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ARPA-E Projects

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Displaying 1 - 35 of 35
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/12/2017 to 01/11/2020
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) with its partners will develop a transparent nanofoam polymer that can be incorporated into a window film/coating for single-pane windows. The transparent polymer-nanoparticle composite will be applied to glass, and will improve the thermal insulation and the soundproofing of a window. Key to this technology is the generation of small and hollow nanometer-sized particles with thin shells. These will be embedded in a polymer with a carefully controlled structure and uniform dispersal of nanoshells in the polymer matrix. Competing approaches such as those used for silica aerogels have limited ability to fine tune the material's structure, resulting in materials with weaker mechanical strength, difficulties with transparency, and high processing costs. ANL will develop materials fabricated with self-assembly and a level of precision that allows careful prediction of how light and heat transmit through the material. The team also plans to introduce ultrasound-enhanced continuous processing techniques to manufacture the nanofoam at low cost and with high transparency without undesired haze and enhanced sound isolation capabilities. ANL predicts that the technology will enable an inexpensive window film that can be installed by the homeowner to upgrade a single-glazed window to double-glazed performance at about 25% of the cost.

Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2014 to 03/31/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
ANL is developing a new hybrid fuel cell technology that could generate both electricity and liquid fuels from natural gas. Existing fuel cell technologies typically convert chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity during a chemical reaction with oxygen or some other agent. In addition to generating electricity from hydrogen, ANL's fuel cell would produce ethylene--a liquid fuel precursor--from natural gas. In this design, a methane-coupling catalyst is added to the anode side of a fuel cell that, when fed with natural gas, creates a chemical reaction that produces ethylene and utilizes leftover hydrogen, which is then passed through a proton-conducting membrane to generate electricity. Removing hydrogen from the reaction site leads to increased conversion of natural gas to ethylene.
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2012 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) is developing a cost-effective exchange-spring magnet to use in the electric motors of wind generators and EVs that uses no rare earth materials. This ANL exchange-spring magnet combines a hard magnetic outer shell with a soft magnetic inner core--coupling these together increases the performance (energy density and operating temperature). The hard and soft magnet composite particles would be created at the molecular level, followed by consolidation in a magnetic field. This process allows the particles to be oriented to maximize the magnetic properties of low-cost and abundant metals, eliminating the need for expensive imported rare earths. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new type of magnet in a prototype electric motor.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2012 to 12/31/2015
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Chromatin will engineer sweet sorghum--a plant that naturally produces large quantities of sugar and requires little water--to accumulate the fuel precursor farnesene, a molecule that can be blended into diesel fuel. Chromatin's proprietary technology enables the introduction of a completely novel biosynthetic process into the plant to produce farnesene, enabling sorghum to accumulate up to 20% of its weight as fuel. Chromatin will also introduce a trait to improve biomass yields in sorghum. The farnesene will accumulate in the sorghum plants--similar to the way in which it currently stores sugar--and can be extracted and converted into a type of diesel fuel using low-cost, conventional methods. Sorghum can be easily grown and harvested in many climates with low input of water or fertilizer, and is already planted on an agricultural scale. The technology will be demonstrated in a model plant, guayule, before being used in sorghum.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/15/2014 to 06/13/2014
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Coskata is engineering methanol fermentation into an anaerobic microorganism to enable a low-cost biological approach for liquid fuel production. Currently, the most well-known processes available to convert methane into fuel are expensive and energy-intensive. Coskata is constructing strains of the anaerobic bacteria to efficiently and cost-effectively convert activated methane to butanol, an alcohol that can be used directly as part of a fuel blend. Coskata's process involves molecular genetics to introduce and control specific genes, and to inactivate undesired pathways, together with fermentation optimization of constructed strains. Further, the team will work to increase the tolerance of these strains to high concentrations of butanol, an essential element of the technology.
Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2014 to 03/31/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is developing a continuously operating cell that produces low-cost aluminum powder using less energy than conventional methods. Conventional aluminum production is done by pumping huge electrical currents into a vat of molten aluminum dissolved in mineral salts at nearly 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. GTI's technology occurs near room temperature using reusable solvents to dissolve the ore. Because GTI's design relies on chemical dissolution rather than heat, its cells can operate at room temperature, meaning it does not suffer from wasteful thermal energy losses associated with conventional systems. GTI's electrochemical cell could also make aluminum production significantly less expensive by using less costly, domestically available ore with no drop in quality.
Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/01/2016 to 02/28/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The team led by Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will develop a conventional automotive engine as a reactor to convert ethane into ethylene by using a new catalyst and reactor design that could enable record-breaking conversion yields. The technology proposed by GTI would use a reciprocating engine as a variable volume oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) reactor. This means a conventional engine would be modified with a new valving mechanism that would take advantage of high flow rates and high pressure and temperature regime that already exists in an internal combustion engine. This process requires no energy input, does produce minimal CO2 emissions, and improves yields to about 80% at one third the cost. The ODH reactor engine's relatively small size and high throughput will enable ethylene producers to add ethylene production capacity without the financial risk of building a billion-dollar steam cracking plant. This technology will reduce energy-related emissions and could enable the U.S. plastics industry to increase utilization of low-cost, domestic ethane to produce ethylene for plastics.

Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
09/07/2016 to 09/30/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will develop a sulfur-based methane oxidation process, known as soft oxidation, to convert methane into liquid fuels and chemicals. Current gas-to-liquid technology for converting methane to liquid hydrocarbons requires massive scale to achieve economic production. The large plant size makes this approach unsuitable to address the challenge of distributed methane emissions. Soft oxidation is a method better suited to address this challenge because of its modular nature. It also addresses a major limitation of conventional gas-to-liquid technology: the irreversible conversion of methane and oxygen to carbon dioxide. In this project, GTI will demonstrate and optimize a two-step methane soft oxidation process and develop a fully integrated system that converts methane to liquid hydrocarbons, recovers the valuable liquids and hydrogen gas, and recycles the remaining products. A key difference with traditional oxygen-based approaches is that GTI's method allows for some hydrogen recovery, whereas in oxygen-based approaches the hydrogen must be consumed completely. Soft oxidation has a higher efficiency because of this, and it lacks the need for complex heat integration and recovery methods that require large scale plants. If successful, this new process could provide an economic pathway to significantly reduce methane emissions through on-site conversion.

Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/01/2017 to 05/31/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will develop a process for producing dimethyl ether (DME) from renewable electricity, air, and water. DME is a clean-burning fuel that is easily transported as a liquid and can be used as a drop-in fuel in internal combustion engines or directly in DME fuel cells. Ultimately carbon dioxide (CO2) would be captured from sustainable sources, such as biogas production, and fed into a reactor with hydrogen generated from high temperature water splitting. The CO2 and hydrogen react on a bifunctional catalyst to form methanol and a subsequently DME. To improve conversion to DME, GTI will use a novel catalytic membrane reactor with a zeolite membrane. This reactor improves product yield by shifting thermodynamic equilibrium towards product formation and decreases catalyst deactivation and kinetic inhibition due to water formation. The final DME product is separated and the unreacted chemicals are recycled back to the catalytic reactor. Each component of the process is modular, compact, and requires no additional inputs aside from water, CO2, and electricity, while the entire system is designed from the ground up to be compatible with intermittent renewable energy sources.
Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2013 to 12/31/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is developing a natural gas tank for light-duty vehicles that features a thin, tailored shell containing microscopic valves which open and close on demand to manage pressure within the tank. Traditional natural gas storage tanks are thick and heavy, which makes them expensive to manufacture. GTI's tank design uses unique adsorbent pellets with nano-scale pores surrounded by a coating that functions as valves to help manage the pressure of the gas and facilitate more efficient storage and transportation. GTI's low-pressure tanks would have thinner walls than today's best alternatives, resulting in a lighter, more affordable product with increased storage capacity.
Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2013 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is developing a new process to convert natural gas or methane-containing gas into methanol and hydrogen for liquid fuel. Methanol serves as the main feedstock for dimethyl ether, which could be used for vehicular fuel. Unfortunately, current methods to produce liquid fuels from natural gas require large and expensive facilities that use significant amounts of energy. GTI's process uses metal oxide catalysts that are continuously regenerated in a reactor, similar to a battery, to convert the methane into methanol. These metal oxide catalysts reduce the energy required during the conversion process. This process operates at room temperature, is more energy efficient, and less capital-intensive than existing methods.
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 03/31/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will partner with Northwestern University, NuMat Technologies, a Northwestern start-up company, and Westport Fuel Systems to identify materials with the best characteristics for low-pressure natural gas storage. The gas-storing materials, known as metal organic framework (MOF) adsorbents, hold natural gas the way a sponge holds liquids. The project team will further develop their computer modeling and screening technique to support the creation of a low-pressure adsorbent material specifically designed for natural gas vehicles. The team will also validate the materials properties in real-world conditions. Low-pressure gas tanks represent significant potential for lowering not only the cost of NGVs, but also the cost of fueling by reducing the need to compress the gas.
Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/13/2014 to 01/31/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is developing a hybrid solar converter that focuses sunlight onto solar cells with a reflective backside mirror. These solar cells convert most visible wavelengths of sunlight to electricity while reflecting the unused wavelengths to heat a stream of flowing particles. The particles are used to store the heat for use immediately or at a later time to drive a turbine and produce electricity. GTI's design integrates the parabolic trough mirrors, commonly used in CSP plants, into a dual-mirror system that captures the full solar spectrum while storing heat to dispatch electricity when the sun does not shine. Current solar cell technologies capture limited portions of the solar spectrum to generate electricity that must be used immediately. By using back-reflecting gallium arsenide (GaAs) cells, this hybrid converter is able to generate both electricity from specific solar wavelengths and capture the unused light as heat in the flowing particles. The particle-based heat storage system is a departure from standard fluid-based heat storage approaches and could enable much more efficient and higher energy density heat storage. GTI's converter could be used to provide solar electricity whether or not the sun is shining.
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2014 to 12/31/2015
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is collaborating with Argonne National Laboratory to develop a rechargeable flow battery for EVs that uses a nanotechnology-based electrochemical liquid fuel that offers over 30 times the energy density of traditional electrolytes. Flow batteries, which store chemical energy in external tanks instead of within the battery container, are typically low in energy density and therefore not well suited for transportation. However, IIT's flow battery uses a liquid electrolyte containing a large portion of nanoparticles to carry its charge; increases its energy density while ensuring stability and low-resistance flow within the battery. IIT's technology could enable a whole new class of high-energy-density flow batteries. This unique battery design could be manufactured domestically using an easily scalable process.
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/18/2017 to 12/17/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) will develop autonomously operated, programmable, and intelligent bidirectional solid-state circuit breakers (SSCB) using transistors based on gallium nitride (GaN). Renewable power sources and other distributed energy resources feed electricity to the utility grid through interfacing power electronic converters, but the power converters cannot withstand a fault condition (abnormal electric current) for more than a few microseconds. Circuit faults cause either catastrophic destruction or protective shutdown of the converters, resulting in loss of power reliability. Traditional mechanical circuit breakers are too slow to address this challenge. The team's proposed SSCB technology offers a programmable response time to as short as one microsecond, well within the overload-withstanding capability of power converters, and enables a distribution system-level ability to isolate a fault from the rest of the power system before renewable power generation is interrupted. Their design produces a 1000x decrease in response time and 5x reduction in cost in comparison to commercial mechanical circuit breakers. If successful, such devices could be used to help protect microgrids and enable higher penetration of renewable energy sources.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/29/2014 to 02/28/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

LanzaTech will combine methane fermentation expertise, experimental bioreactor characterization, as well as advanced simulation and modeling to develop a novel gas fermentation system that can significantly improve gas to liquid mass transfer, or the rate at which methane gas is delivered to a biocatalyst. This unique bioreactor concept seeks to efficiently transfer methane to microbial biocatalysts by reducing the energy demand required for high transfer rates. Although methane is a flammable gas, the new technology also maintains the safe operation necessary for a small-scale conversion process. This bioreactor design would significantly reduce capital and operating costs, enabling small-scale deployment of fuel production from remote natural gas sources. LanzaTech's new gas fermentation system could help produce liquid fuel at a cost of less than $2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/20/2013 to 09/01/2015
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
MicroLink Devices is developing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells to capture concentrated sunlight in an effort to increase the amount of electricity generated by concentrating solar power plants. The continued growth of the CPV market depends strongly on continuing to reduce the cost of CPV solar cell technologies. MicroLink will make an all-lattice-matched solar cell that can achieve greater power conversion efficiency than conventional CPV technologies, thereby reducing the cost of generating electricity. In addition, MicroLink will use manufacturing techniques that allow for the reuse of expensive solar cell manufacturing templates to minimize costs. MicroLink's innovative high-efficiency solar cell design has the potential to reduce PV electricity costs well below the cost of electricity from conventional non-concentrating PV modules.
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/11/2014 to 08/04/2016
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

MicroLink Devices is developing a high-efficiency solar cell that can maintain efficient operation at high temperatures and leverage reusable cell templates to reduce overall cell cost. MicroLink's cell will be able to operate at temperatures above 400°C, unlike today's solar cells, which lose efficiency rapidly above 100°C and are likely to fail at high temperatures over time. MicroLink's specialized dual-junction design will allow the cell to extract significantly more energy from the sun at high temperature than today's cells, enabling the next generation of hybrid solar converters to deliver much higher quantities of electricity and useful dispatchable heat. When integrated into hybrid solar converters, heat rejected from the cells at high temperature can be stored and used to generate electricity when the sun is not shining.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/10/2014 to 12/09/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
MicroLink Devices will engineer affordable, high-performance transistors for power conversion. Currently, high-performance power transistors are prohibitively expensive because they are grown on expensive gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor wafers. In conventional manufacturing processes, this expensive wafer is permanently attached to the transistor, so the wafer can only be used once. MicroLink Devices will develop an innovative method to remove the transistor structure from the wafer without damaging any components, enabling wafer reuse and significantly reducing costs.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/18/2010 to 10/13/2011
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

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

Program: 
Project Term: 
06/15/2016 to 12/14/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Northwestern University and its partners will develop a frequency-based load control architecture to provide additional frequency response capability and allow increased renewable generation on the grid. The work will focus on developing and demonstrating algorithms that adapt to rapid changes of loads, generation, and system configuration while taking into account various constraints arising from the transmission and distribution networks. The multi-layer control architecture makes it possible to simultaneously ensure system stability at the transmission network level, control frequency at the local distribution network level, and maintain the quality-of-service for individual customers at the building level, all under a single framework. At the transmission level, coordination among different areas will be achieved through a centralized scheme to ensure stable frequency synchronization, while the control decisions within a single area will be made based on local information. The efficiency of the centralized scheme will be ensured by decomposing the network into smaller components on which the control problem is solved individually. At the local distribution network level, the control scheme will be decentralized, in which control decisions are made based on the state of the neighboring nodes. At the building level, dynamic models for flexible appliances and DERs will be developed and used to design algorithms to optimally follow a given aggregated load profile.
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/12/2014 to 11/15/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
Northwestern University and partners will leverage computational protein design to engineer and repurpose a natural catalyst to convert methane gas to liquid fuel. Current industrial processes to convert methane to liquid fuels are costly, or inefficient and wasteful. To address this, Northwestern University will alter natural catalysts to create versatile new protein catalysts that convert methane to methanol which can more easily integrate into fuel production pathways. Northwestern will also engineer an additional protein catalysts to couple, or join, two molecules of methane together, a process critical towards producing longer chain "hydrocarbons" similar to those found in gasoline. Northwestern University's simplified catalysts will provide a better alternative to existing methane converting enzymes and can be incorporated into multiple types of processes.
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/26/2016 to 02/25/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The team led by RedWave Energy will develop a waste heat harvesting system, called a rectenna, that converts low-temperature waste heat into electricity. Rectennas are nanoantennas that convert radiant energy to direct current (DC) electricity. The rectennas are fabricated onto sheets of flexible material in tightly packed arrays and placed near key heat sources such as the turbine's condenser, heat exchanger, and flue gas cooling stack. Heat radiates onto the nanoantennas and energizes electrons on the antennas' surface. These electrons are rectified by the system, resulting in DC power. This technology will target the waste heat in industrial processes and thermoelectric power generation.

Program: 
Project Term: 
09/29/2017 to 12/28/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

Switched Source will develop a power-electronics based hardware solution to fortify electric distribution systems, with the goal of delivering cost-effective infrastructure retrofits to match rapid advancements in energy generation and consumption. The company's power flow controller will improve capabilities for routing electricity between neighboring distribution circuit feeders, so that grid operators can utilize the system as a more secure, reliable, and efficient networked platform. The topology the team is incorporating into its controller will eliminate the need for separate heavy and expensive transformers, as well as the costly construction of new distribution lines and substations in many cases. The power flow controller's low weight and small size means that it can be installed anywhere in the existing grid to optimize energy distribution and help reduce congestion. If successful, implementation of Switched Source's power flow controller will also significantly increase hosting capacity and connectivity for distributed renewable generation. During a prior ARPA-E GENI award, this team developed this platform technology. Now, as an addition to the ARPA-E CIRCUITS program, the team will further its research.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/17/2016 to 12/31/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
The Boeing Company is developing a next-generation air-cooled heat exchanger by leveraging technological advances in additive manufacturing (AM). The work builds on a previous ARPA-E IDEAS award to the University of Maryland that included the fabrication of geometrically complex heat exchanger coupons. Boeing subsequently demonstrated AM fabrication of thin-walled structures with a thickness of 125 to 150 microns, which represents a 50% reduction relative to then-state-of-the-art AM processes. The high temperature heat exchanger currently under development employs complex internal geometries to achieve an expected 20-30% improvement in thermal performance and up to 20% reduction in weight. Current manufacturing techniques include manual stacking of heat exchangers, brazing in a thermal vacuum chamber, and welding of external features. Each of these manufacturing steps is time consuming, expensive, and may damage the part. A validated AM process for heat exchangers could lead to fabrication cost savings well in excess of 25% by eliminating these steps. If successful, these high performance, lightweight heat exchangers would enable more energy-efficient aircraft. AM can also expand the design space for heat exchangers, enabling advanced designs that conform to challenging form factor requirements. Advances in efficient air-side cooling could also have significant spillover benefits in additional industries such as power plant and distributed energy systems, automotive, air-conditioning and refrigeration, power electronics, and chemical processing.
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
The Boeing Company 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.
University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/21/2017 to 12/20/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) will develop a new high-power converter circuit architecture for fast charging of electric vehicles (EV). Their wide-bandgap universal battery supercharger (UBS) is designed using a unique AC/DC converter system. Fast-switching silicon carbide (SiC) field-effect transistors (FETs) with integrated gate-drivers are used to achieve the targeted compactness. A novel hybrid-modulation method is used to switch the SiC-FETs to reduce the semiconductor power losses and improve the efficiency. The UBS uses integrated filters, which reduce the electromagnetic noise and system weight. The UBS circuit is reliable because it uses film capacitors instead of electrolytic capacitors that have reduced durability. The reduced weight and size of the UBS can enable both off-board stationary fast charging systems and as a portable add-on system for EV customers who require range enhancement and quick charging in 15 minutes. If successful, project developments will not only help accelerate the development of EV charging infrastructure, but the system will have bidirectional power flow capability enabling vehicle-to-grid dispatching.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/01/2016 to 09/30/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) team proposes to increase the water-use efficiency in sorghum production, enabling plants to produce the same yield with 40% less water. By analyzing mathematical models of crop physiology and biophysics, the UIUC team has identified multiple strategies to improve water-use efficiency. In one instance, the team will decrease water loss within plants by shifting photosynthetic activity from leaves at the top of crop canopy where it is drier to lower leaves that operate in higher humidity. To increase photosynthesis in lower leaves, the upper canopy leaves will need to be a lighter shade of green and more vertical to allow more light to penetrate the canopy. Additionally, the team will alter the density and activity of the pores, called stomata, on the leaves that regulate CO2 uptake and water loss for the plant. UIUC will utilize both biotechnology and advanced molecular breeding techniques to implement these strategies. These water-efficient sorghum technologies will open up more than 9.5 million acres of lower quality land in the Midwest for sorghum production without relying on irrigation. Additionally, it will increase yields across current arable, rain-fed land. These techniques could be applied to other agricultural crops, such as corn, sugarcane and Miscanthus. The development of this water-use efficiency biotechnology will advance the efficiency of biomass production, reducing dependence on foreign oil imports and decreasing CO2 emissions.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/20/2016 to 12/31/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), with partners from Cornell University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Arizona State University will develop a set of entirely synthetic electric transmission system models. Their 10 open-source system models and associated scenarios will match the complexity of the actual power grid. By utilizing statistics derived from real data, the team's models will have coordinates based on North American geography with network structure, characteristics, and consumer demand that mimics real grid profiles. Smaller models will be based on smaller areas, such as part of a U.S. state, while the large models will cover much of the continent. All models and their scenarios will be validated using security-constrained optimal power flows, with parameters tuned to emulate the statistical characteristics of actual transmission system models.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/05/2013 to 08/31/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is developing scalable grid modeling, monitoring, and analysis tools that would improve its resiliency to system failures as well as cyber attacks, which can significantly improve the reliability of grid operations. Power system operators today lack the ability to assess the grid's reliability with respect to potential cyber failures and attacks. UIUC is using theoretical and practical techniques from both the cyber security and power engineering domains to develop new algorithms and software tools capable of analyzing real-world threats against power grid critical infrastructures including cyber components (e.g. communication networks), physical components (e.g. power lines), and interdependencies between the two in its models and simulations. Continuing the project work started by UIUC, Avista Utilities is now developing technology to automatically extract and map electrical switch information to generate cyber-physical models. These cyber-physical models can be used to identify network vulnerabilities as well as identify and prioritize critical assets which will allow utilities and others to conduct simulations, perform analysis, and fortify networks against cyber-attacks.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2015 to 12/31/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) with partners, Cornell University and Signetron Inc., will develop a small semi-autonomous, ground-based vehicle called TERRA-MEPP (Mobile Energy-Crop Phenotyping Platform). The platform performs high-throughput field-based data collection for bioenergy crops, providing on-the-go measurements of the physical structure of individual plants. TERRA-MEPP will use visual, thermal, and multi-spectral sensors to collect data and create 3-D reconstructions of individual plants. Newly developed software will interpret the data and a model-based data synthesis system will enable breeders to select the most promising sorghum lines for bioenergy production much sooner than currently possible, dramatically increasing the rate of genetic advancements in biomass.

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

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

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/28/2018 to 12/28/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will develop a fuel processing system that enables load-following in molten salt reactors (MSRs), an important ability that allows nuclear power plants to ramp electricity production up or down to meet changing electricity demand. Nuclear reactions in MSRs produce unwanted byproducts (such as xenon and krypton) that can adversely affect power production. In steady, baseload operation, these byproducts form and decay at the same rate. When electricity production is ramped down, however, the byproducts start to be produced at a greater rate than they decay, leading to a buildup within the reactor. When power production must be once again increased, the response rate is slowed by the time needed for the byproducts to reach their equilibrium level (determined by the radioactive decay half-life, which is on the order of hours). Thus, buildup of these unwanted byproducts resulting from ramping down inhibit proper load following for molten salt reactors. Fortunately, MSRs transport fuel in a flowing molten salt fuel loop, which means that a section of the reactor, outside the core, can be leveraged for fuel processing and "cleanup." The team will determine the feasibility of removal of these unwanted byproducts and design a fuel reprocessing system, removing a major barrier to commercialization for molten salt reactors.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/03/2019 to 06/02/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/15/2012 to 03/31/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Illinois
Technical Categories: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is working to convert sugarcane and sorghum--already 2 of the most productive crops in the world--into dedicated bio-oil crop systems. Three components will be engineered to produce new crops that have a 50% higher yield, produce easily extractable oils, and have a wider growing range across the U.S. This will be achieved by modifying the crop canopy to better distribute sunlight and increase its cold tolerance. By directly producing oil in the shoots of these plants, these biofuels could be easily extracted with the conventional crushing techniques used today to extract sugar.