Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Energy Action Month and ARPA-E: Transforming Our Energy Future

October 12, 2016

Energy Action Month & ARPA-E: Transforming Our Energy Future

Impact

October is National Energy Action Month, a time for us to focus on energy’s critical importance to our national security, economic prosperity, and environmental well-being. Whether it’s reducing energy imports from abroad, fighting climate change, or modernizing our power grid, there is a near-unlimited number of energy challenges the United States can tackle. And while this month is special, at ARPA-E, we’re working year-round to accelerate innovations that will create a secure, affordable and sustainable American energy future. 

ARPA-E helps to translate cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations that could change how we use, generate and store energy. In just seven years since its founding, ARPA-E technologies have demonstrated great technical and commercial progress, attracting an impressive $1.25 billion in private sector follow-on funding. 

Since 2009, ARPA-E has funded over 500 potentially transformational energy technology projects. Many of these projects have already demonstrated early indicators of success, and the Agency has begun to analyze and catalog this progress. ARPA-E’s first compilation of impactful technologies includes groundbreaking work in some of the following technical areas:  

Grid-Scale Batteries 

FluidicPhoto: Fluidic unit installed in Honduras

Fluidic Energy has developed a rechargeable Zinc-air (Zn-air) battery that overcomes the longstanding challenges of degradation and limited charge cycles. The team uses an electrolyte based on ionic liquids (salts that are liquid at the battery operating temperature) to deliver ionic conductance while maintaining electrical insulation—all without evaporating, becoming unstable, or absorbing water. As of January 2016, Fluidic has installed more than 50,000 Zn-air battery cells, primarily in South East Asia and Latin America, reducing customers’ operating costs while increasing reliability. 

Transportation

AMPED Ford

Ford has developed a battery tester that is more precise than today’s state-of-the-art designs and completes testing in a quarter of the time. The team had a goal of an eight times improvement in voltage measurement precision and four times improvement in current measurement precision. The Ford team was able to drastically improve their ability to measure battery aging, achieving a Columbic Efficiency of 50 ppm (±0.005%), as compared to state-of-the-art testers, which can only reach 350 ppm precision (±0.035%). This allowed the Ford team to predict battery lifetime in one-fourth the amount of time required by current testers.

Energy Efficiency and Clean Power 

1366

To reduce the cost of silicon wafer production, 1366 Technologies developed a process that eliminates casting and sawing, the most expensive and wasteful process in wafer manufacturing. The company is producing thin wafers directly from molten silicon at industry-standard sizes, and with efficiencies that compare favorably with today's state-of-the-art technologies. 

To learn more about each of these and other ARPA-E projects, click here to download the entire volume.