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ARPA-E Projects

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Displaying 1 - 22 of 22
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/15/2016 to 12/31/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

Johns Hopkins University will study the adsorption compression phenomenon for ways to enhance the reaction rate for commercially relevant reactions. Adsorption is the adhesion of molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface, creating layers of the "adsorbate" on the surface of the host material. The Johns Hopkins team will explore the physical state where the forces acting parallel to the surface of adsorbate molecules can in certain conditions be far higher than forces associated with adsorption of additional molecules on the surface. This phenomenon is called adsorption compression. This compression is important because it leads to a strain in intramolecular bonds and can change the activation energy for many chemical reactions - which can alter reaction pathways, increase reactivity, or improve selectivity for desired products. The team plans to explore this phenomenon as a method to improve the efficiency of commercial catalytic systems.

Johns Hopkins University
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2015 to 03/31/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
Johns Hopkins University will develop and assess components of a self-powered system to convert methane (the main component in natural gas) into carbon fiber. Methane can be separated into carbon and hydrogen, or burned for energy. The team will develop processes to use methane both to power the system and serve as carbon feedstock in a four stage system. First, methane is decomposed into hydrogen and carbon, and combined into a carbon/metal aggregate. Second, the carbon/metal aggregate is melted, producing a liquid melt containing carbon dissolved within it. Third, the melt is solidified into a homogeneous ribbon. Fourth, carbon is extracted from the ribbon in the form of fiber or fiber precursor. Finally, the metal content of the ribbon is reclaimed and recycled back to the start of the process for further methane decomposition. The project will focus on resolving the materials science challenges of directing carbon crystal growth into fiber and/or fiber precursors (steps 3 and 4). The final goal is to produce fibers that have the strength and stiffness of traditionally produced carbon fiber while requiring a fraction of energy and cost to produce.
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/28/2019 to 06/27/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/02/2015 to 12/01/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

Maxion Technologies is partnering with Thorlabs Quantum Electronics (TQE), Praevium Research, and Rice University to develop a low cost, tunable, mid-infrared (mid-IR) laser source to be used in systems for detecting and measuring methane emissions. The new architecture is planned to reduce the cost of lasers capable of targeting methane optical absorption lines near 3.3 microns, enabling the development of affordable, high sensitivity sensors. The team will combine Praevium and TQE's state-of-the-art Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System tunable Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (MEMS-VCSEL) technology with an Interband Cascade Laser (ICL) active core developed by Maxion. The unique design offers advantages in manufacturing that are expected to yield a factor-of-40 reduction in the cost of the laser source, and the wide tunability will allow the same laser design to be shared across multiple applications. When integrated with a full methane detection system, this technology could enable significant reduction in the cost associated with identifying, quantifying, and locating methane leaks as compared to currently available technologies.

Program: 
Project Term: 
06/25/2018 to 12/24/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

N5 Sensors and its partners will develop and test a novel semiconductor-based CO2 sensor technology that can be placed on a single microchip. CO2 concentration data can help enable the use of variable speed ventilation fans in commercial buildings. CO2 sensing may also improve the comfort and productivity of people in commercial buildings, including academic spaces. N5 Sensor's solution will determine CO2 concentrations through absorption of CO2 when the concentrations are high in the environment, and desorption of CO2 when the concentrations are low. The team's project combines innovations in a number of areas: ultra-low power sensing architecture, semiconductor microfabrication, effective gas separation membranes, novel signal processing, and machine learning. If successful, the project can result in a 10x reduction in the price of CO2 sensors and the innovation will ultimately result in a low-cost, highly autonomous systems with "peel, stick and press button" type of installation and operation.

Plant Sensory Systems (PSS)
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/15/2013 to 06/14/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

Plant Sensory Systems (PSS) is developing an enhanced energy beet that will provide an improved fermentable feedstock. A gene that has been shown to increase biomass and soluble sugars in other crop species will be introduced into beets in order produce higher levels of non-food-grade sugars and use both nutrients and water more efficiently. These engineered beets will have a lower cost of production and increased yield of fermentable sugars to help diversify feedstocks for bioproduction of fuel molecules.

Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2014 to 03/31/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

Redox Power Systems is developing a fuel cell with a mid-temperature operating target of 400°C while maintaining high power density and enabling faster cycling. Current fuel cell systems are expensive and bulky, which limits their commercialization and widespread adoption for distributed generation and other applications. Such state-of-the-art systems consist of fuel cells that either use a mixture of ceramic oxide materials that require high temperatures (~800°C) for grid-scale applications or are polymer-based technology with prohibitive low temperature operation for vehicle technologies. By combining advanced materials that have traditionally been unstable alone, Redox will create a new two-layer electrolyte configuration incorporating nano-enabled electrodes and stable ceramic anodes. The use of these materials will increase system power density and will have a startup time of less than 10 minutes, making them more responsive to demand. Redox is also developing a new fuel processor system optimized to work with their low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells. This new material configuration also allows the operating temperature to be reduced when incorporated into commercially fabricated fuel cells. These advances will enable Redox to produce a lower cost distributed generation product, as well as to enter new markets such as embedded power for datacenters.

University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/25/2014 to 10/24/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The University of Maryland (UMD) will leverage recent advances in additive manufacturing to develop a next-generation air-cooled heat exchanger. The UMD team will assess the performance and cost of current state-of-the-art technology, including innovative manufacturing processes. The team will then utilize computer models to simulate a wide-range of novel heat exchanger designs that can radically enhance air-side heat transfer performance. The team will then physically build and test two 1 kilowatt (kW) prototype devices. If successful, these heat exchangers would enable new, highly-efficient dry cooling of steam condensers that could eliminate evaporative water losses from power plant cooling. Advances in efficient air-side cooling could also have significant spillover benefits in aerospace, automobile, air-conditioning and refrigeration, electronics cooling, and chemical processing.

University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/18/2014 to 01/31/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The University of Maryland (UMD) is using water-based magnesium and hydrogen chemistries to improve the energy density and reduce the cost of EV batteries. The lithium-ion batteries typically used in most EVs today require heavy components to protect the battery and ensure safety. Water-based batteries are an inherently safer alternative, but can be larger and heavier compared to lithium-ion batteries, making them inefficient for use in EVs. To address this, UMD's water-based battery will use a magnesium hydrogen chemistry that would double energy storage capacity, for a much lighter energy storage system. Furthermore, UMD's use of safe inexpensive materials could reduce the cost of battery management, improve reliability, and allow for operation across a wider range of temperatures.

University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
10/01/2010 to 03/06/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
The University of Maryland (UMD) is developing an energy-efficient cooling system that eliminates the need for synthetic refrigerants that harm the environment. More than 90% of the cooling and refrigeration systems in the U.S. today use vapor compression systems which rely on liquid to vapor phase transformation of synthetic refrigerants to absorb or release heat. Thermoelastic cooling systems, however, use a solid-state material--an elastic shape memory metal alloy--as a refrigerant and a solid to solid phase transformation to absorb or release heat. UMD is developing and testing shape memory alloys and a cooling device that alternately absorbs or creates heat in much the same way as a vapor compression system, but with significantly less energy and a smaller operational footprint.
University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/14/2016 to 04/13/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The University of Maryland (UMD) will develop a new type of current collector using a film that is composed of functionalized few-walled carbon nanotubes (FWNTs) and polymers. The team seeks to develop a thin, low-cost current collector that displays high conductivity, excellent mechanical strength, flexibility, and manufacturing scalability. Carbon nanotubes have high conductivity, but in their pure state lack the needed mechanical strength. The FWNT concept will "functionalize" or bolster the outer walls by integrating polymers to increase the mechanical strength. This will give the product the dual benefits of direct tube-on-tube contact for fast recharging and increased mechanical strength and stability from the polymers. Replacement of metal mesh by FWNT-polymer film will not only address current collector corrosion concerns, but will also offer increased energy density due to the substantially lighter weight of these carbon-based materials compared to traditional metallic current collectors.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/16/2017 to 01/15/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The University of Maryland (UMD) is developing ceramic materials and processing methods to enable high-power, solid-state, lithium-ion batteries for use in EVs. Conventional lithium-ion batteries used in most EVs contain liquids that necessitate the use of heavy, protective components. By contrast, UMD's technology uses no liquids and offers greater abuse tolerance and reducing weight. This reduced weight leads to improved EV efficiency for greater driving range. UMD's technology also has the potential to help reduce manufacturing costs using scalable, ceramic fabrication techniques that does not require dry rooms or vacuum equipment.

Program: 
Project Term: 
11/23/2015 to 08/30/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The National Transportation Center at the University of Maryland (UMD) and its partners will develop a technology capable of delivering personalized, real-time travel information to users and incentivizing travelers to adopt more energy-efficient travel plans. The project team will use data from UMD's existing regional integrated transportation information system (RITIS) as well as other available resources to design its system model. This system model will integrate information on individual traveler behavior to simulate the effects of traffic and individual traveler choices on energy use in the Washington/Baltimore metro area. For its control architecture, UMD researchers will apply behavioral research to predict travelers' responses and identify appropriate, personalized incentives to encourage drivers to alter routes, departure times, and driving styles, or to take mass transit or ride-sharing services. The control architecture will incentivize users with monetary and non-monetary rewards, including social influence strategies that leverage social media to generate competition or rewards among social network users.

University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/01/2018 to 08/31/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The University of Maryland (UMD) will develop an electrochemical compression technology for ammonia. Electrochemical (an alternative to mechanical) compression has rarely been considered for ammonia, and the UMD team seeks to develop a new method to raise the compression efficiency from its current rate of 65% to the long term goal of up to 90%. If successful, replacing mechanical ammonia compression processes with electrochemical ones could save up to 10% of electricity consumed by commercial buildings while eliminating related carbon emissions and saving up to $3.5 billion annually for the United States. Using UMD's method, ammonia is electrochemically compressed using a proton exchange membrane electrochemical cell with hydrogen as a carrier gas. Unlike mechanical compression, the team's electrochemical device has no moving parts or lubrication oil and does not produce any noise. The successful demonstration of electrochemical ammonia compression will stimulate more research on the transfer of not only ammonia but other fluids using similar approaches, as well as the exploration of ion exchange membranes for other types of electrochemical gas transfer. The technical goal of Maryland's research is the construction and evaluation of a 50 W electrochemical compression stack that can compress ammonia from 1 atm to 10 atm in a single step with an ammonia flow rate of 0.045 g/s and a compression efficiency of over 70%.

University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
09/01/2015 to 09/30/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
The University of Maryland (UMD) and its partners will utilize UMD's expertise in additive manufacturing (3D printing) and thermal engineering to develop novel, polymer-based, air-cooled heat exchangers for use in indirect dry-cooling systems. The innovation leverages UMD's proprietary, cross media heat exchanger concept in which a low-cost, high-conductivity medium, such as aluminum, is encapsulated as a fiber in a polymeric material to facilitate more effective heat dissipation. To realize the innovative heat exchanger design, the team will develop an advanced, multi-head, composite 3D printer. The heat exchanger modules will be arranged in uniform rows with large spacing between the rows, which optimizes heat transfer while allowing for easier cleaning and maintenance. In addition to the system's advanced cooling capacities, the heat exchangers will also be low-cost, low-weight, and resistant to corrosion. Ideally, UMD's technology will be used in conjunction with a direct contact steam condenser in order to provide power plant cooling with performance comparable to evaporative, or wet-cooling, systems. UMD estimates that additive manufacturing could enable transformational heat exchanger designs with high performance at low cost, including the potential for onsite manufacturing of the heat exchanger, which could save additional transportation and installation costs.
University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
09/01/2015 to 08/13/2018
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
The University of Maryland (UMD) and its partners will utilize a novel microemulsion absorbent, recently developed by UMD researchers, for use in an absorption cooling system that can provide supplemental dry cooling for power plants. These unique absorbents require much less heat to drive the process than conventional absorption materials. To remove heat and cool condenser water, microemulsion absorbents take in water vapor (refrigerant) and release the water as liquid during desorption without vaporization or boiling. UMD's technology will use waste heat from the power plant's flue gas to drive the cooling system, eliminating the need for an additional power source. The design will improve upon the efficiency of commercially available chillers by 300%, even though the cost and size of UMD's technology is smaller. The indirect, absorption cooling system will lower condenser water temperatures to below the ambient temperature, which will ensure the efficiency of power plant electricity production.
Program: 
Project Term: 
08/15/2019 to 08/14/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
The University of Maryland will design, manufacture, and test high-performance, compact heat exchangers for supercritical CO2 power cycles. Two innovative additive manufacturing processes will enable high performance. One facilitates up to 100 times higher deposition rate compared with regular laser powder additive manufacturing. The other enables crack-free additive manufacturing of an advanced nickel-based superalloy and has the potential to print features as fine as 20 micrometers. These developments could halve the fabrication cost and enable heat exchanger operations above 800°C (1472°F) and 80 bar (1160 psi). These systems could be applied to high-efficiency fossil energy, concentrating solar power, and small modular nuclear energy.
Program: 
Project Term: 
08/23/2019 to 08/22/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
The University of Maryland will further develop its "super wood" approach to replace steel in the automotive industry. Replacing cast iron and traditional steel components with lightweight materials, such as magnesium and aluminum alloys, and polymer composites can directly reduce a vehicle's body weight by up to 50%, and consequently its fuel consumption. But most of these materials either have a high cost or performance issues. Super wood is a composite of cellulose nanofibers, which are stronger than most metals and composites. The densified wood has a unique microstructure, in which the fully collapsed wood cell walls are tightly intertwined along their cross-section and densely packed along their length. Over three years, the project will improve super wood's properties to withstand pressure of 1 gigapascal (or 145,038 pounds per square inch), and meet the requirements of a low-cost automotive structural material. The super wood could reduce vehicle manufacturing costs by 10-20% and manufacturing energy by up to 80% on a component level and by about 28% on a vehicle level. The team will focus on proof-of-concept demonstrations of floor panels, seating, and roof panels, as well as super wood's potential extension into the construction industry.
University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/01/2015 to 09/30/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
Led by Dr. YuHuang Wang, the "Meta Cooling Textile (MCT)" project team at the University of Maryland (UMD) is developing a thermally responsive clothing fabric that extends the skin's thermoregulation ability to maintain comfort in hotter or cooler office settings. Commercial wearable localized thermal management systems are bulky, heavy, and costly. MCT marks a potentially disruptive departure from current technologies by providing clothing with active control over the primary channels for energy exchange between the body and the environment. In hotter surroundings, the fabric's pores open up to increase ventilation while changes in the microstructure of the fabric increase the amount of energy transmitted through the fabric from the wearer. In cooler conditions, these effects are reversed to increase the garment's ability to insulate the wearer. The added bidirectional regulation capacity will enable the wearer to expand their thermal comfort range and thus relax the temperature settings in building.
University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/15/2015 to 05/12/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 

The University of Maryland (UMD) will develop a robotic personal attendant providing improved comfort levels for individuals in inadequately heated/cooled environments. This mobile robotic platform will be fitted with a small, battery-powered, high-efficiency vapor compression heat pump and will be highly portable and able to follow an assigned person around during the course of the day, providing localized heating and/or cooling as needed while reducing the energy required to heat and cool buildings.

University of Maryland (UMD)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/13/2015 to 02/12/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
The University of Maryland (UMD) will develop a new method called "Melt Epitaxy of Carbon" for the production of lightweight, high-capacity carbon wires from carbon nanotubes. Metallic carbon nanotubes are lightweight, high-capacity conductors that exceed the current carrying capacity of metals like copper. The current density of carbon nanotubes is nearly 1,000 times greater than at the electromigration limit of copper. On a weight basis, carbon nanotubes have an additional 6-fold advantage over copper because of their reduced density. Carbon nanotubes can reduce the weight of wires as much as 90% in weight-critical applications such as aircraft. Epitaxy refers to the deposition of a crystalline overlayer on a crystalline substrate, and it is widely used to create materials for semiconductor fabrication. In this process, the team will use a similar method to produce the carbon conductors. Although carbon nanotubes can also be synthesized using chemical vapor deposition, this new method is predicted to deliver improved yield and greater control over the structure and electrical properties of the nanotubes. This method is also more scalable than other methods of nanotube creation and at reduced costs.
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/06/2013 to 06/05/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Maryland
Technical Categories: 
Vorbeck Materials is developing a low-cost, fast-charging storage battery for hybrid vehicles. The battery cells are based on lithium-sulfur (Li-S) chemistries, which have a greater energy density compared to today's Li-Ion batteries. Vorbeck's approach involves developing a Li-S battery with radically different design for both cathode and anode. The technology has the potential to capture more energy, increasing the efficiency of hybrid vehicles by up to 20% while reducing cost and greenhouse gas emissions.