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Efficiency

Bridger Photonics, Inc

Mobile LiDAR Sensor for Rapid and Sensitive Methane Leak Detection Applications

Bridger Photonics plans to build a mobile methane sensing system capable of surveying a 10 meter by 10 meter well platform in just over five minutes with precision that exceeds existing technologies used for large-scale monitoring. Bridger's complete light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing system will use a novel, near-infrared fiber laser amplifier in a system mounted on a ground vehicle or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which can be programmed to survey multiple wellpads a day. Data captured by the LiDAR system will provide 3-D topographic and methane absorption imagery using integrated inertial navigation and global positioning system data to show precisely where a methane leak may be occurring and at what rate. This approach will also be used to identify objects on the wellsite to better inform the search optimization. Bridger's goal is for its devices to be able to service up to 85 sites, and thus cost $1,400 to $2,220 a year to operate per wellsite. By advancing an affordable methane detection system that can both pinpoint and assess leakage quickly, Bridger's system could help companies repair methane leaks and catalyze an overall reduction in methane emissions from natural gas development.

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Superconducting Wires for Direct-Drive Wind Generators

Brookhaven National Laboratory is developing a low-cost superconducting wire that could be used in high-power wind generators. Superconducting wire currently transports 600 times more electric current than a similarly sized copper wire, but is significantly more expensive. Brookhaven National Laboratory will develop a high-performance superconducting wire that can handle significantly more electrical current, and will demonstrate an advanced manufacturing process that has the potential to yield a several-fold reduction in wire costs while using a using negligible amount of rare earth material. This design has the potential to make a wind turbine generator lighter, more powerful, and more efficient, particularly for offshore applications.

Case Western Reserve University

Transformation Enabled Nitride Magnets Absent Rare Earths (TEN Mare)

Case Western Reserve University is developing a highly magnetic iron-nitride alloy to use in the magnets that power electric motors found in EVs and renewable power generators. This would reduce the overall price of the motor by eliminating the expensive imported rare earth minerals typically found in today's best commercial magnets. The iron-nitride powder is sourced from abundant and inexpensive materials found in the U.S. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new magnet system, which contains no rare earths, in a prototype electric motor. This could significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. each year by encouraging the use of clean alternatives to oil and coal.

Case Western Reserve University

Novel Titanium Electrowinning Process Using Specialized Segmented Diaphragms

Case Western Reserve University is developing a specialized electrochemical cell that produces titanium from titanium salts using a series of layered membranes. Conventional titanium production is expensive and inefficient due to the high temperatures and multiple process steps required. The Case Western concept is to reduce the energy required for titanium metal production using an electrochemical reactor with multiple, thin membranes. The multi-membrane concept would limit side reactions and use one third of the energy required by today's production methods.

Case Western Reserve University

High-Power Titanate Capacitors for Power Electronics

There is a constant demand for better performing, more compact, lighter-weight, and lower-cost electronic devices. Unfortunately, the materials traditionally used to make components for electronic devices have reached their limits. Case Western Reserve University is developing capacitors made of new materials that could be used to produce the next generation of compact and efficient high-powered consumer electronics and electronic vehicles. A capacitor is an important component of an electronic device. It stores an electric charge and then discharges it into an electrical circuit in the device. Case Western is creating its capacitors from titanium, an abundant material extracted from ore which can be found in the U.S. Case Western's capacitors store electric charges on the surfaces of films, which are grown on a titanium alloy electrode that is formed as a spinal column with attached branches. The new material and spine design make the capacitor smaller and lighter than traditional capacitors, and they enable the component to store 300% more energy than capacitors of the same weight made of tantalum, the current industry standard. Case Western's titanium-alloy capacitors also spontaneously self-repair, which prolongs their life.

Case Western Reserve University

Data Analytics for Virtual Energy Audits and Value Capture Assessments of Buildings

Case Western Reserve University will develop a data analytics approach to building-efficiency diagnosis and prognostics. Their tool, called EDIFES (Energy Diagnostics Investigator for Efficiency Savings), will not require complex or expensive computational simulation, physical audits, or building automation systems. Instead, the tool will map a building's energy signature through a rigorous analysis of multiple datastreams. Combining knowledge of specific climatic, weather, solar insolation, and utility meter data through data assembly, the team will analyze these time-series datastreams to reveal patterns and relationships that were previously ignored or neglected. EDIFES will provide a virtual energy audit combined with a predictive energy usage calculator for efficiency solutions without setting foot in a building. The team's goal is to design EDIFES in such a way that beyond time-series, whole building utility data, only minimal information will be required from the building owner for accurate virtual energy audits that identify efficiency problems and solutions and provide continuous efficiency monitoring. EDIFES will be a resource for equipment providers and contractors to illustrate replacement equipment value, a mechanism for utilities to measure the impact of energy efficiency programs, and a tool for financiers to evaluate the potential risk and opportunity of efficiency investments. EDIFES will target the light commercial building space where minimal tools are available and a high potential for savings exists.

Ceramatec, Inc.

Natural Gas to Chemicals via Reactive Separation

Ceramatec is developing a small-scale reactor to convert natural gas into benzene--a feedstock for industrial chemicals or liquid fuels. Natural gas as a byproduct is highly abundant, readily available, and inexpensive. Ceramatec's reactor will use a one-step chemical conversion process to convert natural gas into benzene. This one-step process is highly efficient and prevents the build-up of solid residue that can occur when gas is processed. The benzene that is produced can be used as a starting material for nylons, polycarbonates, polystyrene, epoxy resins, and as a component of gasoline.

Codexis, Inc.

Low-Cost Biological Catalyst to Enable Efficient Carbon Dioxide Capture

Codexis is developing new and efficient forms of enzymes known as carbonic anhydrases to absorb CO2 more rapidly and under challenging conditions found in the gas exhaust of coal-fired power plants. Carbonic anhydrases are common and are among the fastest enzymes, but they are not robust enough to withstand the harsh environment found in the power plant exhaust steams. In this project, Codexis will be using proprietary technology to improve the enzymes' ability to withstand high temperatures and large swings in chemical composition. The project aims to develop a carbon-capture process that uses less energy and less equipment than existing approaches. This would reduce the cost of retrofitting today's coal-fired power plants.

Colorado School of Mines

High-Throughput Discovery of Thermoelectric Materials

The Colorado School of Mines will develop a new method for the high-throughput discovery and screening of thermoelectric materials. The objective is to develop a new class of thermoelectric materials that can enable heat-to-electricity efficiencies greater than 20%. Aerosol spray deposition will be used to collect particles on the solid surfaces, allowing high throughput synthesis with finely tuned composition control. To achieve the thermoelectric performance desired, a tight feedback loop between synthesis, characterization, and theory will be employed to actively guide the design of experiments. To identify materials with high mobility and low thermal conductivity, the team developed metrics that combine experimental and computational training data. These efforts are guided by the team's existing high-throughput calculation database, which has identified specific families of previously unexplored materials with high potential for thermoelectric performance. Over the last two years, these computational methods have been applied to 10,000 compounds, yielding the most extensive database of thermoelectric performance in the world. By considering thousands of compositions within a single structural family, trends in electronic and thermal conductivity emerge that could not have been predicted from a few samples produced with traditional bulk ceramic methods. High-throughput search techniques are particularly critical because the desired qualities are likely to only occur within a narrow chemical composition. The team expects to grow and characterize more than 20 macroscopic samples per day, a significant increase in throughput compared to conventional approaches.

Colorado State University

Paintable Heat-Reflective Coatings for Low-Cost Energy Efficient Windows

Colorado State University (CSU) and its partners are developing an inexpensive, polymer-based, energy-saving material that can be applied to windows as a retrofit. The team will develop a coating consisting of polymers that can rapidly self-assemble into orderly layers that will reflect infrared wavelengths but pass visible light. As such, the coating will help reduce building cooling requirements and energy use without darkening the room. The polymers can be applied as a paint, meaning that deployment could be faster, less expensive, and more widespread because homeowners can apply the window coatings themselves instead of paying for a technician. The team estimates that up to 75% of the dry film could be produced from commodity plastic, which has the potential to significantly reduce the current costs associated with manufacturing window coatings.

Colorado State University

Natural Gas Emissions Test Facility for ARPA-E MONITOR Program

The team, led by Colorado State University (CSU), will develop a test site facility near Fort Collins, CO where ARPA-E can evaluate the methane sensing technologies of the MONITOR project teams, as required by the MONITOR FOA. The CSU team will design, construct, and operate a natural gas testing facility that can determine whether MONITOR technologies have met or exceeded the technical performance targets set forth by the MONITOR program. The test facility will be designed to realistically mimic the layout of a broad range of natural gas facilities and equipment. The test facility will include a number of controlled natural gas emission release points that will be realistic in terms of location, magnitude, frequency, duration, and gas composition. The design will also include sub-facilities that can simulate different aspects of the natural gas industry supply chain such as dry gas production, wet gas production, midstream compression, metering and regulating stations, and underground pipeline releases. The test site is located in the Denver-Julesburg basin, but will be sufficiently far enough away from natural gas operations that background levels of methane will be very low. Thus, the site will provide a realistic, but highly controllable environment within which the MONITOR technologies can be accurately tested.

Colorado State University

Ultra-Efficient Turbo-Compression Cooling

Colorado State University (CSU) and its partners, Modine and Barber-Nichols, will develop a thermally powered supplemental cooling system for thermoelectric power plants that will enable dry cooling. The technology features a transformational turbo-compressor and low-cost, high-performance heat exchangers that are currently mass produced for the HVAC industry. To operate, low-grade waste heat from the power plant combustion exhaust gases, or flue gas, is captured and used to power a highly efficient turbo-compressor system. The compressor pressurizes vapor in a refrigeration cycle to remove up to 30% of the power plant cooling load. The cooling system utilizes proprietary technology to maximize the turbo compressor and total system efficiencies, enabling a low production cost and an overall smaller, less expensive dry-cooling system. As a result, the cooling system could allow thermoelectric power plants to maintain a high efficiency while eliminating the use of local water resources. Furthermore, due to its very high performance, the turbo-compression cooling system has potential applications in a range of other markets, including commercial HVAC systems, data center cooling, and distributed cooling industries.

Columbia University

Chemical and Biological Catalytic Enhancement of Weathering of Silicate Minerals as Novel Carbon Capture and Storage

Columbia University is developing a process to pull CO2 out of the exhaust gas of coal-fired power plants and turn it into a solid that can be easily and safely transported, stored above ground, or integrated into value-added products (e.g. paper filler, plastic filler, construction materials, etc.). In nature, the reaction of CO2 with various minerals over long periods of time will yield a solid carbonate--this process is known as carbon mineralization. The use of carbon mineralization as a CO2 capture and storage method is limited by the speeds at which these minerals can be dissolved and CO2 can be hydrated. To facilitate this, Columbia University is using a unique process and a combination of chemical catalysts which increase the mineral dissolution rate, and the enzymatic catalyst carbonic anhydrase which speeds up the hydration of CO2.

Columbia University

Can Silicon Photonics Offer a Path to Low Power Computing After All?

Columbia University will develop a new platform for generating multiple simultaneous optical channels (wavelengths) with low power dissipation, thereby enabling optical interconnects for low power computing. Optical interconnect links communicate using optical fibers that carry light. Wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) is a technology that combines a number of optical carrier signals on a single optical fiber by using different wavelengths. This technique enables bidirectional communications over strands of fiber, dramatically increasing capacity. Low-power lasers generate the wavelengths used in a WDM system, but it is important to stabilize the wavelength for each channel to allow for precise separation and filtering. The importance of stabilization increases when the number and density of wavelength channels increases. Energy use also increases because each of the laser sources must be individually stabilized. In contrast, the Columbia team proposes using a single high-powered stabilized laser to generate greater than 50 wavelength sources with high efficiency using an on-chip comb. This approach can improve laser energy efficiency from 0.01% to 10%.

Columbia University

PINE: Photonic Integrated Networked Energy efficient Datacenters

Columbia University will develop a new datacenter architecture co-designed with state-of-the-art silicon photonic technologies to reduce system-wide energy consumption. The team's approach will improve data movement between processor/memory and will optimize resource allocation throughout the network to minimize idle times and wasted energy. Data transfer in datacenters occurs over a series of interconnects that link different server racks of the datacenter together. Networks in modern mega-scale datacenters are becoming increasingly complicated. One by-product of this complexity is that on average a large number of these interconnections are idle due to application specific resource bottlenecks, effectively reducing the energy efficiency of the datacenter. The Columbia team will develop a solution that allows for dynamic resource re-allocation using unified photonic interconnects and a network fabric architecture that untangles computing and memory resources and allows bandwidth to be steered to appropriate areas of the network. The design addresses the stresses placed on systems by real-time communication-intensive applications. By precisely steering bandwidth and workload, idling is reduced and only the required amount of computation power, memory, capacity, and interconnectivity bandwidth are made available over the needed time period

Columbia University

Vertical GaN Power Transistors Using Controlled Spalling for Substrate Heterogeneity

Columbia University will create high-performance, low-cost, vertical gallium nitride (GaN) devices using a technique called spalling, which involves exfoliating a working circuit and transferring it to another material. Columbia and its project partners will spall and bond entire transistors from high-performance GaN wafers to lower cost silicon substrates. Substrates are thin wafers of semiconducting material needed to power devices like transistors and integrated circuits. GaN substrates operate much more efficiently than silicon substrates, particularly at high voltages, but the high cost of GaN is a barrier to its widespread use. The spalling technique developed by Columbia will allow GaN substrates to be reused, lowering their manufacturing cost.

Cornell University

PolarJFET - A Novel Vertical GaN Power Transistor Concept

Cornell University will develop an innovative, high-efficiency, gallium nitride (GaN) power switch. Cornell's design is significantly smaller and operates at much higher performance levels than conventional silicon power switches, making it ideal for use in a variety of power electronics applications. Cornell will also reuse expensive GaN materials and utilize conventional low-cost production methods to keep costs down.

Cornell University

Indoor Occupant Counting Based on RF Backscattering

Cornell University will develop an occupant monitoring system to enable more efficient control of HVAC systems in commercial buildings. The system is based on a combination of "active" radio frequency identification (RFID) readers and "passive" tags. Instead of requiring occupants to wear tags, the tags, as coordinated landmarks, will be distributed around a commercial area to enable an accurate occupancy count. When occupants, stationary or moving, are present among the RFID reader and multiple tags, their interference on the backscattering paths can be exploited to gain insights on the room population. The distributed tags will operate without the need for a power source. The system will employ efficient biomechanical models and inverse imaging algorithms to estimate the size, posture, and motion of the collected geometry and distinguish people from furniture and pets. Occupancy data is then sent to the building control system to manage the heating, cooling and air flow in order to maximize building energy efficiency while providing optimal human comfort.

Cornell University

Thermoregulatory Clothing System for Building Energy Saving

Cornell University will develop thermoregulatory apparel that enables the expansion of the comfortable temperature range in buildings by more than 4°F in both heating and cooling seasons. Cornell's thermoregulatory apparel integrates advanced textile technologies and state-of-the-art wearable electronics into a functional apparel design without compromising comfort, wearability, washability, appearance, or safety. The thermoregulatory clothing system senses the wearer's skin temperature and activates a heated or cooled airflow around the individual, reducing the energy required to heat or cool the building itself by satisfying the comfort requirements of the individual.

Cree Fayetteville, Inc.

Smart, Compact, Efficient 500kW DC Fast Charger

Cree Fayetteville (operating as Wolfspeed, A Cree Company) will team with Ford Motor Company and the University of Michigan-Dearborn to build a power converter for DC fast chargers for electric vehicles using a solid-state transformer based on silicon carbide. The team will construct a single-phase 500 kW building block for a DC fast charger that is at least four times the power density of todays installed units. This device would offer significant improvements in efficiency (greater than 60% less power losses), size/weight (greater than 75% smaller size, 85% less weight), and cost (40% lower materials costs) over the state-of-the-art. Using this system, an electric vehicle (100 kWh) will deliver long driving range with 6 mins of recharge. The compact size also reduces the footprint and structural costs in high-cost real estate in areas with high-population. The teaming of an end user (Ford) directly with the disruptive technology provider (Cree Fayetteville) may accelerate the deployment of fast charge capability for electric vehicles.

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