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Santa Ana District Office Success Stories

Santa Ana District Office Success Stories


Fontana, Calif. based small business becomes client of TriTech SBDC, secures SBIR award, sees potential commercial applications for technology developed under grant funding by the Department of Defense

SANTA ANA, CA – Research and development of new technologies and products can be prohibitively expensive for a small business to consider, but a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant provided by the Department of the Navy to Fontana, Calif. based Hal Technology, Inc., will help the company do exactly that.

The company, which designs and manufactures environmental monitoring instruments, received the award in response to the Department of the Navy’s 2012 annual SBIR solicitation.  In the solicitation, one of the topics identified by Navy as being a priority for R&D was to develop a dust sensor for real-time engine health monitoring.  Given that prolonged sand and dust exposure leads to gas turbine component degradation and ultimately failure, a sensor could help identify issues before a catastrophic failure were to occur.  Although primarily designed for military aero-turbine engines, the sensor would also be applicable to civilian aircraft and ground-based vehicles. 

Under Phase I of the award, Hal Technology will produce and demonstrate a prototype sensor capable of measuring load rates which will lay the foundation for development of an advanced composition-capable sensor in Phase II, a first of its kind breakthrough in particle or dust detection technology.  In Phase II, the company will then develop a detailed design and build an advanced prototype sensor ready for integration into the selected engine system for operational assessment such as F135 engines used on US military F-35 fighter jets.  For Phase III of the award, Hal Technology will work with the selected engine OEM to develop a certification plan and perform flight and ground testing.  The immediate benefit of this technology is that it would give early warning for aircraft safety purposes when flying in high dust environments such as sandstorms and volcanic eruption zones. 

“We have a potential to utilize such a technology developed under SBIR funding to advance the existing particle detection technology and add a new capability to existing commercial products.  Particle sensor and instruments have already been used in monitoring clean facilities of electronics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, etc. and now are growing into general public application in outdoor and indoor air quality market for environmental and health concern,” said company owner Dr. Hai Lin. 

Hal Technology, a small business based in Fontana, became a client of TriTech Small Business Development Center after being referred by Mark Weifenbach at California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC).  TriTech is partially funded by the SBA and works with high technology, rapid growth companies by helping them identify capital resources, commercialize new technologies, market products and services, and become investor ready.   The business was established in 2004 by Hai Lin, Ph.D. and got its start as a home-based consulting firm helping other companies develop sensors and other commercial products.  From there, the company expanded its lines of business by offering sales through worldwide manufacturers and distribution channels.  Currently, the business is starting to manufacture its own products in-house.

Through the SBIR program, which was legislated by Congress in 1982 in order to help small businesses fund the technical feasibility of innovative ideas, small businesses can compete for federal research and development grants from participating federal agencies that can be used for early stage feasibility and prototype studies.  Each year, participating federal agencies establish a “shopping list” for small firms describing what technologies are needed and available to fund.  Interested businesses submit proposals based on these identified needs.  For more information including solicitations, awards, news and events, please visit www.sbir.gov.  Local small businesses interested in pursuing SBIR/STTR grants can receive free business consulting through TriTech SBDC.  For more information about TriTech SBDC, please visit www.tritechsbdc.com