Oklahoma Innovators: NASA awards SBIR contract to Stillwater’s XploSafe

I’ve worked on the periphery of Oklahoma City’s startup community for about two decades, first as a business news reporter at The Oklahoman newspaper, then as communications specialist for i2E, Inc., and now as a freelance writer.

It’s pretty exciting to see local companies announce a breakthrough discovery, a new product or investment that will carry their innovation into the commercial market.

Unfortunately, many worthy developments don’t always make it onto the pages or websites of local news media, whether it’s a newspaper, television or even digital news site.

There are hundreds of voices seeking media attention every day, so it can be pretty daunting to attract the attention of an editor or reporter.

So, I’ve decided that this blog can be a conduit for my entrepreneur friends to find an audience for their news. From time to time, I’ll publish news that comes my way that hasn’t found its way into any other media.

For example, today I want to share some exciting news from a Stillwater-based company called XploSafe. If you don’t know XploSafe, the company describes itself as a provider of “critical safety solutions for homeland security and chemical safety.”

XploSafe has its roots in the Oklahoma State University laboratories of co-founders Allen Apblett, Ph. D., and Nick Materer, Ph. D., both chemistry professors, along with former OSU graduate student Shoaib Shaikh, also a co-founder and now CEO.

I learned about XploSafe more than 10 years ago when Shoaib pitched the concept in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition (now known as the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup).

Since then, XploSafe has expanded its mission beyond explosive detection to chemical vapor sampling and other areas where detection of potentially dangerous materials is critical.

Recently, XploSafe was awarded a $125,000 Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from NASA to develop specialized air filtration units for the next-generation of American space suits.

XploSafe released the exciting SBIR news in mid-October, but received little media attention. I invite you to read their announcement from October 15 below.

Stillwater, OK – 15 October 2020 – XploSafe announced today that it has been awarded a Phase I SBIR contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop specialized air filtration units for the next-generation of American space suits.

The award amount is $125,000 over a six-month period.

These filtration units will help keep the space suit’s internal air-flow free of any toxic, trace contaminants, which naturally build-up while astronauts use their suits. XploSafe aims to capture these contaminants within their proprietary sorbent media, which could then be vacuum regenerated to enable longer spacewalks and substantially improve time in-suit over the duration of a mission. Such a capability will be required for NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions, in which the United States intends to return to the moon by 2024.

The design of XploSafe’s filtration units would provide astronauts with safer air to breathe, as well as lighter, easier to use suits. XploSafe’s filtration unit would be housed within the Exploration Portable Life Support System (xPLSS) backpack of the next-generation xEMU suits, alongside other critical life-support systems. The company holds multiple patents for vapor nanoconfinement technology that facilitates high-capacity absorption, stabilization, and consistent recovery (removal) of a wide range of volatile, semi-volatile, and even reactive organic compounds.

XploSafe’s Operations Manager, Michael Teicheira, had the following to say: “we are ecstatic about this opportunity to showcase the research and development efforts of XploSafe here on the national and even international stage. The prospect of our products enabling astronauts to spend more time in space is an enthralling one, and we are so grateful for this opportunity to show what a small Oklahoma research company can achieve.”

XploSafe based in Stillwater, Oklahoma, is a provider of critical safety solutions for homeland security and chemical safety. Their XploSens explosives detection, XPell peroxide safety products, and XCel+ chemical vapor sampling badges are used by first responders, industrial safety officers, threat assessment officials, and laboratory and chemical manufacturing personnel all over the world.

For questions, please contact Shoaib Shaikh, Co-Founder and CEO, at Shoaib@XploSafe.com, or visit XploSafe online at www.XploSafe.com.

Congratulations to Shoaib and the XploSafe team.