Third Wave Systems Inc. of Eden Prairie was one of 13 companies chosen Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Energy to participate in a $54 million Innovative Manufacturing Initiative.

The initiative seeks unique technologies and materials that will boost energy efficiency, cut costs and reduce waste in factories across the country.

Third Wave, a 17-year-old computer-aided engineering firm with 28 employees and undisclosed revenue, was chosen from among 250 applicants nationwide. It was the only firm in Minnesota to receive an award.

Third Wave will get $4.07 million from the Department of Energy and invest another $1.1 million of its own to improve software systems that simulate exactly how expensive manufacturing tools will respond under varying speeds, stress or forces created during product fabrication. Company officials also want their simulation software to help companies gauge the effects of coolants on machinery and products.

By simulating the manufacturing process before a big test run, the hope is that customers discover where to make adjustments before they flip on any machine. That can prevent tool breakage, overheating and unnecessary energy drains, explained company spokeswoman Kate Burke. The new award will help Third Wave perfect its technology and help manufacturers sooner, she said. "We are pretty pumped. This is the biggest award we have ever received," Burke said.

Troy Marusich, Third Wave co-founder and chief technical officer, said: "We are proud and honored to be part of this elite group of companies and researchers" that received Tuesday's award. "This award substantiates [our] leadership in the areas of machining modeling and process improvements. We are excited."

The Department of Energy's manufacturing initiative is in response to the Obama administration's efforts to invest in cutting-edge technologies that create well-paying jobs, boost U.S. competitiveness and slash the energy needs in U.S. factories.

"By investing in breakthrough technologies that can drastically reduce the amount of energy consumed during manufacturing, the Energy Department is supporting President Obama's blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. "When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: 'Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world.'''

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725