Congratulations to Growing Startup on DOE Award

Basudeb Saha

Article by Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance | View Full Article

RiKarbon is a growing startup that we are expecting great things from here in Delaware.  Founded by Dr. Basu Saha and originating from his research at the University of Delaware, this cutting-edge startup was recently awarded a $1.049 million SBIR Phase II grant from the DOE to produce environmentally beneficial lubricants. Dr. Saha’s work will use renewable carbon sources to produce products that will drive sustainability and minimize adverse environmental effects by reducing our dependence on the petroleum-based lubricants currently in use.

RiKarbon will use the DOE funding to focus on producing environmentally acceptable bio-lubricants for applications that have an especially high risk of accidental leakage, such as hydropower production.  Current lubricants consist of 75-90% base oil (usually petroleum-based) plus additives. RiKarbon focuses instead on combining biomolecules from plant-based natural oils (including coconut oil, corn husks, wood chips, vegetable oil) to match the efficacy of petroleum oil. The result is the ability to produce a range of high-efficacy base oils with increased flexibility for formulators and end-users, reduced regulatory challenges, and the potential to reduce the number of additives in end-use formulas. And, of course, these base oils are environmentally friendly. RiKarbon will showcase its products and technology at the 11th annual CEATI Hydropower Conference to be held in Palm Springs from March 2nd to March 4th, 2020.

Says Dr. Saha, “Our bio-lubricant products from sustainably sourced carbon have the ability of mitigate regulatory challenges of equipment operators, lubricant formulators and end-users for applications possessing high risks of accidental discharge. In addition, our products will promote environmental ecosystems and minimize the carbon footprint.”

Outside the DOE grant,  RiKarbon recently entered a Joint Development Agreement with a partner to collaborate and jointly develop lubricant products using RiKarbon’s innovative chemistries and the partner’s formulation and manufacturing expertise.

RiKarbon is another example of Delaware’s hugely co-operative entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founded in 2018, the company received an STTR grant of $150,000 which enabled the team to develop their product on a small scale. They have also participated in DESCA’s TechConnect Workshops and Investor Showcase. Today, RiKarbon is housed at Delaware Technology Park on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus, a state-of-the-art laboratory incubation space with access to resources required by development-stage companies to drive and accelerate their business and are in the process of hiring additional staff to meet their growing needs.