A three-day conference held in October at the Morgantown Energy Technology Center provided the opportunity to meet with nearly 300 people involved in the development, use, or regulation of U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored environmental technologies. The METC-sponsored conference, Environmental Technology Development Through Industry Partnership, was a forum for the exchange of information among technology developers, users, financiers, and regulators from government, industry, and academia. DOE focus area program managers defined opportunities for collaboration between DOE's Office of Science and Technology and technology innovators from the business sector.
Clyde Frank, deputy assistant secretary of DOE's Office of Science and Technology, said OST serves as a market for the private sector, because small business is big in terms of providing solutions. Forty-five percent of OST's budget is used to fund entities outside the DOE complex, with 28 percent going to the private sector, nine percent to interagency agreements, and eight percent to universities. Frank mentioned the Rapid Commercialization Initiative as a recently undertaken project co-sponsored by DOE to assist small businesses in three ways to bring to market their near-commercial environmental technologies -- finding appropriate sites for demonstration/testing; verifying performance and cost performance; and expediting permit issuance.
Tom Bechtel, the director of METC, expressed OST's preference toward buying existing environmental technologies as opposed to developing new ones. METC provides technical management services and ensures that proposals received respond to focus area needs. METC helps OST find industrial partners outside the DOE complex not only to develop and demonstrate innovative technologies, but also to use tested technologies to clean up the complex and commercialize technologies.
During the conference sessions, representatives from DOE's focus areas presented their problems, needs, strategies, and resources and emphasized the role private industry can play in meeting identified needs.
The conference was also an opportunity to view posters highlighting the technologies, results, applications, benefits, and current activities of approximately 30 projects funded by the focus areas through contracts managed by METC. During the main sessions, industry and academic researchers presented 25 projects representing technologies supported by the mixed waste, decontamination and decommissioning, plumes, and landfills focus areas.