Policy & Regulation, Renewable Energy, T&D, Transmission

ARPA-E awards $130 million for 66 energy technology projects

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced 66 research projects selected by the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to receive a total of $130 million in funding through its “OPEN 2012” program.

ARPA-E seeks out transformational, breakthrough technologies that show fundamental technical promise but are too early for private-sector investment. These projects have the potential to produce breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries and have large commercial impacts.

The selected projects encompass 11 technology areas in 24 states. The OPEN 2012 projects will focus on a wide array of technologies, including advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power and energy storage. The projects were selected through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of full applications.

The projects are based in 24 states, with about 47 percent of the projects led by universities, 29 percent by small businesses, 15 percent by large businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs, and 1.5 percent by non-profits. ARPA-E’s total portfolio of projects is about 285 projects and a total of about $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 have already 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 ten times more economical than conventional drilling technologies.

Information on all projects announced today is available here. Examples of the new projects are below:

Electron Energy Corp., Landisville, Pa. ($2,904,000) — Improved manufacturing For high-performance magnets

Electron Energy Corp. will develop a technology to manufacture permanent magnets that are both stronger and lower cost than those available today, based on a friction consolidation extrusion process. If successful, 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, Lapeer, Mich. ($3,800,000) — Low-cost, high-temperature superconducting wires

Grid Logic will develop a low-cost and innovative superconducting wire for electric utility applications. Using a new manufacturing technique, Grid Logic will embed fine superconducting particles in a combination of metals to induce superconductivity. Such a wire would reduce the cost of transmission lines, motors for wind turbines, and other electric devices.

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D. ($472,586) — Novel dry cooling technology for power plants

The University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center will develop 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.