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ARPA-E Projects

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Displaying 1 - 44 of 44
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/11/2012 to 07/31/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

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.

Program: 
Project Term: 
05/01/2016 to 10/30/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
Air Squared with partners at Argonne National Laboratory, Purdue University, and Mississippi State University, will develop an advanced internal combustion engine (ICE) integrated with an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) for waste heat recovery. The ICE will use spark-assisted compression ignition (SACI) combustion, a turbulent jet ignition (TJI) fueling system, a high compression ratio, and aggressive exhaust gas recirculation to deliver a higher thermal efficiency with low emissions. Traditional internal combustion engines use the force generated by the combustion of a fuel (e.g. natural gas) to move a piston, transferring chemical energy to mechanical energy. This can then be used in conjunction with a generator to create electricity. SACI is an advanced combustion technique that uses a homogeneous mixture of fuel and air with spark assist to enable higher thermal efficiencies and lower emissions. The TJI combustion system further increases thermal efficiency by enabling reliable SACI combustion even with ultra-lean mixtures (i.e. high air to fuel ratio). The ORC design uses mostly the same components of a traditional Rankine cycle, but uses an ammonia/water mixture instead of steam, combined with a novel oil-free scroll expander.
American Manufacturing
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/20/2016 to 09/19/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

American Manufacturing, in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder, will develop a flash sintering system to manufacture solid lithium-conducting electrolytes with high ionic conductivity. Conventional sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass by heat and/or pressure without melting it to the point of changing it to a liquid, similar to pressing a snowball together from loose snow. In conventional sintering a friable ceramic "bisque" is heated for several hours at very high temperatures until it becomes dense and strong. Oxide ceramics for solid-state electrolytes have high melting points, and some are chemically stable and do not react with lithium metal, which can reduce cost and maximize energy density. But the sintering process requires several hours at very high temperatures (1100°C). These conditions conflict with the fast movement of lithium atoms in the solid state, which is a key property of the electrolyte. Therefore, the manufacture of these electrolytes by the conventional sintering process is a key barrier to their cost and viability. In contrast, flash sintering can occur in fewer than 5 seconds, at temperatures below 800°C, and can prevent the loss of lithium experienced in conventional sintering. This project is expected to improve lithium battery technology in the following ways: lowering the cost of sintering and processing; enhancing productivity through roll-to-roll manufacturing of co-sintered multilayers ready to be inserted into devices; and hastening the discovery of new materials by shortening the time between synthesis of new chemistries and their electrochemical evaluation to days instead of months.

Program: 
Project Term: 
09/07/2018 to 09/06/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The Colorado School of Mines will develop a hybrid power generation system that leverages a pressurized, intermediate-temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack and an advanced low-energy-content fuel internal combustion (IC) engine. The custom-designed, turbocharged IC engine will use the exhaust from the anode side of the SOFC as fuel and directly drive a specialized compressor-expander that supplies pressurized air to the fuel cell. High capital costs and poor durability have presented significant barriers to the widespread commercial adoption of SOFC technology. In part, these challenges have been associated with SOFC high operating temperatures of 750-1000°C (1382-1832°F). This team will use a robust, metal-supported SOFC (600°C or 1112°F) technology that will provide greater durability, better heat management, and superior sealing over standard ceramic-supported SOFC designs. The modified diesel IC engine in a hybrid system provides a low-cost, controllable solution to use the remaining chemical energy in the fuel cell exhaust. The system will use the hot air and exhaust gases it produces to keep components running at the proper temperatures to maximize overall efficiency. The team will also develop supporting equipment, including a specialized compressor-expander and power inverter. The new system has the potential to enable highly-efficient, cost-effective distributed power generation.
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2014 to 09/21/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The Colorado School of Mines is developing a mixed proton and oxygen ion conducting electrolyte that will allow a fuel cell to operate at temperatures less than 500°C. By using a proton and oxygen ion electrolyte, the fuel cell stack is able to reduce coking - which clogs anodes with carbon deposits - and enhance the process of turning hydrocarbon fuels into hydrogen. Today's ceramic fuel cells are based on oxygen-ion conducting electrolytes and operate at high temperatures. Mines' advanced mixed proton and oxygen-ion conducting fuel cells will operate on lower temperatures, and have the capacity to run on hydrogen, ethanol, methanol, or methane, representing a drastic improvement over using only oxygen-ion conducting electrolytes. Additionally, the fuel cell will leverage a recently developed ceramic processing technique that decreases fuel cell manufacturing cost and complexity. Additionally, their technology will reduce the number of manufacturing steps from 15 to 3, drastically reducing the cost of distributed generation applications.

Program: 
Project Term: 
07/12/2019 to 07/11/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
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.
Colorado School of Mines
Program: 
Project Term: 
09/27/2016 to 07/31/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The Colorado School of Mines will develop a membrane reactor concept to synthesize ammonia at ambient pressure. In traditional ammonia production processes, nitrogen (N2) and hydrogen (H2) compete for identical catalyst sites, and the presence of each inhibits the other, with the overall rate reflecting a compromise. The team proposes decoupling and independently controlling the N2 and H2 dissociation by dedicating one side of the composite membrane to each. In this way, the catalysts may be individually optimized. Highly effective catalysts have been previously demonstrated for H2 dissociation, and the team's focus will be on exploring early transition metals which have shown great promise as catalysts for N2 dissociation. When perfected, this technology will allow the production of ammonia at ambient pressure, reducing the scale and number of steps required in the process. This method is also an improvement over electrochemical processes, which have a more complicated design and reduced efficiency due to the need for an external voltage.

Colorado School of Mines
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2017 to 11/30/2018
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The Colorado School of Mines will develop a new membrane for redox flow battery systems based on novel, low-cost materials. The membrane is a hybrid polymer that includes heteropoly acid molecules and a special purpose fluorocarbon-based synthetic rubber called a fluoroelastomer. The team will enhance the membrane's selectivity by refining the polymer structure, employing crosslinking techniques, and also through doping the polymer with cesium. The fluoroelastmer is commercially available, thereby contributing to a superior performance-to-cost ratio for the membrane. Flow battery experts at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory will extensively test the selectivity, conductivity, and stability of the membranes developed in this project, and 3M will apply its decades of membrane fabrication experience to scale-up the new technology. If successfully developed, the separator in this project will increase efficiency and reduce cost in existing flow battery systems such as the all-iron redox flow battery.

Colorado School of Mines
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/13/2017 to 09/12/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The Colorado School of Mines will develop a new method for the high-throughput discovery and screening of thermoelectric materials. The objective is to develop a new class of thermoelectric materials that can enable heat-to-electricity efficiencies greater than 20%. Aerosol spray deposition will be used to collect particles on the solid surfaces, allowing high throughput synthesis with finely tuned composition control. To achieve the thermoelectric performance desired, a tight feedback loop between synthesis, characterization, and theory will be employed to actively guide the design of experiments. To identify materials with high mobility and low thermal conductivity, the team developed metrics that combine experimental and computational training data. These efforts are guided by the team's existing high-throughput calculation database, which has identified specific families of previously unexplored materials with high potential for thermoelectric performance. Over the last two years, these computational methods have been applied to 10,000 compounds, yielding the most extensive database of thermoelectric performance in the world. By considering thousands of compositions within a single structural family, trends in electronic and thermal conductivity emerge that could not have been predicted from a few samples produced with traditional bulk ceramic methods. High-throughput search techniques are particularly critical because the desired qualities are likely to only occur within a narrow chemical composition. The team expects to grow and characterize more than 20 macroscopic samples per day, a significant increase in throughput compared to conventional approaches.

Colorado State University (CSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/05/2016 to 11/20/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

Colorado State University (CSU) and its partners are developing an inexpensive, polymer-based, energy-saving material that can be applied to windows as a retrofit. The team will develop a coating consisting of polymers that can rapidly self-assemble into orderly layers that will reflect infrared wavelengths but pass visible light. As such, the coating will help reduce building cooling requirements and energy use without darkening the room. The polymers can be applied as a paint, meaning that deployment could be faster, less expensive, and more widespread because homeowners can apply the window coatings themselves instead of paying for a technician. The team estimates that up to 75% of the dry film could be produced from commodity plastic, which has the potential to significantly reduce the current costs associated with manufacturing window coatings.

Colorado State University (CSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
11/10/2015 to 05/09/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
Colorado State University (CSU) and its partners, Modine and Barber-Nichols, will develop a thermally powered supplemental cooling system for thermoelectric power plants that will enable dry cooling. The technology features a transformational turbo-compressor and low-cost, high-performance heat exchangers that are currently mass produced for the HVAC industry. To operate, low-grade waste heat from the power plant combustion exhaust gases, or flue gas, is captured and used to power a highly efficient turbo-compressor system. The compressor pressurizes vapor in a refrigeration cycle to remove up to 30% of the power plant cooling load. The cooling system utilizes proprietary technology to maximize the turbo compressor and total system efficiencies, enabling a low production cost and an overall smaller, less expensive dry-cooling system. As a result, the cooling system could allow thermoelectric power plants to maintain a high efficiency while eliminating the use of local water resources. Furthermore, due to its very high performance, the turbo-compression cooling system has potential applications in a range of other markets, including commercial HVAC systems, data center cooling, and distributed cooling industries.
Colorado State University (CSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/04/2013 to 10/03/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
Colorado State University (CSU) is developing technology to rapidly introduce novel traits into crops that currently cannot be readily engineered. Presently, a limited number of crops can be engineered, and the processes are not standardized - restricting the agricultural sources for engineered biofuel production. More--and more diverse--biofuel crops could substantially improve the efficiency, time scale, and geographic range of biofuel production. CSU's approach would enable simple and efficient engineering of a broad range of bioenergy crops using synthetic biology tools to standardize their genetic modification.
Colorado State University (CSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2016 to 09/30/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The team, led by Colorado State University (CSU), will develop a test site facility near Fort Collins, CO where ARPA-E can evaluate the methane sensing technologies of the MONITOR project teams, as required by the MONITOR FOA. The CSU team will design, construct, and operate a natural gas testing facility that can determine whether MONITOR technologies have met or exceeded the technical performance targets set forth by the MONITOR program. The test facility will be designed to realistically mimic the layout of a broad range of natural gas facilities and equipment. The test facility will include a number of controlled natural gas emission release points that will be realistic in terms of location, magnitude, frequency, duration, and gas composition. The design will also include sub-facilities that can simulate different aspects of the natural gas industry supply chain such as dry gas production, wet gas production, midstream compression, metering and regulating stations, and underground pipeline releases. The test site is located in the Denver-Julesburg basin, but will be sufficiently far enough away from natural gas operations that background levels of methane will be very low. Thus, the site will provide a realistic, but highly controllable environment within which the MONITOR technologies can be accurately tested.

Colorado State University (CSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/03/2017 to 10/20/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

Colorado State University (CSU) will develop a high-throughput ground-based robotic platform that will characterize a plant's root system and the surrounding soil chemistry to better understand how plants cycle carbon and nitrogen in soil. CSU's robotic platform will use a suite of sensor technologies to investigate crop genetic-environment interaction and generate data to improve models of chemical cycling of soil carbon and nitrogen in agricultural environments. The platform will collect information on root structure and depth, and deploy a novel spectroscopic technology to quantify levels of carbon and other key elements in the soil. The technology proposed by the Colorado State team aims to speed the application of genetic and genomic tools for the discovery and deployment of root traits that control plant growth and soil carbon cycling. Crops will be studied at two field sites in Colorado and Arizona with diverse advantages and challenges to crop productivity, and the data collected will be used to develop a sophisticated carbon flux model. The sensing platform will allow characterization of the root systems in the ground and lead to improved quantification of soil health. The collected data will be managed and analyzed through the CyVerse "big data" computational analytics platform, enabling public access to data connecting aboveground plant traits with belowground soil carbon accumulation.

Program: 
Project Term: 
08/01/2019 to 07/31/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
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.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

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.

Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 06/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
ITN Energy Systems 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.
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: 
04/16/2019 to 04/15/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory team will develop a high-temperature, low-cost thermal energy storage system using a high-performance heat exchanger and Brayton combined-cycle turbine to generate power. Electric heaters will heat stable, inexpensive solid particles to temperatures greater than 1100°C (2012°F) during charging, which can be stored in insulated silos for several days. To discharge the system, the hot particles will be fed through the fluidized bed heat exchanger, heating a working fluid to drive the gas turbine attached to a generator. The electricity storage system is designed to be deployed economically anywhere in the United States.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
08/24/2016 to 11/30/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with partner MIT-Comillas-IIT, will develop combined distribution-transmission power grid models. The team will create distribution models using a version of Comillas' Reference Network Model (RNM) that will be adapted to U.S. utilities and based on real data from a broad range of utility partners. The models will be complemented by the development of customizable scenarios that can be used for accurate algorithm comparisons. These scenarios will take into account unknown factors that affect the grid, such as future power generation technologies, increasing distributed energy resources, varying electrical load, disruptions due to weather events, and repeatable contingency sequences. These enhanced datasets and associated data building tools are intended to provide large-scale test cases that realistically describe potential future grid systems and enable the nation's research community to more accurately test advanced algorithms and control architectures. MIT-Comillas-IIT will assist NREL with the distribution model creation. Alstom Grid will assist in validating the distribution models.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/06/2014 to 02/18/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is developing a low-cost battery system that uses safe and inexpensive organic energy storage materials that can be pumped in and out of the system. NREL's battery, known as a "liquid-phase organic redox system," uses newly developed non-flammable compounds from biological sources to reduce cost while improving the amount of energy that can be stored. The battery's unique construction will enable a 5-minute "fast-charge" and promote long life by allowing for the rapid replacement of liquid electrodes. NREL anticipates an energy density of approximately 590 watt hours per liter with a cost of only $72 per kilowatt hour.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/19/2016 to 01/18/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) lead team will develop a comprehensive distribution network management framework that unifies real-time voltage and frequency control at the home/DER controllers' level with network-wide energy management at the utility/aggregator level. The distributed control architecture will continuously steer operating points of DERs toward optimal solutions of pertinent optimization problems, while dynamically procuring and dispatching synthetic reserves based on current system state and forecasts of ambient and load conditions. The control algorithms invoke simple mathematical operations that can be embedded on low-cost microcontrollers, and enable distributed decision making on time scales that match the dynamics of distribution systems with high renewable integration.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/22/2016 to 04/21/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

This project team, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will employ hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE), a fast growth technique used to produce semiconductors, to lower the manufacturing cost of multijunction solar cells. Additionally the team will develop new materials to be used in the HVPE process, enabling a chemical liftoff method that allows reuse of substrates. The chemical liftoff will mitigate costs of substrates, further reducing the overall system cost. NREL's approach will leverage this improved HVPE technology to produce thin, flexible, highly efficient multijunction cells, with very high power at low cost. III-V PV has several inherent advantages over other PV materials, including higher efficiency, low temperature coefficients, and low material usage. The novel combination of HVPE growth of multijunction solar cells and substrate reuse could result in more cost-effective, higher performing multijunction solar cells, which could ultimately lower the cost and increase the efficiency of PV systems. These innovations could spur greater adoption of PV systems and reduce reliance on fossil-fuel power generation.

Program: 
Project Term: 
09/20/2019 to 09/19/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory team will develop technologies and component devices enabling a high-rate drilling method using electric pulses to bore hot, deep geothermal wells. Compared to the softer, sedimentary rock typically found in oil and gas wells, geothermal rock is harder and less porous, and at significantly higher temperatures. These factors generate slow geothermal drilling rates averaging only 125 feet per day compared to greater than 40 times this achieved in sedimentary rock. If successful, the high-rate technology could transform drilling techniques across multiple industries. Project activities will focus on developing and testing pulsed power electronics capable of surviving the high temperatures encountered in geothermal rock. Component development will be carried out with systems integration in mind, enabling a rapid upgrade from a low-temperature rated drilling tool to a high-temperature version.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2013 to 12/30/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is developing a solar thermoelectric generator to directly convert heat from concentrated sunlight to electricity. Thermoelectric devices can directly convert heat to electricity, yet due to cost and efficiency limitations they have not been viewed as a viable large-scale energy conversion technology. However, new thermoelectric materials have dramatically increased the efficiency of direct heat-to-electricity conversion. NREL is using these innovative materials to develop a new solar thermoelectric generator. This device will concentrate sunlight onto an absorbing surface on top of a thermoelectric stage, the resulting temperature difference between the top and bottom of the device will drive the generator to produce electricity at 3 times the efficiency of current systems. NREL's solar thermoelectric generator could reduce the cost associated with converting large amounts of solar energy into electricity through a much simpler and scalable process which does not rely upon moving parts and transfer fluids.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2013 to 04/30/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado (CU) are developing a way to enhance plastic solar cells to capture a larger part of the solar spectrum. Conventional plastic solar cells can be inexpensive to fabricate but do not efficiently convert light into electricity. NREL is designing novel device architecture for plastic solar cells that would enhance the utilization of parts of the solar spectrum for a wide array of plastic solar cell types. To develop these plastic solar cells, NREL and CU will leverage computational modeling and advanced facilities specializing in processing plastic PVs. NREL's plastic solar cell devices have the potential to exceed the power conversion efficiencies of traditional plastic solar cells by up to threefold.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/20/2016 to 12/31/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and its partners will create a network architecture that approaches sustainable transportation as a dynamic system of travelers and decision points, rather than one of vehicles and roads, in order to create personalized energy-saving opportunities. The project will use currently available demographic and transportation data from an urban U.S. city as a test bed for energy reduction. To incentivize travelers to pursue energy-efficient routes, the control architecture will develop algorithms to understand a traveler's preferences, tailor recommendations to the user, and identify personal incentives that will enable transportation system energy benefits. The Connected Traveler framework will provide local transportation authorities and individual travelers with a tool to identify personal travel decisions that balance quality of service with energy efficiency.

Program: 
Project Term: 
07/12/2010 to 03/31/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
OPX Biotechnologies is engineering a microorganism currently used in industrial biotechnology to directly produce a liquid fuel from hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). The microorganism has the natural ability to use hydrogen and CO2 for growth. OPX Biotechnologies is modifying the microorganism to divert energy and carbon away from growth and towards the production of liquid fuels in larger, commercially viable quantities. The microbial system will produce a fuel precursor that can be chemically upgraded to various hydrocarbon fuels.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2014 to 06/30/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
Solid Power is developing a new low-cost, all-solid-state battery for EVs with greater energy storage capacity and a lighter, safer design compared to lithium-ion batteries. Conventional batteries are expensive, perform poorly at high temperatures and require heavy protective components to ensure safety. In contrast, Solid Power's liquid-free cells store more energy for their size and weight, but use non-flammable and non-volatile materials that are stable high temperatures. This results in improved safety in the event of a collision or fire. Additionally, Solid Power plans to use low-cost, abundant materials in the range of $10-$20/kg that could reduce battery manufacturing costs, to help drive down the cost of EVs.
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/01/2016 to 05/31/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The team led by Starfire Energy will develop a modular, small-scale, HB-type process for ammonia synthesis. The team's innovative approach is less energy-intensive and more economical than conventional, large-scale HB because a novel electroactive catalyst allows operation at lower temperatures and pressures. Their approach combines a high-activity precious metal catalyst and an electroactive catalyst support to form ammonia molecules, while operating at moderate pressures and using localized high-temperature reaction zones. The extreme reaction conditions in conventional HB require that the process runs continuously, as turning on and off would require bringing the reactor back up to synthesis temperature. Since Starfire's process is smaller scale, it does not require continuous energy input and therefore could be compatible with intermittent energy sources, setting it on a path to be carbon-neutral.

Program: 
Project Term: 
08/06/2015 to 08/05/2016
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

TDA Research will develop a water recovery system that extracts and condenses 64% of the water vapor produced by the gas turbine in a natural gas combined cycle's (NGCC) power plant and stores this water for use in evaporative cooling. The system will provide supplemental cooling to NGCC power plants in which the combustion process - burning the natural gas to produce heat - produces a significant quantity of water vapor that is typically discharged to the atmosphere. First, a direct-contact condensation cycle will recover 27% of water vapor from the flue gas. To increase the amount of water recovered, a desiccant, which is a substance that attracts water, will be used to absorb an additional 37% of the water vapor. TDA's desiccant cycle utilizes the waste heat in the exhaust to regenerate the desiccant for reuse. This water recovery cycle would occur during cooler months when the water from combustion is easier to capture. Much of the water collected during this period will then be stored in an adjacent lake and saved for use during hotter summer months when evaporative cooling offers the maximum benefit to improve power plant efficiency. The project team estimates that its technology can reduce the performance penalty of a dry-cooling system by 30% compared to wet cooling. Moreover, the team is designing the system to use low-cost materials, which reduces capital costs.

University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2011 to 07/31/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
Alongside Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute, the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) is developing a membrane made of a gelled ionic liquid to capture CO2 from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants. The membranes are created by spraying the gelled ionic liquids in thin layers onto porous support structures using a specialized coating technique. The new membrane is highly efficient at pulling CO2 out of coal-derived flue gas exhaust while restricting the flow of other materials through it. The design involves few chemicals or moving parts and is more mechanically stable than current technologies. The team is now working to further optimize the gelled materials for CO2 separation and create a membrane layer that is less than 1 micrometer thick.
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/28/2018 to 03/27/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Bolder) and its project team will develop new composite SiC power converter technology that achieves high power and voltage conversion (250 VDC to 1200 VDC) in a smaller package than ever achieved due largely to improved switching dynamics and reduced need for large passive energy storage components. Also, utilizing higher system voltage in vehicular power systems has been proven to enable vehicle manufacturers to use thinner and lighter wires and improve vehicle powertrain system efficiency. The team seeks to demonstrate the power converter as an on-board, high-power, multifunctional system for both charging electric vehicles and providing power to the motor. The project will lead to experimental demonstration of a 100 kW multifunction electric vehicle power conversion system that includes integrated wired charging and wireless charging functions. If successful, the CU-Boulder team will make important progress towards reducing the size, cost, and complexity of power systems associated with electric vehicles.

University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/15/2015 to 08/14/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) proposes to develop a capacitive wireless power transfer (WPT) architecture to dynamically charge EVs. Dynamic charging poses serious technical challenges. Transmitters must be connected to the plates in the road while rectifiers and battery charging is integrated with the plates in the vehicle. While energy transfer through the air is efficient, the large distance between the embedded vehicle plates and the road results in a weaker pairing between the two. To effectively transfer kilowatts of power without exceeding safe voltages, the operating frequency of the resonant inverters has to be very high. Today's WPT systems operate with resonant magnetic fields focused with hefty ferrite cores and losses in these ferrites limit the frequency at which these systems can operate to less than 150 kHz. This project focuses on capacitive WPT with potentially higher efficiency than resonant inductive power transfer, while reducing size and cost. The team will develop a novel MHz frequency capacitive WPT system that safely operates within the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radio spectrum. The team's WPT technology aims to improve EVs by reducing the need for expensive and bulky on-board batteries, enable unlimited driving range, and accelerate electric vehicle penetration. The project aims to design a 1-kW 12-cm air gap capacitive WPT, which targets >90% efficiency and 50 kW/m2 power transfer density, a power density improvement of 2 over current methods.

University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/09/2012 to 08/31/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) is developing advanced power conversion components that can be integrated into individual solar panels to improve energy yields. The solar energy that is absorbed and collected by a solar panel is converted into useable energy for the grid through an electronic component called an inverter. Many large, conventional solar energy systems use one, central inverter to convert energy. CU-Boulder is integrating smaller, microconverters into individual solar panels to improve the efficiency of energy collection. The university's microconverters rely on electrical components that direct energy at high speeds and ensure that minimal energy is lost during the conversion process--improving the overall efficiency of the power conversion process. CU-Boulder is designing its power conversion devices for use on any type of solar panel.
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/28/2018 to 05/28/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) will develop an integrated occupancy detection system based on a radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor network combined with privacy-preserving microphones and low-resolution cameras to detect human presence. The system may also analyze electrical noise on power lines throughout a residential home to infer occupancy in different areas. The system will draw its accuracy from the combination of data sources, uncovering human presence not only from physical image and audio sensor data, but also considering what electrical activity reveals about human activity. All of these data streams (image, audio, and electrical activity) will be combined in computationally efficient ways to enable high accuracy human presence detection. The low powered devices in this system will be wirelessly powered, allowing the system to be deployed in a home without costly and invasive rewiring.

University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/08/2015 to 03/10/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) will team up with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (a partnership between CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to develop a reduced-cost, dual frequency comb spectrometer. The frequency comb would consist of 105 evenly spaced, sharp, single frequency laser lines covering a broad wavelength range that includes the unique absorption signatures of natural gas constituents like methane. The team has shown that frequency comb spectrometers can measure methane and other gases at parts-per-billion concentration levels over kilometer-long path lengths. Current, long-range sensing systems cannot detect methane with high sensitivity, accuracy, or stability. The team's frequency combs, however, are planned to be able to detect and distinguish methane, ethane, propane, and other gases without frequent calibration. When integrated into a complete methane detection system, the combs could lower the costs of methane sensing due to their ability to survey large areas or multiple gas fields simultaneously. When employed as part of a complete methane detection system, the team's innovation aims to improve the accuracy of methane detection while decreasing the costs of systems, which could encourage widespread adoption of methane emission mitigation at natural gas sites.

Program: 
Project Term: 
04/01/2019 to 03/31/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The University of Colorado Boulder will develop 3D-printed, biodegradable soil sensor nodes to enable farmers to precisely assess soil moisture and nitrogen levels, which will provide insight into crop water and fertilizer needs. These low cost nodes can be embedded in a field to accurately and continuously monitor soil health for an entire season before degrading completely and harmlessly into the soil. This approach could enable real-time soil monitoring by farmers, enabling them to reduce agriculture's energy footprint and water needs and increase soil carbon.
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/02/2019 to 04/01/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The University of Colorado Boulder aims to revolutionize thermoelectrics, the semiconductor devices that convert heat flow into electricity without moving parts or emitting pollutants, by creating a "nanophononic" thermoelectric device. This concept relies on a newly discovered phenomenon where closely packed tiny structures added perpendicular to a thin solid membrane impede the flow of heat down the membrane through atomic vibrations (phonons). The device is predicted to convert waste heat to electricity at twice the efficiency of today's best thermoelectric devices.
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2014 to 06/30/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) is developing a new solar-powered magnesium production reactor with dramatically improved energy efficiency compared to conventional technologies. Today's magnesium production processes are expensive and require large amounts of electricity. CU-Boulder's reactor can be heated using either concentrated solar power during the day or by electricity at night. CU-Boulder's reactor would dramatically reduce CO2 emissions compared to existing technologies at lower cost because it requires less electricity and can be powered using solar energy. In addition, the reactor can produce syngas, a synthetic gasoline precursor, which could be used to power cars and trucks.
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/01/2016 to 06/30/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) will develop a new type of anion-exchange membrane for chloride (Cl-) transport that is based on a nanoporous lyotropic liquid crystal structure that minimizes cation crossover by molecular size-exclusion and charge exclusion. Due to a lack of suitable Cl- conducting membranes, flow batteries often use microporous membranes or cation-exchange membranes (CEM) to separate the two electrode chambers. Microporous membranes are inexpensive, but do not provide perfect barriers to intermixing of the reactants (or "crossover") that reduces the battery's efficiency and, in some cases, damages critical components. In contrast, CEMs such as Nafion provide better isolation but are far more expensive, and also permit the migration of water and protons which can change the pH (acidity) and lead to inefficiencies and undesired side reactions in the battery. This project aims to develop a low-cost separator that eliminates crossover in all-iron flow batteries. The membrane allows for ion transport via nanochannels, which are engineered to have sizes below those of common hydrated cations, thus exhibiting perfect cation rejection. In the all-iron battery, key benefits of reduced crossover include increased roundtrip efficiency as well as the reduction of pH swings and water transport, and hence the reduction or elimination of the rebalancing stacks and system management schemes. In the future, the membrane developed in this project could also be used with other lower cost redox couples, including those using two different elements as active species. The low cost, increased efficiency, and long lifetime of these membranes have the potential to significantly increase the economic viability of flow batteries.

University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/01/2013 to 06/29/2017
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) is using nanotechnology to improve the structure of natural gas-to-liquids catalysts. The greatest difficulty in industrial-scale catalyst activity is temperature control, which can only be solved by improving reactor design. CU-Boulder's newly structured catalyst creates a small-scale reactor for converting natural gas to liquid fuels that can operate at moderate temperatures. Additionally, CU-Boulder's small-scale reactors could be located near remote, isolated sources of natural gas, further enabling their use as domestic fuel sources.
University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
11/14/2016 to 08/13/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) with its partners will develop a flexible window film made of nanostructured cellulose. The film can be applied onto single-pane windows to improve their energy efficiency without compromising transparency. The team will be able to economically harvest cellulose needed for the films from food waste using a bacteria-driven process. The cellulose will self-assemble into liquid crystal type structures that selectively reflect infrared light (or heat) while transmitting visible light. The technology is related to liquid crystals that are used in display screens ranging from smart phones to flat-panel HDTVs. The optical properties of these crystals arise from fine-tuning the arrangement of the individual molecules and nanostructures that compose the crystals. Engineering the liquid crystals to be transparent to visible light but able to reflect infrared light will allow heat retention in building spaces, similar to low-emissivity glass.

University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/31/2015 to 09/30/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Colorado
Technical Categories: 
Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) will develop Radicold, a radiative cooling and cold water storage system to enable supplemental cooling for thermoelectric power plants. In the Radicold system, condenser water circulates through a series of pipes and passes under a number of cooling modules before it is sent to the central water storage unit. Each cooling module consists of a novel radiative-cooling surface integrated on top of a thermosiphon, thereby simultaneously cooling the water and eliminating the need for a pump to circulate it. The microstructured polymer film discharges heat from the water by radiating in the infrared through the Earth's atmosphere into the heat sink of cold, deep space. Below the film, a metal film reflects all incoming sunlight. This results in cooling with a heat flux of more than 100 W/m2 during both day and nighttime operation. CU-Boulder will use roll-to-roll manufacturing, a low-cost manufacturing technique that is capable of high-volume production, to fabricate the microstructured RadiCold film.