ThruPore Awarded Grant from National Science Foundation to Make a Covid-Killing Filter Treatment

New Castle, DE, October 13, 2020 ThruPore Technologies Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a new research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program provides seed funding for novel R&D. The award amount is $256,000 and will be used to develop a new virus-killing chemical catalyst. The award is significant in that it could be the 1st low-cost non-toxic approach to killing COVID-19 and other viruses. ThruPore will commercialize the product into air filtration and PPE markets if successful. The innovation could enable low cost air purification treatments for large buildings by Q3 2021.

ThruPore Technologies Inc. has locations in New Castle, DE and Birmingham, AL and develops customized chemical catalysts, which are critical ingredients in chemical processes. ThruPore’s innovation is their unique carbon manufacturing platform. Back in 2012-2014, ThruPore applied to the NSF and won it’s 1st R&D grant. The company delivered on its research and a figured out how to make highly porous synthetic carbon at large scale volumes. Unlike most chemical catalysts, ThruPore’s carbon works at room temperatures and low pressures.

“This award is a perfect fit for what we are good at — developing innovative catalysts that enable new chemistry and products”, said Dr. Franchessa Sayler, ThruPore’s CEO and Founder. Being synthetic, ThruPore has the unique ability to tune its carbon to different customer specifications. Organic carbon is known to have inconsistency in its structure and purity, being based on wood, charcoal or coconut shells, which nature tends to vary. ThruPore has developed over 50 customized catalysts for various chemical processes over the last 3 years.

The formal name of the award is an NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Grant, entitled, Antiviral Activity of Novel Nitrogen-Doped, Carbon Supported Catalysts Against Covid-19 Surrogates. “NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.” Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR such as this, it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant, which awards up to $1,000,000. ThruPore has plans to apply as soon as critical data is achieved from Phase I.

The R&D work will start immediately and run through Q1 2021. The ideal outcome of the program will be a new activated carbon-supported chemical catalyst that deactivates COVID-19. The new catalyst will be packaged as low-cost treatmentsthat can be self-applied to air filters and PPE masks. The technical landscape is full of potential approaches to kill COVID. Disinfectants and “foggers” use harsh chemicals like bleach, which work on surfaces and can require contact times of up to 30 minutes to take effect. Disinfectants can be harmful to the skin and lungs. All of the ingredients used in ThruPore’s new catalyst are very safe and used in common products. ThruPore plans to go through all needed regulatory organizations, such as the EPA and FDA, to get its products certified.

Other technologies under consideration for air purification in buildings include high end filters (called HEPA), UV light systems, and plasma systems — all of which are very expensive and only cover small spaces. Many PPE already use activated carbon in higher end products as an absorbent, which captures certain particles including viruses. ThruPore’s product will go further, by capturing and killing viruses. Glen Gaddy, ThruPore’s lead investor, Board Member and Managing Member of Robin Hood Ventures said, “This NSF Grant will significantly put the company on an exciting trajectory, and the investors are thrilled with this win.” 

About the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Programs

America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research Program.

About Robin Hood Ventures

Robin Hood Ventures is a group of angel investors, focused on early-stage, high-growth companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. We help entrepreneurs build great companies, providing capital, mentoring, expertise and connections to help companies reach their potential. Robin Hood generally invests $250k to $500k, and collaborates with angels, institutions and VCs in our network. We invest as a single entity in businesses we know and understand, in a way that gets deals done. Since 1999, we have invested in over 50 companies in industries including software, medical devices, biotech, internet and financial technology.

About ThruPore Technologies, Inc.

ThruPore Technologies is an innovative materials company that developed a unique carbon manufacturing platform. ThruPore was founded at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2012 and was launched in 2014 after winning a National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR Grant. ThruPore operates its labs and manufacturing facility in Birmingham, AL and its headquarters are in New Castle, DE.


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