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Efficiency

Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A)

Sensor-Enhanced and Model-Validated Batteries for Energy Storage

Det Norske Veritas (DNV KEMA) is testing a new gas monitoring system developed by NexTech Materials to provide early warning signals that a battery is operating under stressful conditions and at risk of premature failure. As batteries degrade, they emit low level quantities of gas that can be measured over the course of a battery's life-time. DNV KEMA is working with NexTech to develop technology to accurately measure these gas emissions. By taking accurate stock of gas emissions within the battery pack, the monitoring method could help battery management systems predict when a battery is likely to fail. Advanced prediction models could work alongside more traditional models to optimize the performance of electrical energy storage systems going forward. In the final phase of the project, DNV KEMA will build a demonstration in a community energy storage system with Beckett Energy Systems.

Dioxide Materials, Inc.

Energy Efficient Electrochemical Conversion of Carbon Dioxide into Useful Products

Dioxide Materials is developing technology to produce carbon monoxide, or "synthesis gas" electrochemically from CO2 emitted by power plants. Synthesis gas can be used as a feedstock for the production of industrial chemicals and liquid fuels. The current state-of-the-art process for capturing and removing CO2 from the flue gas of power plants is expensive and energy intensive, and therefore faces significant hurdles towards widespread implementation. The technologies being developed by Dioxide Materials aim to convert CO2 into something useful in an economical and practical way. The technology has the potential to create an entirely new industry where waste CO2--rather than oil--is used to produce gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and industrial chemicals.

Drexel University

Resonant Solid State Breaker Based on Wireless Coupling in MVDC Systems

Drexel University is proposing a solid-state MV circuit breaker based on silicon carbide devices, a resonant topology, and capacitive wireless power transfer that aims to significantly improve breaker performance for the MVDC ecosystem. The project combines innovations in using an active resonant circuit to realize zero-current switching, wireless capacitive coupling between the conduction and breaker branches to avoid direct metal-to-metal contact for rapid response speed, and wireless powering to drive the MV switches for improved system reliability.

Duke University

An Autonomous Coded Aperture Mini Mass Spectrometer (autoCAMMS) based Methane Sensing System

Duke University, in conjunction with its partners, will build a coded aperture miniature mass spectrometer environmental sensor (CAMMS-ES) for use in a methane monitoring system. The team will also develop search, location, and characterization algorithms. Duke will apply its recent innovations in mass spectrometers to increase the throughput of the spectrometer, providing continuous sampling without diminishing its resolution by integrating spatially coded apertures and corresponding reconstruction algorithms. The coded aperture will also provide advanced specificity and sensitivity for methane detection and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with natural gas production. Duke's innovations could provide low-cost, advanced sensors to localize and characterize methane and VOC emissions, helping to accelerate detection and mitigation of methane and VOC emissions at natural gas sites.

Duke University

Detecting Human Presence Using Dynamic Metasurface Antennas

Duke University will develop a residential sensor system that uses a dynamic meta-surface radar antenna design to determine occupancy in residential buildings. Traditional line-of-sight movement sensors suffer from high error rates. To increase accuracy, the Duke team will develop a sensor that monitors electromagnetic waveforms that are scattered both directly and indirectly off a person, eliminating the need for a direct line-of-sight between the sensor and the person. The sensor hardware continuously generates distinct microwave patterns to probe all corners of the house. Once a person enters a room, their motion changes the scattering statistics of the environment, which is used to establish real-time room occupancy. These characteristics are then analyzed using machine-learning techniques to establish human presence. The radar antenna can quickly sample an area and this information can be used to distinguish humans with the sensitivity to detect even stationary human's micro movements such as breathing. Further, the system operates at microwave frequencies, ensuring minimal concern for human safety. The proposed sensor does not require an internet connection or communication links, ensuring minimal security and privacy concerns. If successful, the system promises detection of occupants and near-zero false negative rate without any complex user interactions.

Eaton Corporation

Predictive Battery Management for Commercial Hybrid Vehicles

Eaton is developing advanced battery and vehicle systems models that will enable fast, accurate estimation of battery health and remaining life. The batteries used in hybrid vehicles are highly complex and require advanced management systems to maximize their performance. Eaton's battery models will be coupled with hybrid powertrain control and power management systems of the vehicle enabling a broader, more comprehensive vehicle management system for better optimization of battery life and fuel economy. Their design would reduce the sticker price of commercial hybrid vehicles, making them cost-competitive with non-hybrid vehicles.

Eaton Corporation

SiC-Based Wireless Power Transformation for Data Centers & Medium Voltage Applications

Eaton will develop and validate a wireless-power-based computer server supply that enables distribution of medium voltage (AC or DC) throughout a datacenter and converts it to the 48V DC used by computer servers. Datacenters require multiple voltage conversions steps, reducing the efficiency of power distribution from the grid to the server. The converter will employ commercially available wide-bandgap power devices for both the medium-voltage transmitter circuit and the low-voltage receiver circuit, respectively. The heart of the medium voltage supply is the wireless power transfer transformer, which will eliminate the multiple conversion stages present at datacenter locations all while providing operators touch-safe isolation from the medium input voltage side. If successful, the technology can reduce U.S. datacenter energy consumption and operations costs. It will eliminate the need of some transformers and reduce copper use in conductors providing a significant cost and space savings when medium voltage distribution is used.

Eaton Corporation

Ultra-Efficient Intelligent MVDC Hybrid Circuit Breaker

Eaton will build an ultra-high efficiency, medium voltage direct current (MVDC), electro-mechanical/solid-state hybrid circuit breaker (HCB) that offers both low conduction losses and fast response times. The team will also develop a high-speed actuator/vacuum switch (HSVS) combined with a novel transient commutation current injector (TCCI). This switch will transfer power to a separate solid-state device, interrupting the current in the event of a fault. The design should allow for scaling in voltage and current, enabling a range of circuit breakers across the MV application space.

Eclipse Energy Systems, Inc.

Eclipse Shield

Eclipse Energy Systems will further develop its proprietary transparent electrical conductor material (EclipseTEC) for use in low-emissivity (low-e) window films. Transparent, low-emissivity coatings improve building energy efficiency by reducing heat loss through the windows. Over the course of the project, the team will transfer their present technology for depositing EclipseTEC films to scalable manufacturing processes while preserving the desirable optical and low-e properties. Eclipse will partner with one or more companies offering thermal insulation solutions and incorporate EclipseTEC into their panes and/or applied products. The unique combined system will offer significant energy savings over traditional single-pane windows.

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI)

Indirect Dry Cooling Using Recirculating Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and its partners will design, fabricate, and demonstrate an indirect dry-cooling system that features a rotating mesh heat exchanger with encapsulated phase-change materials (PCMs) such as paraffin, which can absorb and reject heat efficiently. The novel system can be used downstream from a water-cooled steam surface condenser to cool water to a temperature near ambient air temperature, eliminating the need for a cooling tower. The team's design capitalizes on the high latent heat of the solid-to-liquid transition in the PCMs to provide an extremely effective way to lower the temperature of hot water exiting the condenser. The encapsulated PCMs are embedded in polymer tubes that form a porous, mesh-like structure. These modules are then mounted on a rotating system that continuously circulates the encapsulated PCMs from the hot water - where they absorb heat - into a dry section where ambient air passes by the encapsulated PCMs, causing the PCMs to solidify and reject heat to the atmosphere. The multidisciplinary team includes leading industry and academic partners that will provide technical and market assistance, and help build and test a 50 kWth prototype to demonstrate the technology's commercial viability.

Empower Semiconductor, Inc

Resonant Voltage Regulator Architecture Eliminates 30-50% Energy Consumption of Digital ICs

Empower Semiconductor will develop a new architecture for regulating voltage in integrated circuits (IC) like computer microprocessors. Empower's design will enable faster & more accurate power delivery than today's power management hardware. As transistors continue to shrink, the number of transistors per chip has increased, resulting in increased computing power. Existing Voltage Regulator ICs (VRICs) have not kept pace and deliver excessive (and wasted) power to these advanced digital ICs. The team has proposed a new resonant voltage regulator architecture based on silicon technology that can power digital ICs with 5x improved voltage regulation and 1,000x faster transient response. The increased regulation serves to eliminate excess voltage, which translates to significant energy savings. The dramatic increase in transient response enables dynamic voltage scaling which allows the digital IC to reduce its voltage within a few cycles when its full operation & voltage is not needed, thereby further conserving energy. If successful, these improvements in speed and accuracy translate to up to 50% reduction in energy consumption for a digital IC, while enabling a much smaller form factor and lower costs.

Endeveo, Inc

Hotspot Enabled Accurate Determination of Common Area Occupancy Using Network Tools (HEADCOUNT)

Endeveo will develop an occupancy sensor system to accurately determine the presence of occupants in residential buildings and enable temperature setbacks to provide energy savings of 30% per year. Their technique uses standard Wi-Fi-equipped devices, such as routers, to monitor an environment using the wireless channel state information (CSI) collected by these devices and occupancy-centric machine learning algorithms to determine occupancy from changes in CSI. The developed algorithms will distinguish between humans and pets, sense presence even when occupants are stationary for extended periods of time, and possess the flexibility to adapt to activities of daily living such as furniture being moved or opening doors. While their sensor hardware components use so-called "Wi-Fi protocols" to wirelessly probe an environment, they do not require nor utilize any internet access, Wi-Fi or otherwise. If successful, the system could offer cost-effective occupancy sensing to homes with and without internet service or broadband access.

Energy Research Company

Development of an Integrated Minimill for the Aluminum Industry: From Scrap to Product in One Step

Energy Research Company (ERCo) is developing an automated Aluminum Integrated Minimill (AIM) that can produce finished components from mixed metal scrap. Unlike most current approaches, ERCo's AIM can distinguish and accurately sort multiple grades of aluminum scrap for recycling. ERCo's AIM reduces energy consumption in several ways. First, the technology would provide real-time feedback controls to improve the accuracy of the sorting process. The sorted scrap is then melted and cast. Further, ERCo's design replaces the inefficient dryers used in conventional processes with advanced, high-efficiency equipment. ERCo's AIM enables significantly more efficient and less expensive scrap sorting and aluminum recovery for casting.

Fairfield Crystal Technology, LLC

High-Quality, Low-Cost GaN Single Crystal Substrates for High-Power Devices

Fairfield Crystal Technology will develop a new technique to accelerate the growth of gallium nitride (GaN) single-crystal boules. A boule is a large crystal that is cut into wafers and polished to provide a surface, or substrate, suitable for fabricating a semiconductor device. Fairfield Crystal Technology's unique boule-growth technique will rapidly produce superior-quality GaN crystal boules--overcoming the quality and growth-rate barriers typically associated with conventional growth techniques, including the current state-of-the-art hydride vapor phase epitaxy technique, and helping to significantly reduce manufacturing costs.

Feasible, Inc.

Electrochemical-Acoustic Signal Interrogation Analysis of Batteries

Feasible will develop a non-invasive, low-cost, ultrasonic diagnostic system that links the electrochemical reactions taking place inside a battery with changes in how sound waves propagate through the battery. This Electrochemical Acoustic Signal Interrogation (EASI) analysis will bridge the gap in battery diagnostics between structural insights and electrical measurements, offering both speed and scalability. The physical processes of a battery that affect performance are nearly impossible to monitor with standard diagnostic methods. EASI can provide insights into the battery development, manufacturing, and management life cycle. This capability is enabled by acoustic analysis, which is a fundamentally new tool in its application to batteries, and will aid cell design and development, improve manufacturing quality and yield thereby decreasing cost, and decrease inefficiencies in battery utilization and system design. During a prior ARPA-E IDEAS award, Princeton University developed the proof of concept for this technology that linked the propagation of sound waves through a battery to the state of the material components within the battery. Now, as Feasible Inc., the team will further the development of their sensing techniques and build a database of acoustic signatures for different battery chemistries, form factors, and use conditions. If successful, this ultrasonic diagnostic system will lead to improved battery quality, safety, and performance of electric vehicle and grid energy storage systems via two avenues: (1) more thorough and efficient cell screening during production, and (2) physically relevant information to better inform battery management strategies.

Ford Motor Company

High-Precision Tester for Automotive and Stationary Batteries

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.

Gas Technology Institute

Dual Electrolyte Extraction Electro-Refinery for Light Metal Production

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

Reactor Engine

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.

Gayle Technologies, Inc.

State-of-Health by Ultrasonic Battery Monitoring with In-Service Testing (SUBMIT)

Gayle Technologies is developing a laser-guided, ultrasonic electric vehicle battery inspection system that would help gather precise diagnostic data on battery performance. The batteries used in hybrid vehicles are highly complex, requiring advanced management systems to maximize their performance. Gayle's laser-guided, ultrasonic system would allow for diagnosis of various aspects of the battery system, including inspection for defects during manufacturing and assembly, battery state-of-health, and flaws that develop from mechanical or chemical issues with the battery system during use. Because of its non-invasive nature, relatively low cost, and potential for yielding broad information content, this innovative technology could increase productivity in battery manufacturing and better monitor battery conditions during use or service.

General Electric

Low-Cost Heat Pump with Advanced Refrigerant/Absorbent Separation

General Electric (GE) Global Research will design, manufacture, and test an absorption heat pump that can be used for supplemental dry cooling at thermoelectric power plants. The team's project features a novel, absorbent-enabled regenerator that doubles the coefficient of performance of conventional absorption heat pumps. The new absorbents demonstrate greater hygroscopic potential, or the ability to prevent evaporation. To remove heat and cool condenser water, these absorbents take in water vapor (refrigerant) and release the water as liquid during desorption without vaporization or boiling. GE'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. GE estimates the system will cost half that of conventional absorption heat pumps.

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