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ARPA-E Projects

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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/02/2017 to 01/01/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 

3M will develop a new anion exchange membrane (AEM) technology with widespread applications in fuel cells, electrolyzers, and flow batteries. Unlike many proton exchange membrane (PEM) applications, the team's AEM will operate in an alkaline environment, which means lower-cost electrodes can be used. The team plans to engineer a membrane that simultaneously meets key goals for resistance, mechanical and chemical stability, and cost. They will do this by focusing on simple, hydroxide-stable polymers, such as polyethylene, and stable cations, such as tetraalkylammonium and imidazolium groups. Positively-charged cation side chains attached to the polymer backbone will facilitate passage of hydroxide ions through the electrolyte, resulting in enhanced ionic conductivity. The proposed polymer chemistry is envisioned to be low cost and can be used in alkaline environments, and can be processed into mechanically robust membrane composites. This membrane technology has the potential to enable high volume, low-cost production of AEMs. The impact of this project can be transformational as the commercial availability of high-quality AEMs has been a limiting factor in developing AEM-based devices.

Alliant Techsystems (ATK)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/01/2010 to 06/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 

Researchers at Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and ACENT Laboratories are developing a device that relies on aerospace wind-tunnel technologies to turn CO2 into a condensed solid for collection and capture. ATK's design incorporates a special nozzle that converges and diverges to expand flue gas, thereby cooling it off and turning the CO2 into solid particles which are removed from the system by a cyclonic separator. This technology is mechanically simple, contains no moving parts and generates no chemical waste, making it inexpensive to construct and operate, readily scalable, and easily integrated into existing facilities. The increase in the cost to coal-fired power plants associated with introduction of this system would be 50% less than current technologies.

Program: 
Project Term: 
07/01/2019 to 06/30/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Minnesota
University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
02/15/2017 to 02/14/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 

The University of Minnesota (UMN) will lead a team to develop technology to improve the fuel efficiency of delivery vehicles through real-time vehicle dynamic and powertrain control optimization using two-way vehicle-to-cloud (V2C) connectivity. The effort will lead to greater than 20% fuel economy improvement of a baseline 2016 E-GEN series hybrid delivery vehicle operating as part of the United Parcel Service (UPS) fleet. Large delivery vehicle fleet operators such as UPS currently use analytics to assign routes in such a way to minimize fuel consumption. Algorithms mine historical data collected from vehicles to determine routes before a driver leaves a distribution center. UPS has also invested in E-GEN series electric-powertrain vehicles that allow pure electric driving for extended periods of time and use a small range-extending gasoline engine-generator to charge the battery, allowing routes longer than 550 miles. However, the current UPS routing algorithms do not interact with the vehicle directly to improve the fuel economy in real-time. The UMN project will integrate the E-GEN vehicles with real-time powertrain optimization and two-way V2C connectivity. The vehicle's powertrain controller will be pre-programmed at the beginning of a route to optimize efficiency using historical data and known parameters like terrain, weather, and traffic. Powertrain calibration will be optimized and downloaded to the vehicle using V2C connectivity in real-time during a delivery route, compensating for parameter changes or unpredicted driver behavior. The team's technology may also be commercialized far quicker because UPS, in particular, already uses E-GEN vehicles. Large delivery fleet operators, more broadly, are also heavily invested in data collection for reducing fuel consumption and actively track their vehicles, both factors that could potentially accelerate deployment.

University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/10/2017 to 01/09/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 

The University of Minnesota (UMN) will develop a small-scale ammonia synthesis system using water and air, powered by wind energy. Instead of developing a new catalyst, this team is looking to increase process efficiency by absorbing ammonia at modest pressures as soon as it is formed. The reactor partially converts a feed of nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia, after which the gases leaving the reactor go into a separator, where the ammonia is removed and the unreacted hydrogen and nitrogen are recycled. The ammonia is removed completely by selective absorption, which allows the synthesis to operate at lower pressure. This reduced pressure makes the system suitable for small-scale applications and more compatible with intermittent energy sources. The success of preliminary experiments suggests that this new approach may be fruitful in reducing capital and operating costs of ammonia production.

Program: 
Project Term: 
03/22/2013 to 09/21/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 
The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing an ultra-thin separation membrane to decrease the cost of producing biofuels, plastics, and other industrial materials. Nearly 6% of total U.S. energy consumption comes from the energy used in separation and purification processes. Today's separation methods used in biofuels production are not only energy intensive, but also very expensive. UMN is developing a revolutionary membrane technology based on a recently discovered class of ultra-thin, porous, materials that will enable energy efficient separations necessary to prepare biofuels that would also be useful in the chemical, petrochemical, water purification, and fossil fuel industries. These membranes, made from nanometer-thick layers of silicon dioxide, are highly selective in separating nearly-identical chemicals and can handle high flow rates of the chemicals. When fully developed, these membranes could substantially reduce the amount and cost of energy required in the production of biofuels and many other widely used industrial chemicals.
University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2010 to 08/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 
The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing clean-burning, liquid hydrocarbon fuels from bacteria. UMN is finding ways to continuously harvest hydrocarbons from a type of bacteria called Shewanella by using a photosynthetic organism to constantly feed Shewanella the sugar it needs for energy and hydrocarbon production. The two organisms live and work together as a system. Using Shewanella to produce hydrocarbon fuels offers several advantages over traditional biofuel production methods. First, it eliminates many of the time-consuming and costly steps involved in growing plants and harvesting biomass. Second, hydrocarbon biofuels resemble current petroleum-based fuels and would therefore require few changes to the existing fuel refining and distribution infrastructure in the U.S.
University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
01/01/2012 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 
The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing an early stage prototype of an iron-nitride permanent magnet material for EVs and renewable power generators. This new material, comprised entirely of low-cost and abundant resources, has the potential to demonstrate the highest energy potential of any magnet to date. This project will provide the basis for an entirely new class of rare-earth-free magnets capable of generating power without costly and scarce rare earth materials. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate a prototype with magnetic properties exceeding state-of-the-art commercial magnets.
University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
12/19/2011 to 06/18/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 
The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing a solar thermochemical reactor that will efficiently produce fuel from sunlight, using solar energy to produce heat to break chemical bonds. UMN envisions producing the fuel by using partial redox cycles and ceria-based reactive materials. The team will achieve unprecedented solar-to-fuel conversion efficiencies of more than 10% (where current state-of-the-art efficiency is 1%) by combined efforts and innovations in material development, and reactor design with effective heat recovery mechanisms and demonstration. This new technology will allow for the effective use of vast domestic solar resources to produce precursors to synthetic fuels that could replace gasoline.
University of Minnesota (UMN)
Program: 
Project Term: 
07/15/2016 to 09/30/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Project State: 
Minnesota
Technical Categories: 
The University of Minnesota (UMN) will develop a comprehensive approach that addresses the challenges to system reliability and power quality presented by widespread renewable power generation. By developing techniques for both centralized cloud-based and distributed peer-to-peer networks, the proposed system will enable coordinated response of many local units to adjust consumption and generation of energy, satisfy physical constraints, and provide ancillary services requested by a grid operator. The project will apply concepts from nonlinear and robust control theory to design self-organizing power systems that effectively respond to the grid events and variability. A key feature enabled by the proposed methodology is a flexible plug-and-play architecture wherein devices and small power networks can easily engage or disengage from other power networks or the grid. The project's design approach will be tested across many different scenarios while using more than 100 actual physical devices such as photovoltaics, battery storage inverters, and home appliances.