Innovation on display during Chain Reaction Innovations’ Demo Day

For 18 months entrepreneurs in the first cohort of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), an early stage entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, have been honing technologies that promote energy efficiency and a more sustainable future.

Funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), CRI innovators have developed their technologies with support from Argonne as well as mentors from the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Purdue University’s Purdue Foundry. Along the way, they’ve garnered accolades and additional grant support to further fuel research and development, and are now seeking commercial partners and seed-round funding to bring their technologies to market.

On Wednesday, their work will go on display at Chicago’s Gleacher Center as these innovators pitch to potential investors. During CRI’s first Demo Day, seven teams will showcase their technologies and emerging companies to investors and members of the energy community. Registration for the event, which is free and open to the public, is now open; attendees can pre-register here.

“With over $1 million in support while working at Argonne for two years, our startups have moved their energy innovations from science fiction to market readiness. Demo Day is their chance to connect with investors and other potential partners to drive further development and eventual commercialization of their technologies,” said CRI Director John Carlisle.

Four CRI teams will be joined by three teams from Innovation Crossroads, CRI’s sister entrepreneurial program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Both Chain Reaction Innovations and Innovation Crossroads are part of the EERE’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs.

Among those presenting are:

FGC Plasma Solutions

FGC Plasma Solutions has developed a novel fuel injection system that uses plasma to stabilize combustion and optimize engine operability. FGC Plasma’s solution reduces the number of trade-offs typically required to manage combustion within engines. The company has designed their system for gas turbines, and has partnered with industry to test the technology in this market. It is also developing solutions for jet and military engines. The technology could increase fuel efficiency and savings, reduce emissions and enable burning of low-energy fuels and re-ignition of jets midflight.

Atlas Energy Systems

Atlas Energy has reengineered a classic approach for energy conversion using no moving parts to create a modern-day solution for energy producers. Using thermionic conversion, a method for direct energy conversion that has been around for more than 100 years, Atlas Energy Systems has created a converter that transforms the heat generated during energy production into electricity, minimizing energy losses. Unlike power plants that require large moving parts like turbines to generate electricity, Atlas Energy’s technology has no moving parts, making it easy to install and maintain. The technology could be deployed in the oil and gas, nuclear and concentrated solar industries to recoup energy losses.

ClearFlame Engines

ClearFlame Engines is taking on two major challenges in the diesel engine market: high levels of toxic emissions and rising fuel costs. They aim to solve these challenges with a combustion system that uses low carbon, renewable liquid fuels to achieve higher efficiency and performance, thereby delivering cost savings and reducing emissions at the same time. The technology can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 percent and reduce soot production. Its design, which has heavy-duty applications, allows manufacturers to meet continually shrinking emission targets while maintaining the superior performance diesel engines are known for.


The BTRFY team is tackling the rising demand for protein and the challenges that come with delivering it. Traditional approaches are often unsustainable, eating up significant land, energy and water resources. As a solution, BTRFY’s fermentation process uses fungi to break down food and beverage byproducts and generate edible protein. BTRFY has created a flour with the root of the mycelium fungi called mycoflour, a protein-rich ingredient could be used in any number of food products. Using byproducts of local breweries, BTRFY has developed MycoCrisps, a snack made with mycoflour as its key ingredient. Their approach offers food manufacturers a more sustainable and energy-efficient method for making edible proteins.

CRI’s innovators will be joined by three companies from Innovation Crossroads, an entrepreneurship program based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  • Active Energy Systems – Advanced Ice Thermal Energy Storage
  • Sky Nano – Low-Cost Carbon Nanotubes from Carbon Dioxide
  • TCPoly – Advanced Materials to Enable High Volume Additive Manufacturing

Visit the CRI Website for more information about the 2018 Demo Day and register for the event.

EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) supports early-stage research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing and promote American economic growth and energy security.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

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