototype that will be tested in field conditions.

Applied Particle Technology (APT) was started by Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering; and Jiaxi Fang and Tandeep Chadha, doctoral students in Biswas' lab.

APT provides air treatment systems in environments that require high efficiency removal of tiny particles. The innovative system, which operates without a media filter, can also inactivate pathogens and remove toxic fumes or odors. APT's technology could be used on commercial airplanes, in hospital clean rooms, in buildings, data centers, pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and in other areas where the highest standards of air quality must be maintained with minimal energy use.

The U.S. Small Business Administration partners with five federal agencies in the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR), which requires a small business to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II with the goal of bridging the gap between performance of basic science and commercializing resulting innovations.

The grant is the latest in a series of awards to APT. In November 2015, the team won the $50,000 Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award. In October 2015, the company won the Breakthrough Technology Award at the Midwest Cleantech Open after participating in the Cleantech Open Midwest accelerator, a 20-week program that gives entrepreneurs the resources required to turn startups into sustainable businesses that focus on energy, environmental and economic challenges. APT won a $50,000 Arch Grant in June and took second place in the 2014 Olin Cup competition, winning a $50,000 opportunity investment. APT also was a finalist in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Clean Energy Competition this year and was awarded a small cash prize and mentoring help for the startup.

The team is also working with Emre Toker, managing director of the Washington University Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as Kevin Harding, senior project manager in Facilities Management at Washington University School of Medicine.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.