DOE Funds 41 New Energy Technology Programs

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy or ARPA-E, under the ARPA-E’s OPEN 2015 program, will award and fund 41 innovative energy technologies. The said program will shell out $125 million to support the projects.

The OPEN 2015 projects will be done in 21 states and include 10 technical categories that consist of electricity generation and delivery, and energy efficiency.

Ernest Moniz, the U.S. Energy Secretary said, “The projects selected highlight how American ingenuity can spur innovation and generate a wide range of technology options to address our nation’s most pressing energy issues.”

Below are the 10 technical categories and some of the new projects that will be funded by ARPA-E in each category as written on their website:

Building Efficiency

Paintable Heat-Reflective Coatings for Low-Cost Energy Efficient Windows
University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO – $3,955,218

The team led by the University of Colorado Boulder will develop an inexpensive, polymer-based energy-saving material that can be applied to windows. The coating can self-assemble into a photonic crystal that will reflect near-infrared wavelengths but pass visible light, thus reducing solar heat gain for most windows, thereby reducing building cooling requirements. The paintable nature of this technology means that deployment can be faster, less expensive, and wide-spread.

Industrial Processes and Waste Heat

Revolutionary Process for Low-Cost Titanium
Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation, Natick, MA – $2,279.027

Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation will develop a molten oxide electrolysis process for titanium extraction. The team projects that they can replace the state-of-the-art, multistep Kroll process with a single one-step process that resembles today’s aluminum production techniques. If successful, titanium ingots could be produced at cost parity with stainless steel, opening the doorway to titanium industrial heat recovery and naval applications and increasing its adoption in commercial aircraft. This shift could result in energy savings in the respective sectors of 4 Quads and 0.7 Quads per years in the U.S. alone.

Data Management and Communication

Low Power Consumption, Ultra-High Speed VCSELs for Optical Communication
Princeton Optronics, Trenton, NJ – $1,120,000

Princeton Optronics will develop a sub-millimeter scale laser integrated on a chip known as a Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) for use in data transmission. The team’s laser is anticipated to have reduced resistance and capacitance, enabling higher speed and lower energy loss. Creating VCSELs with a 10x improvement in speed and a 10x reduction in energy consumption per bit is an enabling technology for widespread implementation of optical communication to reduce energy consumption in data centers.

Wind, Solar, Tidal, and Distributed Generation

Ultrahigh Efficiency Photovoltaics at Ultralow Costs
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO – $5,160,000

Researchers at National Renewable Energy Laboratory will develop an HVPE (Hydride Vapor Phase Epitaxy) deposition process for producing high quality, photovoltaic cells with potential to achieve up to a 30 percent efficiency target. This manufacturing technology has the potential to be an order of magnitude lower cost than current state-of-the-art technologies, thus enabling larger scale development of efficient solar cells.

Grid-Scale Storage

High-Efficiency Alkaline Water Electrolyzers for Grid Scale Energy Storage
Dioxide Materials, Inc. Boca Raton, FL – $2,000,000

Dioxide Materials, Inc. will develop an alkaline water electrolyzer for an improved power-to-gas system, which is used to store energy in the hydrogen chemical bond. High conductivity membranes that can function under alkaline conditions could lead to a 10x lower electrolyzer stack cost because they allow higher current densities and enable systems that do not require platinum catalysts.

Power Electronics

Plasma-based AC-DC Transformer for HVDC Transmission
Tibbar Technologies, Los Alamos, NM – $3,500,000

Tibbar Technologies will develop an AC-DC transformer that uses no capacitors or semiconductor switches. The device will rely on helical coils that induce output current and voltage through electrodes at the ends of plasma. The resulting devices have the potential to be half the cost and yield power densities than state-of-the-art transformers, potentially providing an innovative new enabling technology for HVDC transmission.

Power Grid System Performance

Coordinated Operation of Electric and Natural Gas Supply Networks: Optimization Processes and Market Design
Newton Energy Group, LLC, Boston, MA – $2,904.745

The project team led by Newton Energy Group, LLC will develop fast, scalable mathematical models and optimization algorithms for dynamic optimization of the operation of natural gas pipeline networks on the time-scales of electric power systems operations. These models and algorithms could enable co-optimized operation of natural gas and electric infrastructures and markets, thereby promoting efficiency in natural gas delivery and use, and coherent gas and electric price formation while reducing energy costs for consumers.

Vehicle Efficiency

Split Micro-hybrid Boosting Enabling Highly Diluted Combustion
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI – $1,923,845

The University of Michigan will develop a high-efficiency engine system that integrates a compact micro-hybrid configuration of a supercharger with an electric waste heat recovery system and employs high rates of recirculated exhaust gasses. When combined with a sophisticated control strategy, this approach provides a solution for suboptimal engine breathing that is typical of transient engine operation. The performance is projected to match that of a naturally aspirated engine, and have a 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared to a turbocharged downsized engine, at a cost that is half that of a mild-hybrid system.

Storage for Electric Vehicles

Transitioning Advanced Ceramic Electrolytes into Manufacturable Solid-state EV Batteries
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI – $3,500,000

The University of Michigan will develop new electrode structures and manufacturing techniques to incorporate Lithium-conducting ceramic electrolytes into solid-state batteries. Solid-state Li batteries could double the energy density of today’s Li-ion cells and also eliminate the use of conventional flammable electrolytes, increasing abuse tolerance and reducing the need for battery thermal management systems.

Alternative Fuels and Bio-energy

Precious Metal Free Regenerative Hydrogen Electrode for Fuel-Cell Vehicles
Pajarito Powder, LLC, Albuquerque, NM – $2,790,000

Pajarito Powder, LLC and its team will develop a reversible hydrogen electrode that would enable cost-effective hydrogen production and reversible fuel cells. The key to this technology is the replacement of precious metal catalysts with low overpotential base metal catalysts to dramatically lower the costs of electrolyzers and fuel cells.

For the complete list of the projects, click here.

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