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ARPA-E Awards $130M for 66 Disruptive Energy Projects
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November 29, 2012

ARPA-E Awards $130M for 66 Disruptive Energy Projects

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

The transformational energy products of the future are receiving funding today. U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced $130 million in financing for 66 cutting-edge research projects through the OPEN (News - Alert) 2012 program.

The OPEN 2012 projects will focus on a wide array of technologies, including advanced fuels, next-generation vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power and energy storage.

The incubator program, administered by the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), seeks out leading-edge technologies that show fundamental technical promise, but are too embryonic for private-sector investment. These projects have the potential to yield game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology and form the foundation for entirely new, lucrative industries.

The selected projects encompass 11 technology areas in 24 states, and support the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to solving America’s most pressing energy challenges.

“With ARPA-E and all of the Department of Energy’s research and development efforts, we are determined to attract the best and brightest minds at our country’s top universities, labs and businesses to help solve the energy challenges of this generation,” said Secretary Chu. “The 66 projects selected today represent the true mission of ARPA-E—swinging for the fences and trying to hit home runs to support development of the most innovative technologies and change what’s possible for America’s energy future.”

The winning projects were selected through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of full applications. About 47 percent of the projects are being led by universities, 29 percent by small businesses, 15 percent by big businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs, and 1.5 percent by not-for-profits.

Information on all of the newly funded projects is available here – among them:

Electron Energy Corporation, Landisville, PA ($2,904,000)Improved Manufacturing For High-Performance Magnets: A technology to manufacture permanent magnets that are both stronger and lower-cost than those available today. This technology would supply the growing market of wind turbine generators and electric vehicle motors with alternative higher-performance materials, compared to the imported rare earth magnets currently used in these machines.

Grid Logic, Incorporated, Lapeer, MI ($3,800,000)Low-Cost, High-Temperature Superconducting Wires: A less expensive and more innovative superconducting wire for electric utility applications. Such a wire would reduce the cost of transmission lines, motors for wind turbines, and other electric devices.

Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (News - Alert) ($399,901)Photonic Radiative Day-Time Cooling Devices: A coating for the rooftops of buildings and cars that reflects sunlight and allows heat to escape, enabling passive cooling, even when the sun is shining. This device requires no electricity and would reduce the need for air conditioning, leading to energy and cost savings

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND ($472,586)Novel Dry Cooling Technology for Power Plants: An air-cooled device for power plants that helps maintain water and power efficiency during electricity production with low environmental impact. The University of North Dakota’s device uses an air-cooled adsorbent liquid that retains and releases moisture to cool power plants that could result in efficient power production with minimal water loss.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkley, CA ($1,940,719)Automated Modeling and Simulation of Existing Buildings for Energy Efficiency: A portable system comprising sensors and computer hardware that rapidly generates indoor thermal and physical building maps. This mapping technology allows for cost-effective evaluation of heat loss and building inefficiencies.

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ ($612,131)Energy-Efficient Electrochemical Capture and Release of CO2: An innovative electro-chemical technology for the capture of carbon dioxide coming from power plants. ASU’s technology aims to cut both the energy use and the cost in half, compared to current methods.

GE Global Research, Niskayuna, NY ($4,071,019)High-Voltage and High-Power Gas Tube Technology for HVDC Transmission: A new electrical power switching technology for high-voltage transmission lines. Currently, electricity is routed using silicon-based switches that require multiple devices to function at high voltages. GE will develop a robust, gas-based switch that could reduce the cost of transmission infrastructure, improve grid reliability, and facilitate renewable technology deployment

Dioxide Materials, Inc., Champaign, IL ($3,997,437) - Enabling Efficient Electrochemical Conversion of Carbon Dioxide into Fuels: A technology to produce transportation fuels and industrial chemicals electrochemically from carbon dioxide emitted by power plants. Dioxide Material’s approach would improve conversion efficiency and reduce energy input—to cut costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

This announcement brings ARPA-E’s total portfolio of projects to about 285 projects, for a total of approximately $770 million in awards.

ARPA-E’s first funding opportunity, OPEN 2009, was issued three years ago and was similarly an open call to America’s top scientists and engineers for transformational energy technology solutions. ARPA-E’s previously selected projects already have made major progress, by demonstrating the world’s first 400 Wh/kg lithium-ion battery poised to revolutionize the electric vehicle industry; building a wind turbine, inspired by the design of jet engines that could deliver 300 percent more power than existing turbines of the same size and cost; and engineering a high power laser drilling system that can penetrate hard rock formations over long distances and is 10 times more economical than conventional drilling technologies.

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Edited by Braden Becker

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