A Tucson company will receive a $100,000 green technology contract from the EPA for its research and development in repairing corroded water pipelines.
Officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said HJ3 Composite Technologies is among 21 small businesses nationwide awarded the contracts. A total of $2 million was awarded to help companies “develop new solutions to some of our biggest environmental challenges,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
HJ3 Composite Technologies develops infrastructure repair systems for industrial, commercial and residential jobs.
The firm works with national and international companies, and its Arizona clients include Pima and Maricopa counties, Asarco, Freeport-McMoRan, Arizona Power Co., the Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power Co.
“We are very excited about this award, and we are developing a system to scale it on a commercial level,” said Jim Butler, owner and founder of HJ3.
Butler founded the company in 2002 with 18 employees, and it now has 50. It is at 2440 W. Majestic Park Way, south of West Ruthrauff Road and east of Interstate 10.
“We are developing a new automated way of installing high-strength carbon fiber material to strengthen corroded pipelines,” Butler said.
“The result is an increase in productivity by 500 percent,” he said. “Workers can go five times faster in completing the work than in current techniques.”
Butler said fiberglass has been used since 1965 to fix pipelines. In the mid-1980s, carbon fiber was introduced in Japan to repair pipelines.
“Now HJ3 is increasing the rate of production. Instead of repairing 100 feet of pipeline at a time, we can do 1,000 feet at a time.
“We are still developing it. We did a pilot and proved the concept, and now we are developing the system to scale it on a commercial level,” Butler explained.
He said the $100,000 will be used to finalize the prototypes in Phase 1 of the award, which will be completed in October. Butler said the company expects to receive an additional $300,000 for Phase 2, which will be used to commercialize the product.
Arizona is a “major green job-producing state with over 1,700 green businesses and organizations employing more than 30,000 workers in green jobs,” according to the EPA.