DOE to award $12.3 million for energy efficient and clean energy projects

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 18, 2003 — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the award of $12.3 million to 21 broad-based, cost-shared research projects that will simultaneously advance energy efficiency and fossil energy technologies.

The projects promote crosscutting systems in different research fields designed to be applied to both areas of science.

“A strong commitment to leading-edge science is necessary in order to develop energy efficiency and clean energy technologies,” Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. “Addressing crosscutting science needs within DOE maximizes the taxpayers’ return on investment in key technology areas such as solid-state lighting, membranes that produce hydrogen, advanced fuels and chemicals, solid oxide fuel cells, as well as process sensors and controls.”

This crosscutting approach seeks to broaden DOE’s energy efficient and clean energy research and development work while expanding and formalizing existing cooperation between DOE’s offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Fossil Energy.

Bridge research and development falls between exploratory research – traditionally pursued by universities – and applied research and development – pursued by private sector firms. This middle ground of research, crucial to identifying and proving the feasibility of multiple potential applications of a fundamental scientific discovery, is often overlooked.

The projects, managed by universities and companies in 13 states, will run from one to three years and target scientific developments in the following broad technology areas:

Materials, including developing higher-performance and less-expensive materials for energy-efficient lighting such as electro-optical and luminous substances, membranes for hydrogen production, and cathode materials used in fuel cell production;

Fuels and Chemicals, including computational chemistry and synthesis gas science needed to make better, cleaner fuels from synthetic gas;

Sensors and Controls, including process optimization, emissions reduction and sequestration, extreme environments (FE applications) to building systems integration (EERE applications) and embedded sensors could benefit from projects in this area; and

Energy Conversion, including converting heat into electricity by advancing research in motor-control and power-conversion technologies as well as direct thermal-to-electric energy converters.

Following are Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy/Office of Fossil Energy 2003 Science Initiative Selections:

Alfred University, Alfred, NY – To determine rare earth aluminosilicate glass materials suitability as seal glasses for high-intensity discharge lamps and fuel cells. Glass and sealing concepts will be tested in HID lamps and planar fuel cell stacks. Benefits include the potential to design unsaturated lamps with much higher efficiencies as well as improved fuel cell design. DOE share, $500,000; applicant share, $162,359.

Georgia Tech Research Corp., Atlanta, GA – To develop a new lattice-matched, solid-state emitter using non-native III-Nitride substrates such as AlGaN on lithium gallate and GalN on zinc oxide, and techniques that minimize residual defects. DOE share, $500,000; applicant share, $100,000.

Lumileds Lighting U.S., LLC, San Jose, CA – To design, make and integrate nanoscale photonic crystal structures into light-emitting diodes to increase external quantum efficiency. DOE share, $500,000; applicant share, $100,000.

Boston University, Boston, MA – To develop a membrane device that conducts oxygen and separates hydrogen from hydrocarbon reformate in a membrane reactor to get a hydrogen flux and purity level that equals enough current density to power a PEM fuel cell. DOE share, $479,999; applicant share, $122,675.

University of Florida, Gainesville, FL – To provide a better understanding of specific ion-conducting ceramics, making high-surface area solid oxide fuel cell cathodes with controlled pours. Subsequently, cathodes and electrolytes with low polarization will be developed as will cathode material compatible with certain enhanced electrolytes. DOE share, $600,000; applicant share, $150,000.

University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc., Athens, GA – To develop more efficient solid-state lighting sources using ultraviolet/light-emitting diodes and phosphor combinations by focusing on improving phosphor-coating efficiency in UV/LEDS. Information will help designers develop and demonstrate higher efficacy LED packages to minimize or even eliminate many phosphor-quenching pathways. DOE share, $418,068; applicant share, $95,143.University of Houston, Houston, TX – To look for new cathode materials that can withstand temperatures of 600o C and to increase the understanding of fuel cell properties to speed development of cost-effective solid oxide fuel cells. Total project/DOE cost, $500,000.

University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY – To design, make, operate, characterize and evaluate novel composite hydrogen-permeable membranes made with ceramic or metal substrates to provide mechanical strength, better resist corrosion, and help with permeation. DOE share, $490,000; applicant share, $102,000.

University of California, Berkeley, CA – To design and synthesize iron catalysts with controlled and predictable activity and structural stability during Fischer-Tropsch reactions, including: 1) catalyst synthesis and promotion protocols leading to high-surface area carbide clusters; 2) structural assessment techniques to probe and control attrition during compositional cycling; 3) further improvements and optimization of catalyst performance suitable for converting synthesis gas streams to those derived from coal or biomass; and 4) control of water, carbon dioxide or light hydrocarbon concentrations. DOE share, $499,336; applicant share, $99,867.

University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, KY – To bridge the gap between industrial filtration techniques and fundamental chemical/physical changes of iron-based catalyst particles under Fischer-Tropsch conditions using a slurry bubble column reactor that can simulate FT synthesis conditions. The goals are to correlate filtration properties of various iron catalyst slurries with the chemical and physical changes occurring during FT synthesis, correlate effects FT changes have on filtration, and optimize cleaning methods for various types of filters. DOE share, $492,496; applicant share, $125,631.

University of Wisconsin System of Chemical Engineering, Madison, WI – To use computational chemistry methods and experiments to develop and validate detailed models, and to predict catalyst activity and hydrocarbon selectivities over a range of temperatures, pressures, and hydrogen-to-carbon-dioxide ratio, and cobalt catalyst behavior. The project also will address molecular principles of rates of chain growth versus termination on cobalt Fischer-Tropsch catalyst, providing a basis for producing products such as diesel fuel and waxes. Total project/DOE cost, $498,695.

Advanced Fuel Research Inc., East Hartford, CT – To complete earlier R&D for on-line monitors that track turbine engine blade conditions developed around a waveguide that provides simultaneous transmission of two very different light wavelengths. Work focuses on: 1) measuring and documenting spectral radiative properties of non-defect and defect advanced blade materials; 2) design and development of hardware and software for on-engine condition monitors; and 3) the performance of on-rig and on-engine field demonstrations to prove the technology and bring it closer to commercialization. DOE share, $500,000; applicant share, $305,000

Ion Optics Inc., Waltham, MA – To make a more efficient, prototype indoor air sensor by placing a thin metal layer heater on top of a polycrystalline silicon sensor layer. Three layer structures will be modeled, designed, made and tested to maintain a narrow line infrared spectra when heated while minimizing electrical noise cross-talk. If successful, the project could reduce current building ventilation costs by 10 percent. DOE share, $360,000; applicant share, $90,000.

Ion Optics Inc., Waltham, MA – To demonstrate a compact, rugged, low-cost ammonia sensor with better detection capabilities and resolution. The work includes: 1) designing and building a fiber laser with a folded path optical cell that can be used as an ammonia sensor; 2) testing and calibrating the sensor under controlled laboratory conditions; and 3) testing the sensor on a large engine with a selective catalytic reaction unit to establish response time, lower detection limits and operating life before the optical cell needs to be cleaned or replaced. DOE share, $336,000; applicant share, $84,000.

Process Metrix, LLC, San Ramon, CA – To develop and field test a full-scale gasifier used for geometric configuration, environmental conditions and process requirements and to produce a de-coupled scanner and laser-range finder to enable cross-cutting application for process optimization, energy savings and product-quality control in basic commodities industries such as metals, chemicals and forest products. DOE share, $489,500; applicant share, $182,500.

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO – To build a science and technology base between research and commercialization of ultra-high temperature membranes used in micro-igniter/sensor. Areas to be addressed are process control, high-temperature interconnects for packaging, rapid manufacturing science from polymer-derived ceramics and the development of a human machine-interface to provide real-time information on the performance of membrane devices. DOE share, $530,000; applicant share, $100,000.

University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE – To design, implement and validate a prototype monitor that tracks occupancy and control indoor environment services in buildings. Emphasis is on: 1) evaluating feasibility, performance and economics associated with occupancy detection and indoor environment control based on multiple distributed occupancy detectors; 2) developing new algorithms based on network analysis; and 3) developing a prototype-control system based on the first two phases. The prototype will be will be field tested in a private office, an open-plan office and a classroom. DOE share, $321,440; applicant share, $107,340.

Electricore Inc., Indianapolis, IN – To design, build and test prototype producible, reliable, modular and scalable investor systems to be used by vehicle and distributed energy systems. Inverter system will provide for power changes and minor redesign costs without changes in production methods. DOE share, $500,000; applicant share, $125,000.

Hi-Z Technology, San Diego, CA – To develop and test one or more thermoelectric converters that are 25 percent more efficient than current systems. The project will evaluate materials, develop a substrate design that allows deposition of legs and subsequent development into a converter module as the basic building block in assembling larger generators, determine optimum film thickness, fabricate and evaluate legs in a cooling environment. DOE share: $500,000; applicant share: $125,000.

SarCon Applied Technology Corporation, Cambridge, MA – To reduce the size, weight and cost of converter hardware by improving the electrolyte filter capacitor used across an inverter’s direct current link, with an objective of 30-35 percent size and weight reduction. Air-cooling technology to reduce weight, cost and complexity of the cooling system will be demonstrated and inverter markets will be expanded by using standardized units in modular configurations to provide the flexibility needed to configure applications such as distributed generation and shipboard power. DOE share: $499,919; applicant share: $99,984.

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