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

OPEN 2009 Projects

Displaying 1 - 41 of 41
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/01/2010 to 06/30/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Massachusetts
Technical Categories: 

1366 Technologies is developing a process to reduce the cost of solar electricity by up to 50% by 2020--from $0.15 per kilowatt hour to less than $0.07. 1366's process avoids the costly step of slicing a large block of silicon crystal into wafers, which turns half the silicon to dust. Instead, 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. 1366's wafers could directly replace wafers currently on the market, so there would be no interruptions to the delivery of these products to market. As a result of 1366's technology, the cost of silicon wafers could be reduced by 80%.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 03/31/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Massachusetts
Technical Categories: 

Enzymes are required to break plant biomass down into the fermentable sugars that are used to create biofuel. Currently, costly enzymes must be added to the biofuel production process. Engineering crops to already contain these enzymes will reduce costs and produce biomass that is more easily digested. In fact, enzyme costs alone account for $0.50-$0.75/gallon of the cost of a biomass-derived biofuel like ethanol. Agrivida is genetically engineering plants to contain high concentrations of enzymes that break down cell walls. These enzymes can be "switched on" after harvest so they won't damage the plant while it's growing.

Algaeventure Systems (AVS)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 01/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Ohio
Technical Categories: 
Led by CEO Ross Youngs, Algaeventure Systems (AVS) has patented a cost-effective dewatering technology that separates micro-solids (algae) from water. Separating micro-solids from water traditionally requires a centrifuge, which uses significant energy to spin the water mass and force materials of different densities to separate from one another. In a comparative analysis, dewatering 1 ton of algae in a centrifuge costs around $3,400. AVS's Solid-Liquid Separation (SLS) system is less energy-intensive and less expensive, costing $1.92 to process 1 ton of algae. The SLS technology uses capillary dewatering with filter media to gently facilitate water separation, leaving behind dewatered algae which can then be used as a source for biofuels and bio-products. The biomimicry of the SLS technology emulates the way plants absorb and spread water to their capillaries.
Arizona State University (ASU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/21/2009 to 06/30/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Arizona
Technical Categories: 

Arizona State University (ASU) is developing a new class of metal-air batteries. Metal-air batteries are promising for future generations of EVs because they use oxygen from the air as one of the battery's main reactants, reducing the weight of the battery and freeing up more space to devote to energy storage than Li-Ion batteries. ASU technology uses Zinc as the active metal in the battery because it is more abundant and affordable than imported lithium. Metal-air batteries have long been considered impractical for EV applications because the water-based electrolytes inside would decompose the battery interior after just a few uses. Overcoming this traditional limitation, ASU's new battery system could be both cheaper and safer than today's Li-Ion batteries, store from 4-5 times more energy, and be recharged over 2,500 times.

Arizona State University (ASU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 06/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Arizona
Technical Categories: 

Arizona State University (ASU) is engineering a type of photosynthetic bacteria that efficiently produce fatty acids--a fuel precursor for biofuels. This type of bacteria, called Synechocystis, is already good at converting solar energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) into a type of fatty acid called lauric acid. ASU has modified the organism so it continuously converts sunlight and CO2 into fatty acids--overriding its natural tendency to use solar energy solely for cell growth and maximizing the solar-to-fuel conversion process. ASU's approach is different because most biofuels research focuses on increasing cellular biomass and not on excreting fatty acids. The project has also identified a unique way to convert the harvested lauric acid into a fuel that can be easily blended with existing transportation fuels.

Bio Architecture Lab
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/30/2012 to 06/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (DuPont) and Bio Architecture Lab are exploring the commercial viability of producing fuel-grade isobutanol from macroalgae (seaweed). Making macroalgae an attractive substrate for biofuel applications however, will require continued technology development. Assuming these developments are successful, initial assessments suggest macroalgae aquafarming in our oceans has the potential to produce a feedstock with cost in the same range as terrestrial-based substrates (crop residuals, energy crops) and may be the feedstock of choice in some locations. The use of macroalgae also diversifies the sources of U.S. biomass in order to provide more options in meeting demand for biofuels. The process being developed will use a robust industrial biocatalyst (microorganism) capable of converting macroalgal-derived sugars directly into isobutanol. Biobutanol is an advanced biofuel with significant advantages over ethanol, including higher energy content, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and the ability to be blended in gasoline at higher levels than ethanol without changes to existing automobiles or the fuel industry infrastructure. Butamax is currently commercializing DuPont's biobutanol fermentation technology that uses sugar and starch feedstocks.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 12/31/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
Ceres is developing bigger and better grasses for use in biofuels. The bigger the grass yield, the more biomass, and more biomass means more biofuel per acre. Using biotechnology, Ceres is developing grasses that will grow bigger with less fertilizer than current grass varieties. Hardier, higher-yielding grass also requires less land to grow and can be planted in areas where other crops can't grow instead of in prime agricultural land. Ceres is conducting multi-year trials in Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia which have already resulted in grass yields with as much as 50% more biomass than yields from current grass varieties.
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2010 to 12/31/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Delphi Automotive Systems is developing power converters that are smaller and more energy efficient, reliable, and cost-effective than current power converters. Power converters rely on power transistors which act like a very precisely controlled on-off switch, controlling the electrical energy flowing through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon (Si) semiconductors. However, Delphi is using semiconductors made with a thin layer of gallium-nitride (GaN) applied on top of the more conventional Si material. The GaN layer increases the energy efficiency of the power transistor and also enables the transistor to operate at much higher temperatures, voltages, and power-density levels compared to its Si counterpart. Delphi is packaging these high-performance GaN semiconductors with advanced electrical connections and a cooling system that extracts waste heat from both sides of the device to further increase the device's efficiency and allow more electrical current to flow through it. When combined with other electronic components on a circuit board, Delphi's GaN power transistor package will help improve the overall performance and cost-effectiveness of HEVs and EVs.
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2010 to 03/31/2016
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Missouri
Technical Categories: 

EaglePicher Technologies is developing a sodium-beta alumina (Na-Beta) battery for grid-scale energy storage. High-temperature Na-Beta batteries are a promising grid-scale energy storage technology, but existing approaches are expensive and unreliable. EaglePicher has modified the shape of the traditional, tubular-shaped Na-Beta battery. It is using an inexpensive stacked design to improve performance at lower temperatures, leading to a less expensive overall storage technology. The new design greatly simplifies the manufacturing process for beta alumina membranes (a key enabling technology), providing a subsequent pathway to the production of scalable, modular batteries at half the cost of the existing tubular designs.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 12/31/2011
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
In a battery, metal ions move between the electrodes through the electrolyte in order to store energy. Envia Systems is developing new silicon-based negative electrode materials for Li-Ion batteries. Using this technology, Envia will be able to produce commercial EV batteries that outperform today's technology by 2-3 times. Many other programs have attempted to make anode materials based on silicon, but have not been able to produce materials that can withstand charge/discharge cycles multiple times. Envia has been able to make this material which can successfully cycle hundreds of times, on a scale that is economically viable. Today, Envia's batteries exhibit world-record energy densities.
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/01/2009 to 05/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
New Jersey
Technical Categories: 

Exelus is developing a method to convert olefins from oil refinery exhaust gas into alkylate, a clean-burning, high-octane component of gasoline. Traditionally, olefins must be separated from exhaust before they can be converted into another source of useful fuel. Exelus' process uses catalysts that convert the olefin to alkylate without first separating it from the exhaust. The ability to turn up to 50% of exhaust directly into gasoline blends could result in an additional 46 million gallons of gasoline in the U.S. each year.

Program: 
Project Term: 
04/01/2010 to 12/31/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Massachusetts
Technical Categories: 

FastCAP Systems is improving the performance of an ultracapacitor--a battery-like electronic device that can complement, and possibly even replace, an HEV or EV battery pack. Ultracapacitors have many advantages over conventional batteries, including long lifespans (over 1 million cycles, as compared to 10,000 for conventional batteries) and better durability. Ultracapacitors also charge more quickly than conventional batteries, and they release energy more quickly. However, ultracapacitors have fallen short of batteries in one key metric: energy density--high energy density means more energy storage. FastCAP is redesigning the ultracapacitor's internal structure to increase its energy density. Ultracapacitors traditionally use electrodes made of irregularly shaped, porous carbon. FastCAP's ultracapacitors are made of tiny, aligned carbon nanotubes. The nanotubes provide a regular path for ions moving in and out of the ultracapacitor's electrode, increasing the overall efficiency and energy density of the device.

FloDesign Wind Turbine
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/22/2010 to 03/31/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Massachusetts
Technical Categories: 

FloDesign's innovative wind turbine, inspired by the design of jet engines, could deliver 300% more power than existing wind turbines of the same rotor diameter by extracting more energy over a larger area. FloDesign's unique shrouded design expands the wind capture area, and the mixing vortex downstream allows more energy to flow through the rotor without stalling the turbine. The unique rotor and shrouded design also provide significant opportunity for mass production and simplified assembly, enabling mid-scale turbines (approximately 100 kW) to produce power at a cost that is comparable to larger-scale conventional turbines.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado

Foro Energy is developing a unique capability and hardware system to transmit high power lasers over long distances via fiber optic cables. This laser power is integrated with a mechanical drilling bit to enable rapid and sustained penetration of hard rock formations too costly to drill with mechanical drilling bits alone. The laser energy that is directed at the rock basically softens the rock, allowing the mechanical bit to more easily remove it. Foro Energy's laser-assisted drill bits have the potential to be up to 10 times more economical than conventional hard-rock drilling technologies, making them an effective way to access the U.S. energy resources currently locked under hard rock formations.

General Electric (GE) Global Research
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Connecticut
Technical Categories: 
General Electric (GE) Global Research is using nanomaterials technology to develop advanced magnets that contain fewer rare earth materials than their predecessors. Nanomaterials technology involves manipulating matter at the atomic or molecular scale, which can represent a stumbling block for magnets because it is difficult to create a finely grained magnet at that scale. GE is developing bulk magnets with finely tuned structures using iron-based mixtures that contain 80% less rare earth materials than traditional magnets, which will reduce their overall cost. These magnets will enable further commercialization of HEVs, EVs, and wind turbine generators while enhancing U.S. competitiveness in industries that heavily utilize these alternatives to rare earth minerals.
General Motors (GM)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 03/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

General Motors (GM) is using shape memory alloys that require as little as a 10°C temperature difference to convert low-grade waste heat into mechanical energy. When a stretched wire made of shape memory alloy is heated, it shrinks back to its pre-stretched length. When the wire cools back down, it becomes more pliable and can revert to its original stretched shape. This expansion and contraction can be used directly as mechanical energy output or used to drive an electric generator. Shape memory alloy heat engines have been around for decades, but the few devices that engineers have built were too complex, required fluid baths, and had insufficient cycle life for practical use. GM is working to create a prototype that is practical for commercial applications and capable of operating with either air- or fluid-based heat sources. GM's shape memory alloy based heat engine is also designed for use in a variety of non-vehicle applications. For example, it can be used to harvest non-vehicle heat sources, such as domestic and industrial waste heat and natural geothermal heat, and in HVAC systems and generators.

Program: 
Project Term: 
12/01/2009 to 11/03/2011
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Ohio
Technical Categories: 

Inorganic Specialists' project consists of material and manufacturing development for a new type of Li-Ion battery material, a silicon-coated paper. Silicon-based batteries are advantageous due to silicon's ability to store large amounts of energy. Yet, the technology has not been able to withstand multiple charge/discharge cycles. The thinner the silicon-based material, the better it can handle multiple charge/discharge cycles. Inorganic Specialists' extremely thin silicon-coated paper can store 4 times more energy than existing Li-Ion batteries. The team is improving manufacturing capability in two key areas: 1) expanding existing papermaking equipment to continuously produce the silicon-coated paper, and 2) creating machinery that will silicon-coat the paper via a moving process, to demonstrate manufacturing feasibility. These manufacturing improvements could meet the energy storage criteria required for multiple charge/discharge cycles. Inorganic Specialists' silicon-coated paper's properties have the potential to make it a practical, cost-effective transformative Li-Ion battery material.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 10/14/2011
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Iowa
Technical Categories: 

Iowa State University (ISU) is genetically engineering a species of aquatic microalgae called Chlamydomonas for more energy efficient conversion of sunlight and carbon dioxide to biofuels. Current microalgae genetic technologies are imprecise and hinder the rapid engineering of a variety of desirable traits into Chlamydomonas. In the absence of genetic engineering, it remains unlikely that current microalgae technologies for biofuel production will be able to economically compete with traditional fossil fuels. ISU is developing a portfolio of technologies for rapid genetic modification and breeding that will enable greater flexibility for genetic modification on a routine basis. The ISU project will optimize microalgae breeding and genetic engineering to develop efficient, large-scale industrial biofuel production.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 06/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

ITN Energy Systems is addressing the high cost of electrochromic windows with a new manufacturing process: roll-to-roll deposition of the film onto flexible plastic surfaces. Production of electrochromic films on plastic requires low processing temperatures and uniform film quality over large surface areas. ITN is overcoming these challenges using its previous experience in growing flexible thin-film solar cells and batteries. By developing sensor-based controls, ITN's roll-to-roll manufacturing process yields more film over a larger area than traditional film deposition methods. Evaluating deposition processes from a control standpoint ultimately strengthens the ability for ITN to handle unanticipated deviations quickly and efficiently, enabling more consistent large-volume production. The team is currently moving from small-scale prototypes into pilot-scale production to validate roll-to-roll manufacturability and produce scaled prototypes that can be proven in simulated operating conditions. Electrochromic plastic films could also open new markets in building retrofit applications, vastly expanding the potential energy savings.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/08/2013 to 10/01/2017
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
Kohana Technologies is developing wind turbines with a control system that delivers compressed air from special slots located in the surface of its blades. The compressed air dynamically adjusts the aerodynamic performance of the blades, and can essentially be used to control lift, drag, and ultimately power. This control system has been shown to exhibit high levels of control in combination with an exceptionally fast response rate. The deployment of such a control system in modern wind turbines would lead to better management of the load on the system during peak usage, allowing larger blades to be deployed with a resulting increase in energy production.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 06/30/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Pennsylvania
Technical Categories: 

Two faculty members at Lehigh University created a new technique called supercapacitive swing adsorption (SSA) that uses electrical charges to encourage materials to capture and release CO2. Current CO2 capture methods include expensive processes that involve changes in temperature or pressure. Lehigh University's approach uses electric fields to improve the ability of inexpensive carbon sorbents to trap CO2. Because this process uses electric fields and not electric current, the overall energy consumption is projected to be much lower than conventional methods. Lehigh University is now optimizing the materials to maximize CO2 capture and minimize the energy needed for the process.

Program: 
Project Term: 
09/01/2010 to 10/16/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
Makani Power is developing an Airborne Wind Turbine that eliminates 90% of the mass of a conventional wind turbine and accesses a stronger, more consistent wind at altitudes of near 1,000 feet. At these altitudes, 85% of the country can offer viable wind resources compared to only 15% accessible with current technology. Additionally, the Makani Power wing can be economically deployed in deep offshore waters, opening up a resource which is 4 times greater than the entire U.S. electrical generation capacity. Makani Power has demonstrated the core technology, including autonomous launch, land, and power generation with an 8 meter wingspan, 20 kW prototype. At commercial scale, Makani Power aims to develop a 600 kW, 28 meter wingspan product capable of delivering energy at an unsubsidized cost competitive with coal, the current benchmark for low-cost power.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Massachusetts
Technical Categories: 

Led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Donald Sadoway, the Electroville project team is creating a community-scale electricity storage device using new materials and a battery design inspired by the aluminum production process known as smelting. A conventional battery includes a liquid electrolyte and a solid separator between its 2 solid electrodes. MIT's battery contains liquid metal electrodes and a molten salt electrolyte. Because metals and salt don't mix, these 3 liquids of different densities naturally separate into layers, eliminating the need for a solid separator. This efficient design significantly reduces packaging materials, which reduces cost and allows more space for storing energy than conventional batteries offer. MIT's battery also uses cheap, earth-abundant, domestically available materials and is more scalable. By using all liquids, the design can also easily be resized according to the changing needs of local communities.

Michigan State University (MSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/14/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
Michigan State University (MSU) is developing a new engine for use in hybrid automobiles that could significantly reduce fuel waste and improve engine efficiency. In a traditional internal combustion engine, air and fuel are ignited, creating high-temperature and high-pressure gases that expand rapidly. This expansion of gases forces the engine's pistons to pump and powers the car. MSU's engine has no pistons. It uses the combustion of air and fuel to build up pressure within the engine, generating a shockwave that blasts hot gas exhaust into the blades of the engine's rotors causing them to turn, which generates electricity. MSU's redesigned engine would be the size of a cooking pot and contain fewer moving parts--reducing the weight of the engine by 30%. It would also enable a vehicle that could use 60% of its fuel for propulsion.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/18/2010 to 10/13/2011
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

Nalco is developing a process to capture carbon in the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. Conventional CO2 capture methods require the use of a vacuum or heat, which are energy-intensive and expensive processes. Nalco's approach to carbon capture involves controlling the acidity of the capture mixture and using an enzyme to speed up the rate of carbon capture from the exhaust gas. Changing the acidity drives the removal of CO2 from the gas without changing temperature or pressure, and the enzyme speeds up the capture rate of CO2. In addition, Nalco's technology would be simpler to retrofit to existing coal-fired plants than current technologies, so it could be more easily deployed.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 10/14/2011
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 

NanOasis Technologies is developing better membranes to filter salt from water during the reverse osmosis desalination process. Conventional reverse osmosis desalination processes pump water through a thin film membrane to separate out the salt. However, these membranes only provide modest water permeability, making the process highly energy intensive and expensive. NanOasis is developing membranes that consist of a thin, dense film with carbon nanotube pores that significantly enhance water transport, while effectively excluding the salt. Water can flow through the tiny pores of these carbon nanotubes quickly and with less pressure, drastically reducing the overall energy use and cost of the desalination process. In addition, NanOasis' technology was purported to not require any modifications to existing desalination plants, so it could be easily deployed.

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/14/2009 to 07/09/2010
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Pennsylvania
Technical Categories: 

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is developing a novel sunlight to chemical fuel conversion system. This innovative technology is based on tuning the properties of nanotube arrays with co-catalysts to achieve efficient solar conversion of CO2 and water vapor to methane and other hydrocarbons. The goal of this project is to build a stand-alone collector which can achieve ~2% sunlight to chemical fuel conversion efficiency via CO2 reduction.

Program: 
Project Term: 
12/11/2009 to 03/30/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
North Carolina
Technical Categories: 

Phononic Devices is working to recapture waste heat and convert it into usable electric power. To do this, the company is using thermoelectric devices, which are made from advanced semiconductor materials that convert heat into electricity or actively remove heat for refrigeration and cooling purposes. Thermoelectric devices resemble computer chips, and they manage heat by manipulating the direction of electrons at the nanoscale. These devices aren't new, but they are currently too inefficient and expensive for widespread use. Phononic Devices is using a high-performance, cost-effective thermoelectric design that will improve the device's efficiency and enable electronics manufacturers to more easily integrate them into their products.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/01/2010 to 03/31/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
Porifera is developing carbon nanotube membranes that allow more efficient removal of CO2 from coal plant exhaust. Most of today's carbon capture methods use chemical solvents, but capture methods that use membranes to draw CO2 out of exhaust gas are potentially more efficient and cost effective. Traditionally, membranes are limited by the rate at which they allow gas to flow through them and the amount of CO2 they can attract from the gas. Smooth support pores and the unique structure of Porifera's carbon nanotube membranes allows them to be more permeable than other polymeric membranes, yet still selective enough for CO2 removal. This approach could overcome the barriers facing membrane-based approaches for capturing CO2 from coal plant exhausts.
Research Triangle Institute (RTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
North Carolina
Technical Categories: 
Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is developing a new pyrolysis process to convert second-generation biomass into biofuels in one simple step. Pyrolysis is the decomposition of substances by heating--the same process used to render wood into charcoal, caramelize sugar, and dry roast coffee and beans. RTI's catalytic biomass pyrolysis differs from conventional flash pyrolysis in that its end product contains less oxygen, metals, and nitrogen--all of which contribute to corrosion, instability, and inefficiency in the fuel-production process. This technology is expected to easily integrate into the existing domestic petroleum refining infrastructure, making it an economically attractive option for biofuels production.
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/06/2012 to 01/31/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
Soraa's new GaN crystal growth method is adapted from that used to grow quartz crystals, which are very inexpensive and represent the second-largest market for single crystals for electronic applications (after silicon). More extreme conditions are required to grow GaN crystals and therefore a new type of chemical growth chamber was invented that is suitable for large-scale manufacturing. A new process was developed that grows GaN crystals at a rate that is more than double that of current processes. The new technology will enable GaN substrates with best-in-world quality at lowest-in-world prices, which in turn will enable new generations of white LEDs, lasers for full-color displays, and high-performance power electronics.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/14/2010 to 11/30/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 

A team of researchers from more than 10 departments at Stanford University is collaborating to transform the way Americans interact with our energy-use data. The team built a web-based platform that collects historical electricity data, which it uses to perform a variety of experiments to learn what triggers people to respond. Experiments include new financial incentives, a calculator to understand the potential savings of efficient appliances, new Facebook interface designs, communication studies using Twitter, and educational programs with the Girl Scouts. Economic modeling is underway to better understand how results from the San Francisco Bay Area can be broadened to other parts of the country.

Program: 
Project Term: 
12/31/2009 to 12/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Massachusetts
Technical Categories: 

Sun Catalytix is developing wireless energy-storage devices that convert sunlight and water into renewable fuel. Learning from nature, one such device mimics the ability of a tree leaf to convert sunlight into storable energy. It is comprised of a silicon solar cell coated with catalytic materials, which help speed up the energy conversion process. When this cell is placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, it splits the water into bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen and oxygen can later be recombined to create electricity, when the sun goes down for example. The Sun Catalytix device is novel in many ways: it consists primarily of low-cost, earth-abundant materials where other attempts have required more expensive materials like platinum. Its operating conditions also facilitate the use of less costly construction materials, whereas other efforts have required extremely corrosive conditions.

Teledyne Scientific & Imaging
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2010 to 04/19/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
Teledyne is developing a liquid prism panel that tracks the position of the sun to help efficiently concentrate its light onto a solar cell to produce power. Typically, solar tracking devices have bulky and expensive mechanical moving parts that require a lot of power and are often unreliable. Teledyne's liquid prism panel has no bulky and heavy supporting parts--instead it relies on electrowetting. Electrowetting is a process where an electric field is applied to the liquid to control the angle at which it meets the sunlight above and to control the angle of the sunlight to the focusing lens--the more direct the angle to the focusing lens, the more efficiently the light can be concentrated to solar panels and converted into electricity. This allows the prism to be tuned like a radio to track the sun across the sky and steer sunlight into the solar cell without any moving mechanical parts. This process uses very little power and requires no expensive supporting hardware or moving parts, enabling efficient and quiet rooftop operation for integration into buildings.
The Ohio State University
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/01/2010 to 09/30/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Ohio
Technical Categories: 
The Ohio State University has developed an iron-based material and process for converting syngas--a synthetic gas mixture--into electricity, H2, and/or liquid fuel with zero CO2 emissions. Traditional carbon capture methods use chemical solvents or special membranes to separate CO2 from the gas exhaust from coal-fired power plants. Ohio State's technology uses an iron-based oxygen carrier to generate CO2 and H2 from syngas in separate, pure product streams by means of a circulating bed reactor configuration. The end products of the system are H2, electricity, and/or liquid fuel, all of which are useful sources of power that can come from coal or syngas derived from biomass. Ohio State is developing a high-pressure pilot-scale unit to demonstrate this process at the National Carbon Capture Center.
United Technologies Research Center (UTRC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/15/2009 to 01/09/2012
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Connecticut
Technical Categories: 

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) is developing a process for capturing the CO2 emitted by coal-fired power plants. Conventional carbon capture methods use high temperatures or chemical solvents to separate CO2 from the exhaust gas, which are energy intensive and expensive processes. UTRC is developing membranes that separate the CO2 out of the exhaust gas using a synthetic version of a naturally occurring enzyme used to manage CO2. This enzyme is used by all air-breathing organisms on Earth to regulate CO2 levels. The enzyme would not survive within the gas exhaust of coal-fired power plants in its natural form, so UTRC is developing a synthetic version designed to withstand these harsh conditions. UTRC's technology does not require heat during processing, which could allow up to a 30% reduction in the cost of carbon capture.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2011 to 09/30/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
California
Technical Categories: 
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are creating cost-effective storage systems for solar thermal energy using new materials and designs. A major drawback to the widespread use of solar thermal energy is its inability to cost-effectively supply electric power at night. State-of-the-art energy storage for solar thermal power plants uses molten salt to help store thermal energy. Molten salt systems can be expensive and complex, which is not attractive from a long-term investment standpoint. UCLA and JPL are developing a supercritical fluid-based thermal energy storage system, which would be much less expensive than molten-salt-based systems. The team's design also uses a smaller, modular, single-tank design that is more reliable and scalable for large-scale storage applications.
University of Delaware (UD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/15/2012 to 12/31/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Delaware
Technical Categories: 

The University of Delaware (UD) is developing a new fuel cell membrane for vehicles that relies on cheaper and more abundant materials than those used in current fuel cells. Conventional fuel cells are very acidic, so they require acid-resistant metals like platinum to generate electricity. UD is developing an alkaline fuel cell membrane that can operate in a non-acidic environment where cheaper materials like nickel and silver, instead of platinum, can be used. In addition to enabling the use of cheaper metals, UD's membrane is 500 times less expensive than other polymer membranes used in conventional fuel cells.

University of Delaware (UD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/15/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Delaware
Technical Categories: 

The University of Delaware (UD) is developing permanent magnets that contain less rare earth material and produce twice the energy of the strongest rare earth magnets currently available. UD is creating these magnets by mixing existing permanent magnet materials with those that are more abundant, like iron. Both materials are first prepared in the form of nanoparticles via techniques ranging from wet chemistry to ball milling. After that, the nanoparticles must be assembled in a 3-D array and consolidated at low temperatures to form a magnet. With small size particles and good contact between these two materials, the best qualities of each allow for the development of exceptionally strong composite magnets.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/01/2010 to 08/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is experimenting with silicon-based materials to develop flexible thermoelectric devices--which convert heat into energy--that can be mass-produced at low cost. A thermoelectric device, which resembles a computer chip, creates electricity when a different temperature is applied to each of its sides. Existing commercial thermoelectric devices contain the element tellurium, which limits production levels because tellurium has become increasingly rare. UIUC is replacing this material with microscopic silicon wires that are considerably cheaper and could be equally effective. Improvements in thermoelectric device production could return enough wasted heat to add up to 23% to our current annual electricity production.

University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 08/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 
The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing clean-burning, liquid hydrocarbon fuels from bacteria. UMN is finding ways to continuously harvest hydrocarbons from a type of bacteria called Shewanella by using a photosynthetic organism to constantly feed Shewanella the sugar it needs for energy and hydrocarbon production. The two organisms live and work together as a system. Using Shewanella to produce hydrocarbon fuels offers several advantages over traditional biofuel production methods. First, it eliminates many of the time-consuming and costly steps involved in growing plants and harvesting biomass. Second, hydrocarbon biofuels resemble current petroleum-based fuels and would therefore require few changes to the existing fuel refining and distribution infrastructure in the U.S.