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In an effort to improve the performance of first responders during an emergency situation, a $199,260 grant went to Boston-based Protect the Force, Inc. for the development of photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesting fabrics.

PV materials produce electricity through exposure to light. Energy harvesting fabrics produce and store electricity within a fabric weave to power portable devices.

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Protect the Force received its award for its project titled “Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Harvesting Textiles for Homeland Security Ensembles” under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) Other Transaction Solicitation Energy Harvesting Fabrics – HSHQDC-17-R-00050. This is the first award under this solicitation.

Protect the Force will develop PV fiber that can be woven into a “power fabric” and integrated with first responder garments to provide a reliable, portable power source. The power fabric can be used to make first responder gear or placed as panels on protective clothing.

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“Protect the Force’s proposed technology could change how first responders are able to perform during emergencies,” said Melissa Ho, SVIP managing director. “A wearable, portable power source could support safety equipment and communication tools; it has the potential to improve the work of first responders across the nation.”

The first phase will see Protect the Force fabricating and testing the PV fiber and weaving said fiber into a textile matrix.

Companies participating in the SVIP are eligible for up to $800,000 in non-dilutive funding over four phases to adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use cases.

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