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Building Efficiency

Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology

In today's increasingly electrified world, power conversion--the process of converting electricity between different currents, voltage levels, and frequencies--forms a vital link between the electronic devices we use every day and the sources of power required to run them. The projects that make up ARPA-E's ADEPT program, short for "Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology," are paving the way for more energy efficient power conversion and advancing the basic building blocks of power conversion: circuits, transistors, inductors, transformers, and capacitors.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Advanced Research In Dry cooling

ARPA-E's Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) program comprises projects that are aimed at maintaining the efficiency of U.S. electric power generation, which otherwise could suffer due to regional water shortages. To achieve this objective, ARID project teams will create novel air-cooled heat exchangers, supplemental cooling systems, and/or cool-storage systems that can cost-effectively and efficiently dissipate, or reject, waste heat with no net water consumption. Project teams will design kilowatt-scale testing prototypes to ensure the technologies can scale up to the megawatt-cooling capacities of real systems without significant performance loss. If successful, these dry-cooling technologies will significantly reduce water use at power plants without sacrificing efficiency and with minimal additional costs.
  For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Building Energy Efficiency Through Innovative Thermodevices

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's BEETIT program, short for "Building Energy Efficiency Through Innovative Thermodevices," are developing new approaches and technologies for building cooling equipment and air conditioners. These projects aim to drastically improve building energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2) at a cost comparable to current technologies.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors

Development of advanced power electronics with unprecedented functionality, efficiency, reliability, and reduced form factor will provide the United States a critical technological advantage in an increasingly electrified world economy. The projects that comprise ARPA E's CIRCUITS (Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors) program seek to accelerate the development and deployment of a new class of efficient, lightweight, and reliable power converters, based on wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. CIRCUITS projects will establish the building blocks of this class of power converter by advancing higher efficiency designs that exhibit enhanced reliability and superior total cost of ownership. In addition, a reduced form factor (size and weight) will drive adoption of higher performance and more efficient power converters relative to today's state-of-the-art systems. Past ARPA-E programs have focused on challenges associated with fabricating WBG high-performance switching devices. Program developments led to a new generation of devices that operate at much higher powers, voltages, frequencies, and temperatures than traditional silicon-based semiconductor devices. CIRCUITS projects will build on these earlier ARPA-E programs by designing circuit topologies optimally suited for WBG attributes to maximize overall electrical system performance. Innovations stemming from CIRCUITS projects have the potential to affect high-impact applications wherever electrical power is generated or used, including the electric grid, industrial motor controllers, automotive electrification, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, solar and wind power systems, datacenters, aerospace control surfaces, wireless power transfer, and consumer electronics.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities

The projects in ARPA-E's DELTA Program, short for "Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities," aim to reduce the costs for heating and cooling buildings by developing Localized Thermal Management Systems (LTMS). LTMS modify the physical space around the human body rather than the entire building, with significant energy savings for both new and old buildings. Such technologies range from on-body wearable devices to off-body installed systems and provide more options for maintaining occupant comfort within buildings. ARPA-E's DELTA projects include a broad range of LTMS approaches that potentially enable energy savings of upwards of 2% of the total domestic energy supply and similar reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science

The IDEAS program - short for Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science - provides a continuing opportunity for the rapid support of early-stage applied research to explore pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology. IDEAS awards, which are restricted to maximums of one year in duration and $500,000 in funding, are intended to be flexible and may take the form of analyses or exploratory research that provides the agency with information useful for the subsequent development of focused technology programs. IDEAS awards may also support proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the agency or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology program. This program identifies potentially disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies that challenge the status quo and represent a leap beyond today's technology. That said, an innovative concept alone is not enough. IDEAS projects must also represent a fundamentally new paradigm in energy technology and have the potential to significantly impact ARPA-E's mission areas.

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2009, ARPA-E issued an open call for the most revolutionary energy technologies to form the agency's inaugural program. The first open solicitation was open to ideas from all energy areas and focused on funding projects already equipped with strong research and development plans for their potentially high-impact technologies. The projects chosen received a level of financial support that could accelerate technical progress and catalyze additional investment from the private sector. After only 2 months, ARPA-E's investment in these projects catalyzed an additional $33 million in investments. In response to ARPA-E's first open solicitation, more than 3,700 concept papers flooded into the new agency, which were thoroughly reviewed by a team of 500 scientists and engineers in just 6 months. In the end, 36 projects were selected as ARPA-E's first award recipients, receiving $176 million in federal funding.
 For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2012, ARPA-E issued its second open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 4,000 concept papers for OPEN 2012, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 66 projects for its OPEN 2012 program, awarding them a total of $130 million in federal funding. OPEN 2012 projects cut across 11 technology areas: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, stationary power generation, water, as well as stationary, thermal, and transportation energy storage.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2015, ARPA-E issued its third open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 2,000 concept papers for OPEN 2015, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 41 projects for its OPEN 2015 program, awarding them a total of $125 million in federal funding. OPEN 2015 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, industrial processes and waste heat, data management and communication, wind, solar, tidal and distributed generation, grid scale storage, power electronics, power grid system performance, vehicle efficiency, storage for electric vehicles, and alternative fuels and bio-energy.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2018, ARPA-E issued its fourth open funding opportunity, designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received thousands of concept papers for OPEN 2018, which hundreds of scientists and engineers reviewed over the course of several months. ARPA-E selected 45 projects for its OPEN 2018 program, awarding them $112 million in federal funding. OPEN 2018 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, distributed generation, electrical efficiency, grid, grid storage, manufacturing efficiency, resource efficiency, transportation fuels, transportation energy conversion, and transportation vehicles.

Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition

The projects of ARPA-E's SENSOR (Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition) program will develop user-transparent sensor systems that accurately quantify human presence to dramatically reduce energy use in commercial and residential buildings. SENSOR projects will focus on one or more of four areas: 1) human occupancy sensors for residential use, 2) occupant-counting sensors for commercial buildings, 3) CO2 sensors to enable the use of variable building ventilation based on data from occupant-counting sensors, and 4) real-world testing and energy savings validation of these technologies. Projects in the SENSOR program seek to reduce energy used by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems by 30% in both residential and commercial buildings, potentially producing savings of 2-4 quadrillion BTU (quads) across the U.S. power system. SENSOR projects will develop sensing technologies that minimize or eliminate the need for human intervention while pursuing aggressive cost, performance, privacy, and usability requirements in order to gain the acceptance and penetration levels needed to achieve this 30% reduction in HVAC energy consumption.

Single-Pane Highly Insulating Efficient Lucid Designs

The SHIELD Program, short for "Single-Pane Highly Insulating Efficient Lucid Designs," aims to develop innovative materials that will improve the energy efficiency of existing single-pane windows in commercial and residential buildings. Technologies created through the SHIELD program seek to cut in half the amount of heat lost through single-pane windows in cold weather. These materials would improve insulation, reduce cold weather condensation, and enhance occupant comfort. The technologies could also produce secondary benefits, such as improved soundproofing, that will make retrofits more desirable to building occupants and owners. The program will focus on three technical categories: products that can be applied onto existing windowpanes; manufactured windowpanes that can be installed into the existing window sash that holds the windowpane in place; and other early-stage, highly innovative technologies that can enable products in the first two technical categories.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here. 

ADMA Products, Inc.

High-Efficiency, On-Line Membrane Air Dehumidifier Enabling Sensible Cooling for Warm and Humid Climates

ADMA Products is developing a foil-like membrane for air conditioners that efficiently removes moisture from humid air. ADMA Products' metal foil-like membrane consists of a paper-thin, porous metal sheet coated with a layer of water-loving molecules. This new membrane allows water vapor to permeate across the membrane at high fluxes, at the same time blocking air penetration and resulting in high selectivity. The high selectivity of the membrane translates to less energy use, while the high permeation fluxes result in a more compact device. The new materials and the flat foil-like nature of the membrane facilitate the mass production of a low-cost compact dehumidification device. ADMA received a separate award of up to $466,176 from the Department of the Navy to help decrease military fuel use.

American Superconductor

Stirling Air Conditioner for Compact Cooling

American Superconductor (AMSC) is developing a freezer that does not rely on harmful refrigerants and is more energy efficient than conventional systems. Many freezers are based on vapor compression, in which a liquid refrigerant circulates within the freezer, absorbs heat, and then pumps it out into the external environment. Unfortunately, these systems can be expensive and inefficient. ITC's freezer uses helium gas as its refrigerant, representing a safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly approach to cooling. ITC's improvements to the Stirling cycle system could enable the cost-effective mass production of high-efficiency freezers without the use of polluting refrigerants. ITC received a separate award of up to $1,766,702 from the Department of the Navy to help decrease military fuel use.

Architectural Applications

Innovative Building-Integrated Enthalpy Recovery

Architectural Applications (A2) is developing a building moisture and heat exchange technology that leverages a new material and design to create healthy buildings with lower energy use. Commercial building owners/operators are demanding buildings with greater energy efficiency and healthier indoor environments. A2 is developing a membrane-based heat and moisture exchanger that controls humidity by transferring the water vapor in the incoming fresh air to the drier air leaving the building. Unlike conventional systems, A2 locates the heat and moisture exchanger within the depths of the building's wall to slow down the air flow and increase the surface area that captures humidity, but with less fan power. The system's integration into the wall reduces the size and demand on the air conditioning equipment and increases liable floor area flexibility.

Argonne National Laboratory

Self-Assembled Nanocellular Composites with Super Thermal Insulation and Soundproof for Single-Pane Windows

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.

Arizona State University

Single-Pane Windows with Insulating Sprayed Particulate Coatings

Arizona State University (ASU) and its partners will develop new windowpanes for single-pane windows to minimize heat losses and improve soundproofing without sacrificing durability or transparency. The team from ASU will produce a thermal barrier composed of silicon dioxide nanoparticles deposited on glass by supersonic aerosol spraying. The layer will minimize heat losses and be transparent at a substantially lower cost than can be done presently with silica aerogels, for example. A second layer deposited using the same method will reflect thermal radiation. The windowpanes will also incorporate layers of dense polymers to control condensation and adhesion, while improving strength. The coating is designed to last more than 20 years and be resistant to damage from scratching, peeling, or freezing of water vapor within the pores of the silica layer.

Aspen Aerogels, Inc.

Aerogel Insulated Pane as a Replacement for Panes in Single Pane Windows

Aspen Aerogels and its partners will develop a cost-effective, silica aerogel-insulated windowpane to retrofit single-pane windows. Silica aerogels are well-known, highly porous materials that are strongly insulating, resisting the flow of heat. The team will advance their silica aerogels to have a combination of high visible light transmittance, low haze, and low thermal conductivity. The team's design consists of an aerogel sheet sandwiched between two glass panes to make a double glazed pane. This silica aerogel-insulated pane will be manufactured using an innovative supercritical drying method to significantly reduce the aerogel drying time, thereby increasing productivity and reducing cost. Aspen Aerogels' windowpane could be used to replace single panes in windows where thickness or weight preclude replacement with common double-pane units and at substantially lower cost.

Astronautics Corporation of America

An Efficient, Green Compact Cooling System Using Magnetic Refrigeration

Astronautics Corporation of America is developing an air conditioning system that relies on magnetic fields. Typical air conditioners use vapor compression to cool air. Vapor compression uses a liquid refrigerant to circulate within the air conditioner, absorb the heat, and pump the heat out into the external environment. Astronautics' design uses a novel property of certain materials, called "magnetocaloric materials", to achieve the same result as liquid refrigerants. These magnetocaloric materials essentially heat up when placed within a magnetic field and cool down when removed, effectively pumping heat out from a cooler to warmer environment. In addition, magnetic refrigeration uses no ozone-depleting gases and is safer to use than conventional air conditioners, which are prone to leaks.


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