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HEATS

High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage

The projects that make up ARPA-E's HEATS program, short for "High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage," seek to develop revolutionary, cost-effective ways to store thermal energy. HEATS focuses on 3 specific areas: 1) developing high-temperature solar thermal energy storage capable of cost-effectively delivering electricity around the clock and thermal energy storage for nuclear power plants capable of cost-effectively meeting peak demand, 2) creating synthetic fuel efficiently from sunlight by converting sunlight into heat, and 3) using thermal energy storage to improve the driving range of electric vehicles (EVs) and also enable thermal management of internal combustion engine vehicles.
  For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Abengoa Solar, LLC

High-Efficiency Solar-Electric Conversion Power Tower

Abengoa Solar is developing a high-efficiency solar-electric conversion tower to enable low-cost, fully dispatchable solar energy generation. Abengoa's conversion tower utilizes new system architecture and a two-phase thermal energy storage media with an efficient supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) power cycle. The company is using a high-temperature heat-transfer fluid with a phase change in between its hot and cold operating temperature. The fluid serves as a heat storage material and is cheaper and more efficient than conventional heat-storage materials, like molten salt. It also allows the use of a high heat flux solar receiver, advanced high thermal energy density storage, and more efficient power cycles.

Halotechnics, Inc.

Advanced Molten Glass for Heat Transfer and Thermal Energy Storage

Halotechnics is developing a high-temperature thermal energy storage system using a new thermal-storage and heat-transfer material: earth-abundant and low-melting-point molten glass. Heat storage materials are critical to the energy storage process. In solar thermal storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials during the day and released at night--when the sun is not out--to drive a turbine and produce electricity. In nuclear storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials at night and released to produce electricity during daytime peak-demand hours. Halotechnics new thermal storage material targets a price that is potentially cheaper than the molten salt used in most commercial solar thermal storage systems today. It is also extremely stable at temperatures up to 1200°C--hundreds of degrees hotter than the highest temperature molten salt can handle. Being able to function at high temperatures will significantly increase the efficiency of turning heat into electricity. Halotechnics is developing a scalable system to pump, heat, store, and discharge the molten glass. The company is leveraging technology used in the modern glass industry, which has decades of experience handling molten glass.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Advanced Thermo-Adsorptive Battery Climate Control System

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing a low-cost, compact, high-capacity, advanced thermo-adsorptive battery (ATB) for effective climate control of EVs. The ATB provides both heating and cooling by taking advantage of the materials' ability to adsorb a significant amount of water. This efficient battery system design could offer up as much as a 30% increase in driving range compared to current EV climate control technology. The ATB provides high-capacity thermal storage with little-to-no electrical power consumption. MIT is also looking to explore the possibility of shifting peak electricity loads for cooling and heating in a variety of other applications, including commercial and residential buildings, data centers, and telecom facilities.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Metallic Composites Phase-Change Materials for High-Temperature Thermal Energy Storage

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing efficient heat storage materials for use in solar and nuclear power plants. Heat storage materials are critical to the energy storage process. In solar thermal storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials during the day and released at night--when the sun's not out--to drive a turbine and produce electricity. In nuclear storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials at night and released to produce electricity during daytime peak-demand hours. MIT is designing nanostructured heat storage materials that can store a large amount of heat per unit mass and volume. To do this, MIT is using phase-change materials, which absorb a large amount of latent heat to melt from solid to liquid. MIT's heat storage materials are designed to melt at high temperatures and conduct heat well--this makes them efficient at storing and releasing heat and enhances the overall efficiency of the thermal storage and energy-generation process. MIT's low-cost heat storage materials also have a long life cycle, which further enhances their efficiency.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

HybriSol Hybrid Nanostructures for High-Energy-Density Solar Thermal Fuels

MIT is developing a thermal energy storage device that captures energy from the sun; this energy can be stored and released at a later time when it is needed most. Within the device, the absorption of sunlight causes the solar thermal fuel's photoactive molecules to change shape, which allows energy to be stored within their chemical bonds. A trigger is applied to release the stored energy as heat, where it can be converted into electricity or used directly as heat. The molecules would then revert to their original shape, and can be recharged using sunlight to begin the process anew. MIT's technology would be 100% renewable, rechargeable like a battery, and emissions-free. Devices using these solar thermal fuels--called HybriSol--can also be used without a grid infrastructure for applications such as de-icing, heating, cooking, and water purification.

NAVITASMAX

Novel Tuning of Critical Fluctuations for Advanced Thermal Energy Storage

NAVITASMAX, along with their partners at Harvard University, Cornell University, and Barber-Nichols, is developing a novel thermal energy storage solution. This innovative technology is based on tuning the properties of simple and complex fluids to increase their ability to store more heat. In solar thermal storage systems, heat can be stored in NAVITASMAX's system during the day and released at night--when the sun is not shining--to drive a turbine and produce electricity. In nuclear storage systems, heat can be stored in NAVITASMAX's system at night and released to produce electricity during daytime peak-demand hours.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Electric-Powered Adsorption Heat Pump for Electric Vehicles

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is developing a new class of advanced nanomaterial called an electrical metal organic framework (EMOF) for EV heating and cooling systems. The EMOF would function similar to a conventional heat pump, which circulates heat or cold to the cabin as needed. However, by directly controlling the EMOF's properties with electricity, the PNNL design is expected to use much less energy than traditional heating and cooling systems. The EMOF-based heat pumps would be light, compact, efficient, and run using virtually no moving parts.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Reversible Metal Hydride Thermal Storage for High-Temperature Power Generation Systems

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is developing a thermal energy storage system based on a Reversible Metal Hydride Thermochemical (RMHT) system, which uses metal hydride as a heat storage material. Heat storage materials are critical to the energy storage process. In solar thermal storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials during the day and released at night--when the sun is not out--to drive a turbine and produce electricity. In nuclear storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials at night and released to produce electricity during daytime peak-demand hours. PNNL's metal hydride material can reversibly store heat as hydrogen cycles in and out of the material. In a RHMT system, metal hydrides remain stable in high temperatures (600- 800°C). A high-temperature tank in PNNL's storage system releases heat as hydrogen is absorbed, and a low-temperature tank stores the heat until it is needed. The low-cost material and simplicity of PNNL's thermal energy storage system is expected to keep costs down. The system has the potential to significantly increase energy density.

Sheetak, Inc.

Thermoelectric Reactors for Efficient Automotive Thermal Storage (TREATS)

Sheetak is developing a new HVAC system to store the energy required for heating and cooling in EVs. This system will replace the traditional refrigerant-based vapor compressors and inefficient heaters used in today's EVs with efficient, light, and rechargeable hot-and-cold thermal batteries. The high energy density thermal battery--which does not use any hazardous substances--can be recharged by an integrated solid-state thermoelectric energy converter while the vehicle is parked and its electrical battery is being charged. Sheetak's converters can also run on the electric battery if needed and provide the required cooling and heating to the passengers--eliminating the space constraint and reducing the weight of EVs that use more traditional compressors and heaters.

United Technologies Research Center

Thermal Storage Using Hybrid Vapor Compression Adsorption System

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) is developing a new climate-control system for EVs that uses a hybrid vapor compression adsorption system with thermal energy storage. The targeted, closed system will use energy during the battery-charging step to recharge the thermal storage, and it will use minimal power to provide cooling or heating to the cabin during a drive cycle. The team will use a unique approach of absorbing a refrigerant on a metal salt, which will create a lightweight, high-energy-density refrigerant. This unique working pair can operate indefinitely as a traditional vapor compression heat pump using electrical energy, if desired. The project will deliver a hot-and-cold battery that provides comfort to the passengers using minimal power, substantially extending the driving range of EVs.

University of Florida

Solar Thermochemical Fuel Production via a Novel Low Pressure, Magnetically Stabilized, Non-volatile Iron Oxide Looping Process

The University of Florida is developing a windowless high-temperature chemical reactor that converts concentrated solar thermal energy to syngas, which can be used to produce gasoline. The overarching project goal is lowering the cost of the solar thermochemical production of syngas for clean and synthetic hydrocarbon fuels like petroleum. The team will develop processes that rely on water and recycled CO2 as the sole feed-stock, and concentrated solar radiation as the sole energy source, to power the reactor to produce fuel efficiently. Successful large-scale deployment of this solar thermochemical fuel production could substantially improve our national and economic security by replacing imported oil with domestically produced solar fuels.

University of Minnesota

Solar Fuels via Partial Redox Cycles with Heat Recovery

The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing a solar thermochemical reactor that will efficiently produce fuel from sunlight, using solar energy to produce heat to break chemical bonds. UMN envisions producing the fuel by using partial redox cycles and ceria-based reactive materials. The team will achieve unprecedented solar-to-fuel conversion efficiencies of more than 10% (where current state-of-the-art efficiency is 1%) by combined efforts and innovations in material development, and reactor design with effective heat recovery mechanisms and demonstration. This new technology will allow for the effective use of vast domestic solar resources to produce precursors to synthetic fuels that could replace gasoline.

University of South Florida

Development of a Low-Cost Thermal Energy Storage System Using Phase-Change Materials with Enhanced Radiation Heat Transfer

The University of South Florida (USF) is developing low-cost, high-temperature phase-change materials (PCMs) for use in thermal energy storage systems. Heat storage materials are critical to the energy storage process. In solar thermal storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials during the day and released at night--when the sun is not out--to drive a turbine and produce electricity. In nuclear storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials at night and released to produce electricity during daytime peak-demand hours. Most PCMs do not conduct heat very well. Using an innovative, electroless encapsulation technique, USF is enhancing the heat transfer capability of its PCMs. The inner walls of the capsules will be lined with a corrosion-resistant, high-infrared emissivity coating, and the absorptivity of the PCM will be controlled with the addition of nano-sized particles. USF's PCMs remain stable at temperatures from 600 to 1,000°C and can be used for solar thermal power storage, nuclear thermal power storage, and other applications.

University of Texas, Austin

Thermal Batteries for Electric Vehicles

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) will demonstrate a high-energy density and low-cost thermal storage system that will provide efficient cabin heating and cooling for EVs. Compared to existing HVAC systems powered by electric batteries in EVs, the innovative hot-and-cold thermal batteries-based technology is expected to decrease the manufacturing cost and increase the driving range of next-generation EVs. These thermal batteries can be charged with off-peak electric power together with the electric batteries. Based on innovations in composite materials offering twice the energy density of ice and 10 times the thermal conductivity of water, these thermal batteries are expected to achieve a comparable energy density at 25% of the cost of electric batteries. Moreover, because UT Austin's thermal energy storage systems are modular, they may be incorporated into the heating and cooling systems in buildings, providing further energy efficiencies and positively impacting the emissions of current building heating/cooling systems.

University of Utah

A New Generation of High Density Thermal Battery Based on Advanced Metal Hydrides

The University of Utah is developing a compact hot-and-cold thermal battery using advanced metal hydrides that could offer efficient climate control system for EVs. The team's innovative designs of heating and cooling systems for EVs with high energy density, low-cost thermal batteries could significantly reduce the weight and eliminate the space constraint in automobiles. The thermal battery can be charged by plugging it into an electrical outlet while charging the electric battery and it produces heat and cold through a heat exchanger when discharging. The ultimate goal of the project is a climate-controlling thermal battery that can last up to 5,000 charge and discharge cycles while substantially increasing the driving range of EVs, thus reducing the drain on electric batteries.
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