xTech winner reduces heat for Soldiers with eco-friendly, cool tech

By Francesca Winborn, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR ProgramApril 21, 2023

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WASHINGTON – Warm climates, non-breathable fabric in combat uniforms and heavy equipment means that U.S. Army Soldiers can be hot and uncomfortable on the job. Barrow Green, a winner of the Army xTechSBIR Clean Tech competition, is developing an eco-friendly technology that will bring cool comfort to Soldiers when their environments are heating up.

Greg Stroud, CEO and co-founder of Barrow Green, is a 22-year Army Special Forces Veteran who was motivated to launch the company because of his struggles with remaining cool during extreme heat while deployed. As a result, he founded Barrow Green in 2020, which is based out of Bethesda, MD. Stroud used his military background and a partnership with the Army Research Laboratory to develop a replacement technology for vapor compression systems to cool personal protective equipment in extreme temperatures.

“The Army answer to heat was to ‘drink water,’” Stroud said.” However, clean, fresh water is not always available, and I knew there must be a better way to stay cool in the 21st century.”

As a result, Barrow Green developed a replacement technology to produce a more efficient cooling effect. The product is lighter and smaller than traditional systems, which means it is less cumbersome.

“The Army experiences casualties due to heat-related trauma, so finding a way to keep Soldiers cool could save lives,” Stroud said. “Keeping Soldiers comfortable improves human performance with better focus on the job and increased attention to detail.”

Stroud also shared Barrow Green’s commitment to being a “very green, very clean technology.” When the xTechSBIR Clean Tech competition launched in 2022, the business used it as an opportunity to demonstrate how it could help give Soldiers a competitive edge while also supporting the Army’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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Barrow Green’s technology is also eco-friendly by its elimination of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The cooling technology provides greater efficiency, does not release harmful gases and has been ranked by the Department of Energy as a promising cooling technology.

The xTech Program announced that Barrow Green was a winner of xTechSBIR Clean Tech and received $12,000 in cash prizes and a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research award of up to $250,000.

As a small, nontraditional business, Barrow Green did encounter difficulties prior to its xTech participation. The company did not have the means to create prototypes to demo, so it was difficult to get to a level where the Army was interested. Due to Barrow Green’s participation in xTech, the company completed their Phase I SBIR in March 2023, and are hopeful that their next step will be a Phase II SBIR that will enable them to develop a Minimum Viable Product to show the Army.

“I believe that we are the model company that fits what the SBIR program was designed for,” said Stroud. “It was great when we heard there was a clean tech-specific competition, because that’s exactly what Barrow Green is. The xTech Program stays focused on its goals, and its focus with clean tech brought in a lot of great companies.”

Established in 2018, the Army xTech Program strives to integrate small businesses and nontraditional vendors into the Army’s science and technology ecosystem by providing opportunities for direct exposure to laboratories, program executive offices and program managers from across the Army. Participants receive detailed feedback from Army and DoD stakeholders and have access to training, mentorship, and other support infrastructure as they progress through the competition to determine how best to align their technology solutions with real users and buyers within the Army.

The xTech Program holds several competitions per year, from open-topic competitions such as xTechSearch, to technology-specific competitions targeting specific Army needs and challenges. For all competition information, go to https://www.xtech.army.mil/.

The Army Applied SBIR Program offers Phase I contracts to small businesses and nontraditional vendors with technologies that show technical merit, feasibility​,​ and commercial potential. It also provides funding to businesses capable of helping the Army achieve its goals and earn further federal support in Phase II. The Direct to Phase II award is for already-mature solutions ready for demonstration.

Through the Army Applied SBIR Program, companies engage with technical, acquisition​,​ and operational subject matter experts. These specialists offer insight into the Army’s technological opportunities while guiding them through the Army research and development ecosystem.

The Army Applied SBIR Program releases contract opportunities on a rolling, ad-hoc basis to respond to the Army’s current and expected warfighting technology needs. For eligibility information and a list of open solicitations, please visit the Army SBIR|STTR website.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology provides the American Soldier with a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding, and sustaining the world's finest equipment and services, and by leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs.