New Mexico-based advanced materials company – UbiQD, Inc. – has been awarded a new small business contract by NASA, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for optimisation and scale up of extruded UbiGro® greenhouse films for boosting crop yield in both space and terrestrial applications.
UbiGro Cover utilises a novel quantum dot (QD) polymer system developed by UbiQD that led to multiple orders of magnitude improved fluorescence sunlight durability. The company is licensing technology developed at leading research institutions, including Los Alamos National Laboratory and MIT.
Historically, nanomaterials have struggled to survive the high temperatures needed for twin-screw compounding and blown film extrusion. UbiGro Cover’s quantum dot films maintain high light-conversion efficiency exceeding 90% over thousands of hours of accelerated aging.
Plant trials are underway, and the benefits are expected to be as good or better than those seen with UbiGro Inner. The work builds on previous NASA funding, and may also benefit other applications, including solar. The new NASA contract leverages matching funds that were provided by private investors.
“We’re grateful to have the continued support of NASA and investors, particularly at a time when our patent portfolio is expanding and the industry is urgently needing energy efficiency,” said Hunter McDaniel, UbiQD Founder and CEO. “Growers have been asking for UbiGro Cover, and we’re excited to deliver.”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted the company a key patent on its greenhouse technology. UbiQD patent application US16/612,344 by Bergren et al and titled, “Luminescent optical elements for agricultural applications” (May 2017 priority date) has been allowed. A number of other global patent applications in this field are pending for UbiQD
“Our UbiGro Inner product, which installs under the roof, has been popular with growers having shown great productivity enhancements, and now our team is excited to roll out a full-cover product, called UbiGro Cover,” said Matt Bergren, Chief Product Officer at UbiQD. “The progress that we’re making on extruded films is enabling a whole new class of products for the controlled environment agriculture industry.”
UbiQD, Inc. raised US$7 million in a Series A funding round in December 2020.