Press Release | Department of Energy Selects Oceanit for Research and Development Award for Acoustic Metamaterials

Energy, In the News, Press Release
  • Award is one of 158 grants totaling $35M nationwide to support scientific innovation and clean energy development
  • Sustainable and renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, are necessary for the long-term health of the planet, yet geothermal wells are a high-risk component of development.
  • Oceanit acoustic metamaterials could provide near real-time assessment of well conditions, vastly improving safety

11 January 2022 | U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced today that Oceanit was awarded one of 158 Department of Energy grants totaling $35 million, awarded to 68 small businesses in 24 states, including projects relating to wind turbine and wind farms, improved battery electrolytes, solar generation of hydrogen, and upcycling of carbon dioxide, along with a wide range of other efforts.

Oceanit’s project will center on developing advanced metamaterials to improve diagnostics for geothermal energy. Building upon previous development of acoustic metamaterials, Oceanit will demonstrate methods to continuously monitor geothermal wells’ mechanical stress states and thermal and chemical condition. Responsive metamaterials effectively turn a well into a sensor, improving monitoring capability and de-risking geothermal development.

Geothermal energy, such as using water from hot springs for bathing and space heating, has been around for millennia. More recently, geothermal power (generating electricity from geothermal energy) has gained in importance, with many scientists believing that the Earth’s geothermal resources can sustainably supply all of humanity’s energy needs. Geothermal holds the promise of clean energy, yet has perplexed those who want to tap into its massive resource, because it also risks emitting toxic fumes, like sulfur gas, sulfuric acid steam and other health challenges.

To address this, Oceanit recently received support from US DOE to investigate constructing a “digital well” by using smart materials to build geothermal well casing.  Over the last several years, Oceanit has developed a variety of nanotechnology and smart materials that can sense and report on operating conditions while also in use.  This work originally started with Oceanit’s DOD research into smart materials that could measure, sense, and report on a variety of conditions, e.g., aircraft stress, corrosion, viruses, etc.  Consistent with Oceanit’s “Intellectual Anarchy” approach to creating disruptive innovation, Oceanit will repurpose some of the fundamental research into a practical, real-world application that they hope will help with energy transformation – providing clean, renewable energy while protecting the local community and environment.

Currently Oceanit is in discussions to develop partnerships with international and national energy companies who would participate in the development effort and have rights to deploy the technology in their geothermal endeavors.

“Supporting small businesses will ensure we are tapping into all of America’s talent to develop clean energy technologies that will help us tackle the climate crisis,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE’s investments will enable these economic engines to optimize and commercialize their breakthroughs, while developing the next generation of climate leaders and helping to build a sustainable future to benefit all Americans.”

DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards aim at transforming DOE-supported science and technology breakthroughs into viable products and services. The awards also support the development of specialized technologies and instruments that aid in scientific discovery.

Expansion of sustainable geothermal power is a critical part of reducing greenhouse emissions and preventing catastrophic warming of the planet. Oceanit’s acoustic metamaterials can reduce the safety risks involved in geothermal development. Sustainable and renewable energy sources, such as solar, hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal, are necessary for the long-term health of the planet and Oceanit is committed to energy transformation and a carbon-free energy future.

“This is part of our overall energy transformation strategy,” said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Oceanit’s CEO, “we need to reduce impact immediately from current energy sources while simultaneously create and develop new energy sources. To effectively do this, we consider the entire energy business ecosystem – exploration & production, transmission, refining, distribution, carbon sequestration and new energies.”

Founded in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1985, Oceanit is a privately held, award-winning innovation company that works to solve important problems across sectors like aerospace, energy, environment & climate, ocean sciences, health, and materials. A ‘Mind to Market’ company, Oceanit employs the unique discipline of Intellectual Anarchy to transform fundamental science developed in the lab into impactful technologies for the market. Oceanit creates cutting-edge solutions, services, and products recognized for excellence in advanced technology R&D and aimed toward delivering the future for the next 100 years.

This is one of two DOE grants awarded to Oceanit in support of sustainable energy development in the latest round of DOE solicitations.  More information about all the projects announced by DOE today is available at the following link: