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Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's GRIDS program, short for "Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage," are developing storage technologies that can store renewable energy for use at any location on the grid at an investment cost less than $100 per kilowatt hour. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.

For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

ABB, Inc.

Superconducting Magnet Energy Storage System with Direct Power Electronics Interface

ABB is developing an advanced energy storage system using superconducting magnets that could store significantly more energy than today's best magnetic storage technologies at a fraction of the cost. This system could provide enough storage capacity to encourage more widespread use of renewable power like wind and solar. Superconducting magnetic energy storage systems have been in development for almost 3 decades; however, past devices were designed to supply power only for short durations-generally less than a few minutes. ABB's system would deliver the stored energy at very low cost, making it ideal for eventual use in the electricity grid as a cost-effective competitor to batteries and other energy storage technologies. The device could potentially cost even less, on a per kilowatt basis, than traditional lead-acid batteries.

Beacon Power, LLC

Development of a 100 kWh/100 kW Flywheel Energy Storage Module

Beacon Power is developing a flywheel energy storage system that costs substantially less than existing flywheel technologies. Flywheels store the energy created by turning an internal rotor at high speeds-slowing the rotor releases the energy back to the grid when needed. Beacon Power is redesigning the heart of the flywheel, eliminating the cumbersome hub and shaft typically found at its center. The improved design resembles a flying ring that relies on new magnetic bearings to levitate, freeing it to rotate faster and deliver 400% as much energy as today's flywheels. Beacon Power's flywheels can be linked together to provide storage capacity for balancing the approximately 10% of U.S. electricity that comes from renewable sources each year.

CUNY Energy Institute

Low-Cost Grid-Scale Electrical Storage Using a Flow-Assisted Rechargeable Zinc-Manganese Dioxide Battery

CUNY Energy Institute is working to tame dendrite formation and to enhance the lifetime of Manganese in order to create a long-lasting, fully rechargeable battery for grid-scale energy storage. Traditional consumer-grade disposable batteries are made of Zinc and Manganese, two inexpensive, abundant, and non-toxic metals, but these disposable batteries can only be used once. If they are recharged, the Zinc in the battery develops filaments called dendrites that grow haphazardly and disrupt battery performance, while the Manganese quickly loses its ability to store energy. CUNY Energy Institute is also working to reduce dendrite formation by pumping fluid through the battery, enabling researchers to fix the dendrites as they form. The team has already tested its Zinc battery through 3,000 recharge cycles (and counting). CUNY Energy Institute aims to demonstrate a better cycle life than lithium-ion batteries, which can be up to 20 times more expensive than Zinc-based batteries.

Energy Storage Systems, Inc.

10kW 80kWh Energy Storage System Based on All-Iron Hybrid Flow Battery

ESS is developing a cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly all-iron hybrid flow battery. A flow battery is an easily rechargeable system that stores its electrolyte-the material that provides energy-as liquid in external tanks. Currently, flow batteries account for less than 1% of the grid-scale energy storage market because of their high system costs. The ESS flow battery technology is distinguished by its cost-effective electrolytes, based on earth-abundant iron, and its innovative battery hardware design that dramatically increases power density and enables a smaller and less costly battery. Creating a high-performing and low-cost storage system would enable broad adoption of distributed energy storage systems and help bring more renewable energy technologies-such as wind and solar-onto the grid.

Fluidic, Inc.

Enhanced Metal-Air Energy Storage System with Advanced Grid-Interoperable Power Electronics Enabling Scalability and Ultra-Low Cost

Fluidic is developing a low-cost, rechargeable, high-power module for Zinc-air batteries that will be used to store renewable energy. Zinc-air batteries are traditionally found in small, non-rechargeable devices like hearing aids because they are well-suited to delivering low levels of power for long periods of time. Historically, Zinc-air batteries have not been as useful for applications which require periodic bursts of power, like on the electrical grid. Fluidic hopes to fill this need by combining the high energy, low cost, and long run-time of a Zinc-air battery with new chemistry providing high power, high efficiency, and fast response. The battery module could allow large grid-storage batteries to provide much more power on very short demand-the most costly kind of power for utilities-and with much more versatile performance.

General Atomics

Soluble Lead Flow Battery Technology

General Atomics is developing a flow battery technology based on chemistry similar to that used in the traditional lead-acid battery found in nearly every car on the road today. Flow batteries store energy in chemicals that are held in tanks outside the battery. When the energy is needed, the chemicals are pumped through the battery. Using the same basic chemistry as a traditional battery but storing its energy outside of the cell allows for the use of very low-cost materials. The goal is to develop a system that is far more durable than today's lead-acid batteries, can be scaled to deliver megawatts of power, and which lowers the cost of energy storage below $100 per kilowatt hour.

General Compression

Fuel-Free, Ubiquitous Compressed-Air Energy Storage and Power Conditioning

General Compression has developed a transformative, near-isothermal compressed air energy storage system (GCAES) that prevents air from heating up during compression and cooling down during expansion. When integrated with renewable generation, such as a wind farm, intermittent energy can be stored in compressed air in salt caverns or pressurized tanks. When electricity is needed, the process is reversed and the compressed air is expanded to produce electricity. Unlike conventional compressed air energy storage (CAES) projects, no gas is burned to convert the stored high-pressure air back into electricity. The result of this breakthrough is an ultra-efficient, fully shapeable, 100% renewable and carbon-free power product. The GCAES system can provide high quality electricity and ancillary services by effectively integrating renewables onto the grid at a cost that is competitive with gas, coal, and nuclear generation.

ITN Energy Systems, Inc.

Demonstration of 2.5kW/10kWh Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) Through Rationally Designed High Energy Density Electrolytes and Membrane-Electrode Assembly (MEA)

ITN is developing a vanadium redox flow battery for residential and small-scale commercial energy storage that would be more efficient and affordable than today's best energy storage systems. In a redox flow battery, chemical reactions occur that allow the battery to absorb or deliver electricity. Unlike conventional batteries, flow batteries use a liquid (also known as an electrolyte) to store energy; the more electrolyte that is used, the longer the battery can operate. Vanadium electrolyte-based redox flow battery systems are a technology for today's market, but they require expensive ion-exchange membranes. In the past, prices of vanadium have fluctuated, increasing the cost of the electrolyte and posing a major obstacle to more widespread adoption of vanadium redox flow batteries. ITN's design combines a low-cost ion-exchange membrane and a low-cost electrolyte solution to reduce overall system cost, ultimately making a vanadium redox flow battery cost-competitive with more traditional lead-acid batteries.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Hydrogen Bromine Flow Batteries for Grid Scale Energy Storage

LBNL is designing a flow battery for grid storage that relies on a hydrogen-bromine chemistry which could be more efficient, last longer, and cost less than today's lead-acid batteries. Flow batteries are fundamentally different from traditional lead-acid batteries because the chemical reactants that provide their energy are stored in external tanks instead of inside the battery. A flow battery can provide more energy because all that is required to increase its storage capacity is to increase the size of the external tanks. The hydrogen-bromine reactants used by LBNL in its flow battery are inexpensive, long lasting, and provide power quickly. The cost of the design could be well below $100 per kilowatt hour, which would rival conventional grid-scale battery technologies.

Materials & Systems Research, Inc.

Advanced Sodium Batteries with Enhanced Safety and Low-Cost Processing

MSRI is developing a high-strength, low-cost solid-state electrolyte membrane structure for use in advanced grid-scale sodium batteries. The electrolyte, a separator between the positive and negative electrodes, carries charged materials called ions. In the solid electrolyte sodium batteries, sodium ions move through the solid-state ceramic electrolyte. This electrolyte is normally brittle, expensive, and difficult to produce because it is formed over the course of hours in high-temperature furnaces. With MSRI's design, this ceramic electrolyte will be produced cheaply within minutes by single-step coating technologies onto high-strength support materials. The high-strength support material provides excellent structural integrity, much superior to the conventional cell design, which depends solely on the brittle ceramic material for its strength. The resulting stronger, cheaper sodium battery design will enable a new generation of low-cost, safe, and reliable batteries for grid-scale energy storage applications.

Primus Power

Low-Cost, High-Performance 50-Year Electrodes

Primus Power is developing zinc-based, rechargeable liquid flow batteries that could produce substantially more energy at lower cost than conventional batteries. A flow battery is similar to a conventional battery, except instead of storing its energy inside the cell it stores that energy for future use in chemicals that are kept in tanks that sit outside the cell. One of the most costly components in a flow battery is the electrode, where the electrochemical reactions actually occur. Primus Power is investigating and developing mixed-metal materials for their electrodes that could ultimately reduce the lifetime cost of flow batteries because they are more durable and long-lasting than electrodes found in traditional batteries. Using these electrodes, Primus Power's flow batteries can be grouped together into robust, containerized storage pods for use by utilities, renewable energy developers, businesses, and campuses.

Proton Energy Systems

Transformative Renewable Energy Storage Devices Based on Neutral Water Input

Proton Energy Systems is developing an energy storage device that converts water to hydrogen fuel when excess electricity is available, and then uses hydrogen to generate electricity when energy is needed. The system includes an electrolyzer, which generates and separates hydrogen and oxygen for storage, and a fuel cell which converts the hydrogen and oxygen back to electricity. Traditional systems use acidic membranes, and require expensive materials including platinum and titanium for key parts of the system. In contrast, Proton Energy Systems' new technology will use an inexpensive alkaline membrane and will contain only inexpensive metals such as nickel and stainless steel. If successful, Proton Energy Systems' design will have similar performance to today's regenerative fuel cell systems at a fraction of the cost, and can be used to store electricity on the electric grid.

The Boeing Company

Low-Cost, High-Energy-Density Flywheel Storage Grid Demonstration

Boeing is developing a new material for use in the rotor of a low-cost, high-energy flywheel storage technology. Flywheels store energy by increasing the speed of an internal rotor-slowing the rotor releases the energy back to the grid when needed. The faster the rotor spins, the more energy it can store. Boeing's new material could drastically improve the energy stored in the rotor. The team will work to improve the storage capacity of their flywheels and increase the duration over which they store energy. The ultimate goal of this project is to create a flywheel system that can be scaled up for use by electric utility companies and produce power for a full hour at a cost of $100 per kilowatt hour.

TVN Systems, Inc.

Hydrogen-Bromine Electrical Energy Storage System

TVN is developing an advanced hydrogen-bromine flow battery that incorporates a low-cost membrane and durable catalyst materials. A flow battery's membrane separates its active materials and keeps them from mixing, while the catalyst serves to speed up the chemical reactions that generate electricity. Today's hydrogen-bromine batteries use very expensive membrane material and catalysts that can degrade as the battery is used. TVN is exploring new catalysts that will last longer than today's catalysts, and developing new membranes at a fraction of the cost of today's membranes. Demonstrating long-lasting, cost-competitive storage systems could enable deployment of renewable energy technologies throughout the grid.

United Technologies Research Center

Transformative Electrochemical Flow Storage System (TEFSS)

UTRC is developing a flow battery with a unique design that provides significantly more power than today's flow battery systems. A flow battery is a cross between a traditional battery and a fuel cell. Flow batteries store their energy in external tanks instead of inside the cell itself. Flow batteries have traditionally been expensive because the battery cell stack, where the chemical reaction takes place, is costly. In this project, UTRC is developing a new stack design that achieves 10 times higher power than today's flow batteries. This high power output means the size of the cell stack can be smaller, reducing the amount of expensive materials that are needed. UTRC's flow battery will reduce the cost of storing electricity for the electric grid, making widespread use feasible.

University of Southern California

A Robust and Inexpensive Iron-Air Rechargeable Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

USC is developing an iron-air rechargeable battery for large-scale energy storage that could help integrate renewable energy sources into the electric grid. Iron-air batteries have the potential to store large amounts of energy at low cost-iron is inexpensive and abundant, while oxygen is freely obtained from the air we breathe. However, current iron-air battery technologies have suffered from low efficiency and short life spans. USC is working to dramatically increase the efficiency of the battery by placing chemical additives on the battery's iron-based electrode and restructuring the catalysts at the molecular level on the battery's air-based electrode. This can help the battery resist degradation and increase life span. The goal of the project is to develop a prototype iron-air battery at significantly cost lower than today's best commercial batteries.

The ARPA-E model is unique in that the agency does not just provide teams funding. Throughout the lifetime of an ARPA-E award, ARPA-E Program Directors and Tech-to-Market Advisors also provide teams with expert advice through quarterly reviews and onsite visits. This hands-on approach helps ensure teams can meet ambitious milestones, target and tackle problems early on, and advance their technologies towards commercialization. Program Director Dr. Isik Kizilyalli explains the importance of this active project management approach in helping teams identify and overcome barriers. In this video, Energy Storage Systems (ESS) from the GRIDS program and Monolith Semiconductors from the SWITCHES program discuss how ARPA-E’s active project management approach helped them find solutions to technical challenges.

Fluidic, with the help of ARPA-E funding, has developed and deployed the world's first proven high cycle life metal air battery. Metal air technology, often used in smaller scale devices like hearing aids, has the lowest cost per electron of any rechargeable battery storage in existence. Deploying these batteries for grid reliability is competitive with pumped hydro installations while having the advantages of a small footprint. Fluidic's battery technology allows utilities and other end users to store intermittent energy generated from solar and wind, as well as maintain reliable electrical delivery during power outages. The batteries are manufactured in the US and currently deployed to customers in emerging markets for cell tower reliability. As they continue to add customers, they've gained experience and real world data that will soon be leveraged for US grid reliability.

With the help of ARPA-E funding, General Compression has created an advanced air compression process that can store and release more than a week's worth of the energy generated by wind turbines. This compressed air energy storage system could enable large-scale integration of wind and other renewables onto the electric grid.


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