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OPEN 2018

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2018, ARPA-E issued its fourth open funding opportunity, designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received thousands of concept papers for OPEN 2018, which hundreds of scientists and engineers reviewed over the course of several months. ARPA-E selected 45 projects for its OPEN 2018 program, awarding them $112 million in federal funding. OPEN 2018 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, distributed generation, electrical efficiency, grid, grid storage, manufacturing efficiency, resource efficiency, transportation fuels, transportation energy conversion, and transportation vehicles.


Passive Radiative Cooling Film

3M will develop a film that passively radiates heat away from an engineered surface for use in cooling applications. Using a unique, weather resistant polymer composition, the team will improve the film's ability to reflect sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light, thus boosting performance while also increasing its lifespan. This film builds upon radiative cooling technology developed in prior ARPA-E awards to Stanford University and SkyCool Systems, a partner in this project. These cooling films are aimed at reducing electricity consumption for air conditioning, refrigeration systems, transportation, and data centers.

ABB, Inc.

Economical Data-fused Grid Edge Processor (EDGEPRO) for Future Distribution Grid Control Applications

ABB Inc. will design a low-cost, secure, and flexible next-generation grid service platform to improve grid efficiency and reliability. This technology will merge advanced edge computing, data fusion and machine learning techniques for virtual metering, and create a central repository for grid applications such as distributed energy resource (DER) control and others on one platform. The united platform will consist of four functional layers: (1) communication including data collection and exchange, (2) data processing and distributed state estimation, (3) data standardization and storage, and (4) hosted grid applications designed to enable large-scale deployment of DERs and more flexible grid control. ABB's approach will integrate and maximize emerging technologies in the transition to a decentralized and distributed electric grid.

Achates Power, Inc.

Highly-Efficient Opposed Piston Engine For Hybrid Vehicles ("HOPE-Hybrid")

Achates Power will develop an opposed-piston engine suitable for hybrid electric vehicle applications. The team will use a unique gasoline compression ignition design that minimizes energy losses (e.g., heat transfer) typical in conventional internal combustion engines. A motor-generator integrated on each engine crankshaft will provide independent control to each piston and eliminate all torque transmitted across the crankshaft connection, thus reducing engine size, mass, cost, friction, and noise. Engine efficiency improvement is expected through this real-time control of the combustion process. The proposed technology has the potential to offer manufacturers a full-range of cost-effective solutions to improve vehicle efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.A highly efficient hybrid opposed-piston engine can be easily integrated in the existing fueling infrastructure and offers the power and convenience that U.S. consumers demand.

Advanced Magnet Lab, Inc.

Homopolar Machines Enabled With Electron Current Transfer Technology

Advanced Magnet Lab (AML) is developing a reliable, contact-free current transfer mechanism from a stationary to a rotating electrode to allow direct current (DC) electrical machines, motors, and generators to achieve unprecedented power and torque density. This technology, a reimagining of the first electric "homopolar" motor invented by Michael Faraday, would provide current transfer without the need for the costly sliding contacts, brushes, and liquids that have limited DC electrical engine efficiency and lifetime. AML's contact-free current transfer would achieve 99% efficiency in DC electrical motors with 5-10 times the power and torque densities available in existing DC technologies.

AltaRock Energy Inc.

Millimeter-Wave Technology Demonstration for Geothermal Direct Energy Drilling

AltaRock Energy will overcome technical limitations to deep geothermal drilling by replacing mechanical methods with a Millimeter Wave (MMW) directed energy technology to melt and vaporize rocks for removal. This approach could increase drilling speed by 10 times or more, reducing costs while reaching higher temperatures and greater depths than those achievable with the best current and proposed mechanical technologies. Project R&D will include benchtop testing as well as larger scale demonstrations of directed MMW drilling at unprecedented borehole lengths and power levels. A detailed modeling and simulations campaign carried out with the experimental work will provide the basis for the design of larger, commercial-scale systems.

Aquanis, Inc.


Aquanis will develop advanced plasma actuators and controls to reduce aerodynamic loads on wind turbine blades, facilitating the next generation of larger (20+ MW), smarter wind turbines. The technology contains no moving parts, instead using purely electrical plasma actuators on the blade that set the adjacent air in motion when powered. This system can change the lift and drag forces on turbine blades to reduce blade mechanical fatigue and enable the design of larger and cheaper blades. Currently effective at laboratory scales, Aquanis plans to improve the plasma actuator capabilities and field test a prototype plasma actuator system on a wind turbine.

Arizona State University

Mining Air for Fuels and Fine chemicals

ASU will collect CO2 from air using a low-cost polymer membrane-based DAC process. The team will use water evaporation to drive to capture CO2, decrease emissions, and improve the energy efficiency of the overall carbon capture process. The project will use novel materials to create high-surface area membranes to continuously and actively pump CO2 against a concentration gradient. The process will capture distributed CO2 emissions that can be sequestered or converted into a wide range of energy-dense fuels, fuel feedstocks, or fine chemicals.

Arizona State University

Sensor Enabled Modeling of Future Distribution Systems with Distributed Energy Resources

Arizona State University will develop learning-ready models and control tools to maintain sensor-rich distribution systems in the presence of high levels of DER and storage. This approach will include topology processing algorithms, load and DER models for system planning and operation, distribution system state estimation, optimal DER operational scheduling algorithms, and system-level DER control strategies that leverage inverter controls' flexibility. The project will alter distribution system operation from today's reactive, load-serving, and outage mitigation-focused approach to an active DER, load, and outage-managed, market-ready approach.

Brayton Energy

Low-Cost Dispatchable CSP Engine For Residential Power

Brayton Energy is developing an efficient and low-cost distributed residential-scale combined heat and power system. This project seeks to advance and combine several complementary technologies--including metallic screw compressors, high temperature ceramic screw expanders, and a high-effectiveness recuperator. This combination will result in an integrated system with performance surpassing existing state-of-the-art systems. Brayton Energy's proposed technology would continuously deliver 2 kW of electrical power and enable efficient and economical distributed power systems that would radically transform how we heat and cool our homes.

Carnegie Mellon University

Additive Manufacturing of Spacer Grids for Nuclear Reactors

Carnegie Mellon will combine its expertise in additive manufacturing (AM) with Westinghouse's knowhow in nuclear reactor component fabrication to develop an innovative process for AM of nuclear components. The team chose to redesign nuclear reactor spacer grids as a test case because they are a particularly difficult component to manufacture. The role of spacer grids is to provide mechanical support to nuclear fuel rods within a reactor and reduce vibration as well as cause mixing of the cooling fluid. The team will alter the traditional AM process, including using nonstandard powders to optimize performance and reduce cost. If the project is successful, it could pave the way for other reactor components to be additively manufactured, enabling the rapid deployment of advanced reactors.

Colorado School of Mines

Efficient Hydrogen and Ammonia Production via Process Intensification and Integration

The Colorado School of Mines will develop a more efficient method for both the conversion of hydrogen and nitrogen to ammonia and the generation of high purity hydrogen from ammonia for fuel cell fueling stations. Composed of 17.6% hydrogen by mass, ammonia also has potential as a hydrogen carrier and carbon-free fuel. The team will develop a new technology to generate fuel cell-quality hydrogen from ammonia using a membrane based reactor. In addition, similar catalytic membrane reactor technology will be developed for synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen at reduced pressure and temperature. This is aided by selective removal of ammonia, which enables equilibrium limitations to be surpassed, a fundamental constraint in conventional Haber-Bosch ammonia synthesis.

Creare LLC

Closed-loop 5-kWe Brayton-cycle microturbine with 38% efficiency: Advanced generator technology designed for inexpensive mass-production

Creare, in partnership with IMBY Energy, is developing a mass-manufacturable, recuperated, closed-loop Brayton-cycle microturbine that will provide 5 kW of electrical power for residential and commercial buildings. The waste heat from the device can be harvested for heating. Technical innovations in the system that are anticipated to enable high efficiency at an attractive cost include a diffusion bonded foil recuperator, a turbomachine with specialized hydrodynamic gas bearings, a binary working fluid mixture and flameless combustion.

CTFusion, Inc

HIT-TD: Plasma Driver Technology Demonstration for Economical Fusion Power Plants

CTFusion is developing an early-stage approach to a commercially viable fusion power plant. The company will pursue higher performance in a compact fusion configuration called a spheromak through targeted upgrades of an existing plasma system. The project aims to demonstrate the required physical parameters, engineering performance, and scalability of the team's fusion concept toward an eventual electricity-producing, economical fusion power plant. CTFusion plans to 1) provide an integrated demonstration of its novel plasma sustainment method called imposed-dynamo current drive (IDCD) and 2) confirm the scalability of spheromaks sustained with IDCD toward eventual power plant conditions. Fusion energy has the potential to be a game-changing energy source that is plentiful, safe, and environmentally friendly, producing no harmful emissions. It could work together with renewable energy technologies to provide an economic, clean, and secure energy solution.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Augmented Reality GUI for Bioenergy Crop Phenotyping and Precision Agriculture

In the last decade, big data has enabled high-yield production of bioenergy crops. The drawback in agricultural systems data is that researchers are grappling with large, complex, multidimensional datasets comprised of thousands of data layers captured weekly or daily in dynamic outdoor environments. Converting all of these measurements into knowledge and actionable outcomes that keeps up with farmer and researcher demand is difficult. Tools that can automatically detect patterns in this data are needed to guide agricultural researchers to better inform experimental design and data analysis.

Ecolectro, Inc.

Modular UltraStable Alkaline Exchange Ionomers to Enable High Performing Fuel Cell and Electrolyzer Systems

Ecolectro is developing alkaline exchange ionomers (AEIs) to enable low-cost fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies. Ecolectro's AEIs will be resilient to the harsh operating conditions present in existing alkaline exchange membrane devices that prevent their widespread adoption in commercial applications. This technology will be simple, cost effective, and well suited to large-scale processing. Further, membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) featuring Ecolectro's AEIs will demonstrate comparable durability and improved efficiency over existing state-of-the-art proton exchange membranes without the need in platinum group metals.

Foro Energy, Inc.

High Power Laser Decommissioning Tool

Foro Energy will develop a high-power laser tool to assist in removing the extremely tough materials constituting aging energy assets in a timely, cost-effective, safe, and environmentally responsible manner. This cutting and melting tool will be capable of transmitting high-power laser light at long distances in a field environment, greatly boosting decommissioning efficiency.

Geegah LLC

Integrated Gigahertz Ultrasonic Imager for Soil: Towards Targeted Water and Pesticide Delivery for Biomass Production

Geegah will develop an inexpensive wireless sensor, using ultrasound from MHz to GHz, that can measure water content, soil chemicals, root growth, and nematode pests (a type of small worm), allowing farmers to improve the output of biofuel crops while reducing water and pesticide use. The reusable device will include a sensor suite and radio interface that can communicate to aboveground farm vehicles. This novel integration of sensing and imaging technologies has the potential to provide a low-cost solution to precision sensor-based digital agriculture.

General Electric

Advanced Medium Voltage SiC-SJ FETs with Ultra-Low On-resistance

GE Global Research will develop a device architecture for the world's first high-voltage silicon carbide (SiC) super junction (SJ) field-effect transistors. These devices will provide highly efficient power conversion (such as from direct to alternating current) in medium voltage applications, including renewables like solar and wind power, as well as transportation. The transistors will scale to high voltage while offering up to 10 times lower losses compared to commercial silicon-based transistors available today.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation


The Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) will develop a new approach to internally cool permanent magnet motors. The technology could dramatically improve electric motors' power density and reduce system size and weight. To do so, the team will integrate motor and drive electronics into a unique system packaging incorporating an embedded advanced thermal management system. They will also develop wide bandgap power electronics packaging to enable high power density operations at higher temperature. The new design could substantially increase the power and torque density above the state of the art and enable more energy-efficient electric trucks, buses, and, potentially, aircraft.


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