V-Glass among 25 finalists in NASA energy competition

A Pewaukee-based vacuum glass company is among the 25 finalists in a NASA energy competition.

The 2018 NASA iTech initiative is being held by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate to find solutions for problems on Earth and prepare for future challenges in space exploration. It’s managed by the National Institute of Aerospace in Virginia.

V-Glass was founded in 2008 by CEO Peter Petit, a researcher with 30 years of industry experience. He’s developed a vacuum seal process for windows that reduces heat loss.

The company has received over $1.6 million in grants including funding from the Small Business Innovation Research program, according to the company website. And in 2013, V-Glass took first place in the advanced manufacturing category of the Governor’s Business Plan Competition.

In a Youtube video produced by Petit, the company’s product is described as a “radically new” type of insulating window.

Dual-pane windows use separate sheets of glass often separated by argon, which conducts about a third as much heat as air. By comparison, Petit says his vacuum glass conducts none.

“Making it into the top 25 as a semifinalist for a NASA iTech cycle is no easy feat for the entrepreneurs. The quality and creativity of the proposals we receive to address some of space exploration’s toughest technical objectives are always very impressive, and it’s tough to make the cut,” said Kira Blackwell, NASA iTech program executive for STMD.

Other contestants’ ideas include nanotechnology for energy storage, a commercial nuclear power system for space operations, 3D additive manufacturing of solar cells and much more.

NASA is working with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency on Energy — ARPA-E — to evaluate ideas from small and large businesses, universities and other government organizations.

They called for ideas in the following focus areas: regenerative fuel cells, high-energy-density batteries and supercapacitors, solar power systems, small fission power systems, power management and distribution, and “X-Factor Energy” — a catch-all category.

Blackwell says “this cycle is unique, as it addresses groundbreaking approaches within energy-specific focus areas that could solve important problems here on Earth and in the space community.”

The 25 finalists will be evaluated by experts from NASA and ARPA-E based on relevance, chance of success, and potential impact both in space and on Earth.

The top 10 will be announced May 25, and invited to present to NASA and the DOE, business leaders and potential investors at an energy forum planned for mid-June in New York City.

See the full list of finalists and more competition details: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=391101

See more on V-Glass: http://www.vg12.com/

–By Alex Moe