Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Pendleton company named Department of Energy’s Small Business of the Year

Ross Norton //June 6, 2024//

Tetramer was named Small Business of the Year through twin DOE programs designed to encourage innovation and to bring innovation to market. (Photo/Ross Norton)

Tetramer, based in Pendleton, near Clemson University, is working with a team from the University of Chicago on a million-dollar U.S. Army contract. (Photo/Ross Norton)

Tetramer was named Small Business of the Year through twin DOE programs designed to encourage innovation and to bring innovation to market. (Photo/Ross Norton)

Tetramer, based in Pendleton, near Clemson University, is working with a team from the University of Chicago on a million-dollar U.S. Army contract. (Photo/Ross Norton)

Pendleton company named Department of Energy’s Small Business of the Year

Ross Norton //June 6, 2024//

Listen to this article

Tetramer Technologies LLC was named the Small Business of the Year Award by the U.S. Department of Energy at a ceremony earlier this month in Minneapolis.

The  recognition highlights Tetramer’s contributions to environmentally sustainable technologies and their successful commercialization efforts within the energy sector. The SBIR/STTR Small Business of the Year Award recognizes a U.S. small business that exemplifies the spirit of the DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs by enhancing high-technology research and development competitiveness both within the Department of Energy and in the marketplace.

Award recipients are evaluated on their exceptional performance in stimulating U.S. technological innovation, providing benefits from DOE-funded research and development, and contributing to U.S. economic growth through commercialization of innovations, according to a news release.

“This award is a testament to the hard work and innovation of our entire team at Tetramer,” Jeff DiMaio, CEO of Tetramer Technologies, said in the release. “It highlights our commitment to pushing the boundaries of material science to create solutions that meet the ever-growing demands of industry while prioritizing environmental sustainability.”

The award was conferred for Tetramer’s work funded by the DOE Water Power Technologies Office SBIR program. Tetramer developed a biobased, biodegradable, non-toxic, and non-bioaccumulating turbine oil, VBASE Hydro T-EL, designed to meet the rigorous demands of hydropower facilities while being environmentally friendly, according to the release. Central to this achievement is Tetramer’s development of the Secondary Polyol Ester base oil technology, which forms the foundation of VBASE Hydro T-EL.

Zach Hunt, principal investigator on the program, accepted award at the DOE Small Business Forum and Expo.

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor for our team,” he said in the release. “It validates our seven years of continuous effort in creating sustainable and innovative solutions for the hydropower industry. As industries increasingly shift to sustainable lubricants, the DOE’s backing has been crucial in helping us address the unique needs of the hydropower sector.”

Previous story: Tetramer awarded funding to improve environmental safety of turbines

VBASE Hydro T-EL and the larger VBASE SPE base oil line stand out for their unique molecular structure, providing superior performance and compatibility without the environmental drawbacks of traditional petroleum-based lubricants, the release stated. The oil meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for environmentally acceptable lubricants, is listed on the EU Ecolabel LuSC-list, and has achieved USDA BioPreferred certification for its high biobased content.

Tetramer has established key international partnerships to drive the commercial deployment of the turbine oil, VBASE Hydro T-EL. Collaborations with global industry leaders such as GE Renewable Energy and hydropower operators like Natel Energy, Vattenfall, and the Porjus Hydropower Centre Foundation in Sweden underscore the oil’s utility. Additionally, Tetramer has engaged more than 400 lubricant formulators and end users, with more than 60 companies currently evaluating samples. Their first commercial installation in a U.S. hydropower facility is scheduled for later this year, according to the release.

Tetramer has transitioned the commercialization of its base oils and lubricant technology to its subsidiary, VBASE Oil Co. This move was made to enhance the products’ market reach, the release said, with engagements with North American distributor Sea-Land Chemical and European lubricant companies setting the stage for global expansion. Achieving REACH regulatory certification, expected in Q3 2024, will open the $1.5 billion EU synthetic ester base oil market, the company said.

Tetramer Technologies, based in Pendleton, is an advanced materials company dedicated to the development of market-driven materials and transitioning those materials from the lab to market. Tetramer serves as both a research partner and a supplier of proprietary materials. The team includes scientists and engineers with backgrounds in organic, physical, polymer and analytical chemistry, materials science and chemical engineering with expertise in materials design, synthesis, analytical characterization and scale-up, according to the release.

i