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Mixing Highly Viscous Materials
  • Award: $850000 USD
  • Challenge closed

Challenge overview

This Challenge is looking for equipment and methods to mix materials of high viscosity over a large viscosity range. More details will be provided in the Detailed Description.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge in three phases that requires a written proposal (Phase I), a demonstration (Phase II) and a full working prototype (Phase III). Solvers winning a Phase will be expected to continue to the next Phase.

Accurate and complete mixing of highly viscous dense paste materials, solids-content greater than 60 volume percent, with unladen polymers is a difficult task. This mixing is complicated by process-sensitive soft-body media that easily cleaves and deforms under moderate applied stresses. The Seeker is looking for innovative ideas, and prototypes, of equipment that can meet their Solution Requirements.

This Challenge will take place in Phases.

Phase I (45 days) – this will be a “Theoretical” Phase where Solvers will be expected to deliver a white paper outlining their proposed method and equipment design with will meet the Solution Requirements. Solvers will be expected to provide evidence (literature data, previous data, etc.) and written arguments to convince the Seeker that the Solver’s proposed solution is accurate, feasible, and producible. Experiments are not required for Phase I, but could be included. Phase I can have up to ten (10) awards at $10,000 each. ($100,000 total) Selected Solvers will be informed within six (6) weeks of the Challenge deadline if they have been selected for the initial award and selected for progression into Phase II of the Challenge.

Phase II (210 days total, 30 days Presentation, 180 days Demonstration)

Phase II Presentation – Upon notification of selection for participation in this phase, the Seeker will deliver to the selected Solvers (from Phase I) an anticipated and/or common use case scenario and outline any additional details that weren’t included in Phase I. The Solvers will then have thirty (30) days to modify their proposed design and deliver an updated presentation not to exceed thirty (30) minutes concerning how their solution addresses the use case scenario and any additional Seeker Requirements. This presentation does not have to include demonstration of a prototype, but Solvers should include any initial work that has been done and address how completion of a demonstrable prototype will be achievable in the Demonstration period of Phase II. Phase II Presentation can have up to five (5) awards at $100,000 each. ($500,000 total)

Phase II Demonstration – Solvers will be expected construct a working prototype based on the designs they presented in the Phase I and Phase II Presentation segments. The Solvers’ prototypes will be required to meet the Solution Requirements and be able to demonstrate successful mixing and extrusion using equivalent materials and under relevant conditions. Every Solution Requirement will NOT need to be met perfectly; however, enough to demonstrate feasibility of being developed into continuous production process. Any Solution Requirement not met will need to be addressed on how it will be achievable in the final prototype. Solution Requirements will be used as part of a grading rubric that will be used to select a winner of the Phase II Demonstration; which can have up to one (1) award at $250,000 for the best “testable” prototype demonstration. “Testable” is defined as something the Seeker has built at their facility and successfully demonstrated operation of to the Judging Panel.

All awards will be contingent upon results of critical analysis and evaluation by the Seeker and the Judging Panel appointed by the Seeker. The Judging Panel may be composed of Federal and/or Non-Federal scientists, engineers, and other technical experts, as deemed appropriate. All persons or entities that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions. Decisions by the Seeker cannot be contested. After the Challenge submission deadline, the Judging Panel will evaluate the submissions and decide which Solvers are selected for Phase I and Phase II and the winning solution identified at the conclusion of the Phase II Demonstration. All Seekers’ decisions are final and cannot be contested.

Phase III – The selected winner of Phase II Demonstration will be expected to have multiple prototypes ready to ship within a maximum of six (6) months of entrance into Phase III. Delivery of these prototypes will enable the Seeker to begin experimental validation in the Seeker’s laboratory and/or field demonstration environment. At the Seekers’ discretion, the Solver may be invited to attend and assist in activities during prototype evaluation. The Solver who makes it to this Phase will work out a new contract agreement for moving forward directly with the Seeker. Note: although there will be only one (1) overall winner, runners up may have chances to continue work with the Seeker or their associates at the Seeker’s discretion.

To receive an award, the Solvers will NOT have to transfer to the Seeker their exclusive Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the solution. The Solvers will provide a perpetual, non-exclusive government use license (see Challenge Specific Agreement (CSA) for details). Solvers will be allowed and encouraged to commercialize their work. Continuation of collaboration with the Seeker (although not guaranteed) is possible at the conclusion of the Challenge.

More details about the Challenge will be given in a webinar (to be scheduled) to those Solvers who make it to Phase II.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on August 8, 2019. Late submissions will not be considered.