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ARPA-E Projects

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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/01/2016 to 03/31/2017
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The team led by Accio Energy will develop an ElectroHydroDynamic (EHD) system that harvests energy from the wind through physical separation of charge rather than through rotation of an electric machine. The EHD technology entrains a mist of positively charged water droplets into the wind, which pulls the charge away from the electrically-grounded tower, thereby directly converting wind energy into a mounting voltage. The resulting High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) can then be transferred across higher efficiency power lines without the need for a generator, a gearbox, or costly high power AC-DC conversion required by traditional wind energy systems. The simple design of the EHD wind system is highly modular, and can be built with low-cost, mass manufacturing approaches. EHD systems also have minimal moving parts, and can be "containerized" for easy transport and installation at offshore sites. In contrast to the current trend for larger (and relatively expensive) turbines with increased power-per-tower, the EHD approach would utilize low-cost hardware with simple transport and installation, and native HVDC operation to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind. EHD technology can also operate at lower wind velocities than traditional turbines, and can thus increase the capacity factor at locations with highly variable winds. If successful, this project will demonstrate EHD technology as an entirely new option for offshore wind that offers a different path to cost effective utilization of a large renewable resource.

Program: 
Project Term: 
02/01/2010 to 12/31/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Delphi Automotive Systems is developing power converters that are smaller and more energy efficient, reliable, and cost-effective than current power converters. Power converters rely on power transistors which act like a very precisely controlled on-off switch, controlling the electrical energy flowing through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon (Si) semiconductors. However, Delphi is using semiconductors made with a thin layer of gallium-nitride (GaN) applied on top of the more conventional Si material. The GaN layer increases the energy efficiency of the power transistor and also enables the transistor to operate at much higher temperatures, voltages, and power-density levels compared to its Si counterpart. Delphi is packaging these high-performance GaN semiconductors with advanced electrical connections and a cooling system that extracts waste heat from both sides of the device to further increase the device's efficiency and allow more electrical current to flow through it. When combined with other electronic components on a circuit board, Delphi's GaN power transistor package will help improve the overall performance and cost-effectiveness of HEVs and EVs.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2013 to 03/31/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

Ford Motor Company is developing a commercially viable battery tester with measurement precision that is significantly better than today's best battery testers. Improvements in the predictive ability of battery testers would enable significant reductions in the time and expense involved in electric vehicle technology validation. Unfortunately, the instrumental precision required to reliably predict performance of batteries after thousands of charge and discharge cycles does not exist in today's commercial systems. Ford's design would dramatically improve the precision of electric vehicle battery testing equipment, which would reduce the time and expense required in the research, development, and qualification testing of new automotive and stationary batteries.

Program: 
Project Term: 
09/17/2012 to 03/31/2015
Project Status: 
CANCELLED
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
ARPA-E and Ford Motor Company agreed to mutually conclude this project. Ford is developing an on-board adsorbed natural gas tank system with a high-surface-area framework material that would increase the energy density of compressed natural gas at low pressures. Traditional natural gas tanks attempt to compensate for low-energy-density and limited driving range by storing compressed gas at high pressures, requiring expensive pressure vessels. Ford and their project partners will optimize advanced porous material within a system to reduce the pressure of on-board tanks while delivering the customer expected driving range. This porous material allows more gas to be stored inside a tank by utilizing a surface energy attraction to the natural gas. These materials would be efficiently and cost-effectively integrated into a natural gas vehicle system that will promote and contribute to the widespread use of natural gas vehicles.
General Motors (GM)
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/30/2017 to 03/29/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

General Motors will lead a team to develop "InfoRich" vehicle technologies that will combine advances in vehicle dynamic and powertrain control technologies with recent vehicle connectivity and automation technologies. The result will be a light duty gasoline vehicle that demonstrates greater than 20% fuel consumption reduction over current production vehicles while meeting all safety and exhaust emissions standards. On-board sensors and connected data will provide the vehicle with additional information such as the status of a traffic signal before a vehicle reaches an intersection, as well as traffic, weather, and accident information. This preview information enables the vehicle (and the driver) not only to react to current road conditions but also to plan for expected future conditions more efficiently. A proposed supervisory vehicle dynamic and powertrain controller will incorporate all the information available through connectivity and on-board sensors into an upper-level optimizer that determines the most fuel-efficient and safest vehicle operation. The upper-level optimizer sends brake, steering, speed, and torque requests to the two lower-level controllers: the vehicle dynamics controller (i.e. steering, acceleration and braking) and powertrain (i.e. engine, transmission) controller. The lower-level controllers, in turn, optimize their individual requests and send out commands to control the vehicle and powertrain. Overall energy efficiency increases by forecasting stopping events as early as possible, smoothing and reducing heavy acceleration, harmonizing speed, and optimizing the vehicle when approaching hills. The project combines General Motors' advanced vehicle/powertrain controls with Carnegie Mellon University's expertise in autonomous vehicles. Extensive real-world driving data available from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Transportation Secure Data Center and on-road tests will be used to validate improvements in fuel efficiency and assess real-world impacts.

General Motors (GM)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 03/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

General Motors (GM) is using shape memory alloys that require as little as a 10°C temperature difference to convert low-grade waste heat into mechanical energy. When a stretched wire made of shape memory alloy is heated, it shrinks back to its pre-stretched length. When the wire cools back down, it becomes more pliable and can revert to its original stretched shape. This expansion and contraction can be used directly as mechanical energy output or used to drive an electric generator. Shape memory alloy heat engines have been around for decades, but the few devices that engineers have built were too complex, required fluid baths, and had insufficient cycle life for practical use. GM is working to create a prototype that is practical for commercial applications and capable of operating with either air- or fluid-based heat sources. GM's shape memory alloy based heat engine is also designed for use in a variety of non-vehicle applications. For example, it can be used to harvest non-vehicle heat sources, such as domestic and industrial waste heat and natural geothermal heat, and in HVAC systems and generators.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/05/2013 to 06/04/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
Grid Logic is developing a new type of electrical superconductor that could significantly improve the performance (in $/kA-m) and lower the cost of high-power energy generation, transmission, and distribution. Grid Logic is using a new manufacturing technique to coat very fine particles of superconducting material with an extremely thin layer--less than 1/1,000 the width of a human hair--of a low-cost metal composite. This new manufacturing process is not only much simpler and more cost effective than the process used to make today's state-of-the-art high-power superconductors, but also it makes superconductive cables easier to handle and improves their electrical properties in certain applications.
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/01/2015 to 06/30/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The Grid Logic team is adapting a form of vapor deposition technology to demonstrate a new approach to creating powerful hybrid magnets. This "physical vapor deposition particle encapsulation technology" utilizes an inert atmosphere chamber, which allows for precisely controlled and reproducible pressure, gas flow, and fluidization conditions for a powder vessel. The team will use this specialized chamber to fabricate nanostructured exchange-spring magnets, which require careful control of material dimension and composition. Nanostructured exchange-spring magnets are composite magnetic materials that use an exchange between soft magnetic materials, which have high saturation magnetization but are easily demagnetized, and hard magnetic materials that are difficult to demagnetize but have lower saturation magnetization and high coercivity. In this case, the team will create magnets consisting of Manganese Bismuth (MnBi) hard magnetic core particles with nanometer-scale Cobalt (Co) soft magnet shells. If successful, the team will demonstrate a process for producing: 1) A hard magnet core particle capable of withstanding a strong external magnetic field without becoming demagnetized; and 2) A soft magnet shell providing high magnetic saturation (i.e. maximum magnetization due to an external magnetic field). By combining precise control of nano-scale layering, material ratios, and material interfaces the project could develop a magnet that rivals permanent magnets made from rare earth elements. As an ARPA-E IDEAS project, this early stage research will provide proof of concept showing that the particle encapsulation system developed in this project can enable large-scale, cost-efficient production of composite magnets that do not require rare earth elements.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/06/2016 to 04/05/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
Inventev is developing a proof-of-concept for a commercially viable generator system that is integrated with a truck transmission. The project will involve the design and fabrication of transmission and power electronics subsystems, integration of those systems into a Ford F550 chassis-cab truck, and conversion of the standard gasoline engine to a low-pressure natural gas engine. The project aims to create a 120kW low-cost, low-emission mobile power generator using natural gas with a cost target of 6-to-7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Of particular significance is the ability to use the same devices (i.e. electric machine motor/generators) that electrically propel a vehicle to become generators for exporting 3-phase grid-quality power. If successful, this technology could be used to create fleets of trucks with inherent power generating capability that could be deployed to enable electrical grid resiliency from interruptions or used short-term for low-cost nimble and localized generating capacity.
Program: 
Project Term: 
11/01/2015 to 12/31/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
MAHLE Powertrain with partners at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Louthan Engineering, Kohler Company, and Intellichoice Energy will design and develop a CHP generator that uses an internal combustion engine with a turbulent jet ignition (TJI) combustion system. Similar to an automotive internal combustion engine, the proposed system follows the same process: the combustion of natural gas fuel creates a force that moves a piston, transferring chemical energy to mechanical energy used in conjunction with a generator to create electricity. The TJI combustion system incorporates a pre-chamber combustor, enabling the engine to operate in ultra-lean conditions (i.e. high air to fuel mixture), which results in significant improvement in engine thermal efficiency. The team will further increase the system's efficiency by using low friction engine components, while a low-temperature after-treatment system will reduce exhaust emissions.
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/23/2019 to 07/22/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
The Michigan State University team will develop a modular thermal energy storage system that uses electricity from sources like wind and solar power to heat up a bed of magnesium manganese oxide (Mg-Mn-O) particles to high temperatures. Once heated, the Mg-Mn-O will release oxygen and store the heat energy in the form of chemical energy. Later, when additional power is needed, the system will pass air over the particle bed, initiating a chemical reaction that releases heat to drive a gas turbine generator. The low cost of magnesium and manganese oxides will enable the system to be cost competitive.
Michigan State University (MSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/14/2010 to 09/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
Michigan State University (MSU) is developing a new engine for use in hybrid automobiles that could significantly reduce fuel waste and improve engine efficiency. In a traditional internal combustion engine, air and fuel are ignited, creating high-temperature and high-pressure gases that expand rapidly. This expansion of gases forces the engine's pistons to pump and powers the car. MSU's engine has no pistons. It uses the combustion of air and fuel to build up pressure within the engine, generating a shockwave that blasts hot gas exhaust into the blades of the engine's rotors causing them to turn, which generates electricity. MSU's redesigned engine would be the size of a cooking pot and contain fewer moving parts--reducing the weight of the engine by 30%. It would also enable a vehicle that could use 60% of its fuel for propulsion.
Michigan State University (MSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/08/2012 to 11/15/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
Michigan State University (MSU) is developing a power flow controller to improve the routing of electricity from renewable sources through existing power lines. The fast, innovative, and lightweight circuitry that MSU is incorporating into its controller will eliminate the need for a separate heavy and expensive transformer, as well as the construction of new transmission lines. MSU's controller is better suited to control power flows from distributed and intermittent wind and solar power systems than traditional transformer-based controllers are, so it will help to integrate more renewable energy into the grid. MSU's power flow controller can be installed anywhere in the existing grid to optimize energy transmission and help reduce transmission congestion.
Michigan State University (MSU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/19/2014 to 09/30/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

Michigan State University (MSU) will develop high-voltage diamond semiconductor devices for use in high-power electronics. Diamond is an excellent conductor of electricity when boron or phosphorus is added--or doped--into its crystal structures. It can also withstand much higher temperatures with higher performance levels than silicon, which is used in the majority of today's semiconductors. However, current techniques for growing doped diamond and depositing it on electronic devices are difficult and expensive. MSU is overcoming these challenges by using an innovative, low-cost, lattice-etching method on doped diamond surfaces, which will facilitate improved conductivity in diamond semiconductor devices.

Michigan Technological University (MTU)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/14/2017 to 02/13/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

Michigan Technological University (MTU), in partnership with General Motors (GM), will develop, validate, and demonstrate a fleet of connected electric vehicles and a mobile cloud-connected computing center. The project will integrate advanced controls with connected and automated vehicle functions and enable: eco-routing, efficient approach and departure from traffic signals and cooperative driving between multiple vehicles, including speed harmonization. Use of the new vehicle dynamic and powertrain controls will allow a 20% reduction in energy consumption and a 6% increase in all-electric driving range through the first-ever implementation and connection of route planning, powertrain energy management, and model-predictive control algorithms. The selected vehicle for the fleet, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt, contains a unique powertrain architecture with multiple operating modes, including all-electric (EV) and hybrid-electric (HEV) modes, allowing the team to optimize numerous powertrain components. This project will use eight Chevrolet Volts in order to demonstrate the idea of platooning in a future automated highway system. In a platoon, vehicles follow closely together at a constant speed, thus reducing drag and lowering energy consumption and emissions. The MTU Mobile Lab (ML) will serve as a control center, vehicle-to-cloud communication hub, and mobile charging station for the fleet of Volts. The ML, a specially designed 18-wheeler, can travel with the fleet and enables real-time traffic simulation and eco-routing. The MTU team includes expertise in powertrain engineering, vehicle controls, algorithm design, and traffic simulation, while the GM team includes experts in the control and engineering of advanced electric powertrains who, if the project is successful, can facilitate the integration of the new control technology into future GM vehicles.

Program: 
Project Term: 
06/03/2019 to 06/02/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Program: 
Project Term: 
09/01/2012 to 09/30/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

REL is developing a low-cost, conformable natural gas tank for light-duty vehicles that contains an internal structural cellular core. Traditional natural gas storage tanks are cylindrical and rigid. REL is exploring various materials that could be used to design a gas tank's internal structure that could allow the tank to be any shape. The REL team is exploring various methods of manufacturing the interconnected core structure and the tank skin to identify which combination best meets their target pressure-containment objectives. REL's conformable internal core would enable higher storage capacity than current carbon fiber-based tanks at 70% less cost. REL is developing small-scale prototypes that meet their durability, safety, and cost goals before scaling up to a full-sized prototype.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2015 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

Ricardo will develop a detailed cost model for 10 key automotive components (e.g. chassis, powertrain, controls, etc.), analyzing the investment barriers at production volumes. Prior studies of innovative manufacturing processes and lightweight materials have used differing cost analysis assumptions, which makes comparison of these individual studies difficult. The backbone of the project will be a detailed economic model built on a set of common assumptions that will allow the root cause of cost barriers to be identified. The model will then evaluate emerging alternative manufacturing techniques to determine how they might reduce or remove these barriers. This model will utilize a consistent set of assumptions, allowing for an accurate comparison of potential manufacturing techniques. If successful, this cost model will enable private-sector firms to make informed investment decisions, increasing the deployment of innovative vehicle technologies and saving the average consumer money.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2013 to 03/06/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
Robert Bosch is developing battery monitoring and control software to improve the capacity, safety, and charge rate of electric vehicle batteries. Conventional methods for preventing premature aging and failures in electric vehicle batteries involve expensive and heavy overdesign of the battery and tend to result in inefficient use of available battery capacity. Bosch would increase usable capacity and enhance charging rates by improving the ability to estimate battery health in real-time, to predict and manage the impact of charge and discharge cycles on battery health, and to minimize battery degradation.
The Mackinac Technology Company
Program: 
Project Term: 
04/01/2016 to 03/31/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The Mackinac Technology Company will develop an innovative, cost effective, retrofit window insulation system that will significantly reduce heat losses. The insulation system will use a durable window film that is highly transparent to visible light (more than 90% of light can pass through), but reflects thermal radiation back into the room and reduces heat loss in winter. The film will be microporous and breathable to allow air pressures to balance across the window system. The film will be bonded to a rigid frame that can be retrofitted to an existing single-pane glass window. Mackinac's pane assembly will maintain a wrinkle-free appearance over an anticipated 20-year product lifecycle. The system will be fire resistant and lightweight (less than two pounds per square foot of window pane), which will help reduce stress on existing window panes.

University of Michigan
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/23/2014 to 03/06/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 
The University of Michigan team will develop a biological approach to activate methane, the first step in creating a liquid fuel from natural gas. Current approaches to methane activation require the addition of oxygen and energy in the form of heat, which is inefficient and costly. The University of Michigan's multidisciplinary team will engineer a methane-generating microorganism that can activate methane without the need for these additional inputs. The University of Michigan will use computer models to understand the processes on a molecular level and predict the structure of new enzymes and chemical interactions. Once modeled and engineered, the University of Michigan's optimized organism and process would provide a way to produce butanol, a drop-in liquid fuel.
Program: 
Project Term: 
03/17/2017 to 03/16/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The University of Michigan will develop an integrated power and thermal management system for connected and automated vehicles (iPTM-CAV), with the goal of achieving a 20% improvement in energy consumption. This increase will arise from predicting the traffic environment with transportation analytics, optimizing vehicle speed and load profiles with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, coordinating power and thermal control systems with intelligent algorithms, and optimizing powertrain operation in real time. The additional information made available by V2X and new sensors provides a look-ahead preview of traffic conditions unavailable in vehicles without connectivity. This information can be used to enable intelligent decision-making at multiple levels in powertrain and vehicle control. Key to this project is the team's approach for managing vehicle heat loads and thermal management. Thermal loads have to be properly managed, as they affect multiple vehicle attributes including energy consumption, emissions, safety, passenger comfort, etc. Compared to power delivery, thermal loads cannot be served instantaneously - they take more time to respond to changes, making their prediction much more important. The team's proposed technology includes four solutions: managing and optimizing propulsive power and auxiliary thermal load, predictive thermal management of connected and automated vehicles, optimizing powertrain and exhaust aftertreatment systems by anticipating future conditions, and integrating powertrain and vehicle thermal management systems. The proposed strategies will be applicable for a range of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric, and all-electric powertrains.

Program: 
Project Term: 
06/12/2019 to 06/11/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
University of Michigan
Program: 
Project Term: 
05/27/2016 to 11/26/2018
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The University of Michigan, with partners from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, and Columbia University, will develop a transmission system data set with greater reliability, size, and scope compared to current models. The project combines existing power systems data with advanced obfuscation techniques to anonymize the data while still creating realistic models. In addition, the project delivers year-long test cases that capture grid network behavior over time, enabling the analysis of optimization algorithms over different time scales. These realistic datasets will be used to develop synthetic test cases to examine the scalability and robustness of optimization algorithms. The team is also developing a new format for capturing power system model data using JavaScript Object Notation and will provide open-source tools for data quality control and validation, format translation, synthetic test case generation, and obfuscation. Finally, the project aims at developing an infrastructure for ensuring replicable research and easing experimentation, using the concept of virtual machines to enable comparison of algorithms as hardware and software evolve over time.

Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2015 to 03/31/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The University of Michigan is investigating a new, hybrid thin-film PV production technology that combines two different semiconductor production techniques: electrodeposition (the deposition of a substance on an electrode by the action of electricity) and epitaxial crystal growth (the growth of crystals of one substance on the crystal face of another substance). If successful, the University of Michigan's new hybrid approach would produce highly efficient (above 20%) gallium arsenide thin film solar cells using only simple process equipment, non-flammable precursor ingredients, and relatively low production temperatures (below 350 °C). This would radically decrease the production cost per watt of solar capacity, making it substantially less expensive and more competitive with other energy sources.

University of Michigan
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/14/2016 to 12/31/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The University of Michigan team will develop a compact micro-hybrid configuration that pairs an Electrically Assisted Variable Speed (EAVS) supercharger with an exhaust expander Waste Energy Recovery (WER) system. Together, the EAVS and WER can nearly eliminate the slow air-path dynamics associated with turbocharge inertia and high exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The EAVS system compresses engine intake air to increase engine power and allows the engine to have valuable "breathing time." This breathing time allows for a coordinated intake boosting and exhaust vacuum, so that the combustion timing and fueling is always optimal. Meanwhile, the WER system will capture exhaust energy, store it in a low-voltage battery together with energy from regenerative braking and later reuse it to assist the engine under transient acceleration loads, helping to further increase fuel efficiency. The team's innovation could increase fuel economy in advanced vehicles by 20%.

University of Michigan
Program: 
Project Term: 
06/09/2016 to 07/14/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Michigan
Technical Categories: 

The team led by University of Michigan will develop a ceramic electrolyte based on a ceramic oxide that is durable, offers high conductivity (e.g., it moves Li ions easily), and can be used in cells with metallic Li electrodes. The team will develop a technique to fabricate flexible sheets of electrolyte using roll-to-roll manufacturing. The team will also develop thick, solid-composite cathodes and then will integrate them with the electrolyte and a Li anode. Finally, the team will demonstrate the production of numerous cells using the new materials and techniques, and will integrate the cells into a flexible battery stack that is compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques and exhibits high energy density (900 Wh/L). This project aims to overcome the major challenges at the interfaces of solid components, including poor Li conductivity. The resulting technology could improve energy density and enable an electric vehicle to travel farther on a single charge. The technology also provides a stronger barrier between Li-ion battery electrodes that is capable of withstanding Li-dendrite intrusion to prevent shorts, thereby reducing the chance of battery failure.