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Efficiency

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.

Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc.

Low-Cost, Highly Integrated, Silicon Carbide Multi-Chip Power Modules for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Currently, charging the battery of an electric vehicle (EV) is a time-consuming process because chargers can only draw about as much power from the grid as a hair dryer. APEI is developing an EV charger that can draw as much power as a clothes dryer, which would drastically speed up charging time. APEI's charger uses silicon carbide (SiC)-based power transistors. These transistors control the electrical energy flowing through the charger's circuits more effectively and efficiently than traditional transistors made of straight silicon. The SiC-based transistors also require less cooling, enabling APEI to create EV chargers that are 10 times smaller than existing chargers.

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.

ATK

A High Efficiency Inertial CO2 Extraction System

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.

Avogy, Inc.

Vertical GaN Transistors on Bulk GaN Substrates

Avogy will develop a vertical transistor with a gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor that is 30 times smaller than conventional silicon transistors but can conduct significantly more electricity. Avogy's GaN transistor will function effectively in high-power electronics because it can withstand higher electric fields and operate at higher temperatures than comparable silicon transistors. Avogy's vertical device architecture can also enable higher current devices. With such a small and efficient device, Avogy projects it will achieve functional cost parity with conventional silicon transistors within three years, while offering game-changing performance improvements.

Ayar Labs, Inc.

LytBit: An In-Rack Optical Communications System

Ayar Labs will develop new intra-rack configurations using silicon-based photonic (optical) transceivers, optical devices that transmit and receive information. The team will additionally develop methods to package their photonic transceiver with an electronic processor chip. Marrying these two components will reduce the size and cost of the chip system. Integrated packaging also moves the photonics closer to the chip, which increases energy efficiency by reducing the amount of "hops" between components. If successful, the project will prove that chip packages incorporating both optics and processors, or optics and switches, are possible. This will finally allow optics to penetrate deep into an electrical system and relieve chip interconnect bottlenecks, enabling system architecture improvements to achieve nearly double the energy efficiency with a structure more optimized for future data-use cases such as "big data" analytics and machine learning.

Baldor Electric Company

Rare-Earth-Free Traction Motor for Electric Vehicle Applications

Baldor Electric Company is developing a new type of traction motor with the potential to efficiently power future generations of EVs. Unlike today's large, bulky EV motors which use expensive, imported rare-earth-based magnets, Baldor's motor could be light, compact, contain no rare earth materials, and have the potential to deliver more torque at a substantially lower cost. Key innovations in this project include the use of a unique motor design, incorporation of an improved cooling system, and the development of advanced materials manufacturing techniques. These innovations could significantly reduce the cost of an electric motor.

Battelle Memorial Institute

Cascade Reverse Osmosis and the Absorption Osmosis Cycle

Battelle Memorial Institute is developing a new air conditioning system that uses a cascade reverse osmosis-based absorption cycle. Analyses show that this new cycle can be as much as 60% more efficient than vapor compression, which is used in 90% of air conditioners. Traditional vapor-compression systems use polluting liquids for a cooling effect. Absorption cycles use benign refrigerants such as water, which is absorbed in a salt solution and pumped as liquid--replacing compression of vapor. The refrigerant is subsequently separated from absorbing salt using heat for re-use in the cooling cycle. Battelle is replacing thermal separation of refrigerant with a more efficient reverse osmosis process. Research has shown that the cycle is possible, but further investment will be needed to reduce the number of cascade reverse osmosis stages and therefore cost.

Battelle Memorial Institute

Battery Fault Sensing in Operating Batteries

Battelle Memorial Institute is developing an optical sensor to monitor the internal environment of lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries in real-time. Over time, crystalline structures known as dendrites can form within batteries and cause a short circuiting of the battery's electrodes. Because faults can originate in even the tiniest places within a battery, they are hard to detect with traditional sensors. Battelle is exploring a new, transformational method for continuous monitoring of operating Li-Ion batteries. Their optical sensors detect internal faults well before they can lead to battery failures or safety problems. The Battelle team will modify a conventional battery component to scan the cell's interior, watching for internal faults to develop and alerting the battery management system to take corrective action before a hazardous condition occurs.

BlazeTech Corp.

Hyperspectral Imaging for the Identification of Light Metals

BlazeTech is developing advanced sorting software that uses a specialized camera to distinguish multiple grades of light metal scrap by examining how they reflect different wavelengths of light. Existing identification technologies rely on manual sorting of light metals, which can be inaccurate and slow. BlazeTech's sorting technology would identify scrap metal content based on the way that each light metal appears under BlazeTech's sorting camera, automating the sorting process and enabling more comprehensive metal recycling. The software developed under this program will be used to dramatically improve existing metal sorting systems. This technology offers great potential to improve the efficiency of light metals recycling, as similar techniques have proven successful in other industries, including vegetation surveying and plastics identification.

Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation

Revolutionary Process for Low-Cost Titanium

Boston Electrometallurgical Corporation will develop and scale a one step molten oxide electrolysis process for producing Ti metal directly from the oxide. Titanium oxide is dissolved in a molten oxide, where it is directly and efficiently extracted as molten titanium metal. In this process, electrolysis is used to separate the product from the solution as a bottom layer that can then be removed from the reactor in its molten state. If successful, it could replace the multistep Kroll process with a one-step process that resembles today's aluminum production techniques. If successful, Ti ingots could be produced at cost parity with stainless steel, opening the doorway to industrial waste heat recovery applications and increasing its adoption in commercial aircraft.

Boston University

Scalable, Dual-Mode Occupancy Sensing for Commercial Venues

Boston University (BU) will develop an occupancy sensing system to estimate the number of people in commercial spaces and monitor how this number changes over time. Their Computational Occupancy Sensing SYstem (COSSY) will be designed to deliver robust performance by combining data from off-the-shelf sensors and cameras. Data streams will be interpreted by advanced detection algorithms to provide an occupancy estimate. All processing will be performed locally to mitigate security concerns. The system will be designed to accommodate various room sizes and geometries. Occupancy data will be sent to the building control system to manage the heating, cooling, and air flow in order to maximize building energy efficiency and provide optimal human comfort. Energy costs of heating and cooling can be reduced by up to 30% by training the building management system to deliver the right temperature air when and where it is needed. The system's use of components readily available in the market today promises low cost and fast commercialization.

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.

California Institute of Technology

Mechanistic Explanation of Acoustic Wave Enhanced Catalysis (AWEC); An Opportunity for Catalytic Transformations With Greatly Reduced Energy Costs

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) team is using first-principles reasoning (i.e. a mode of examination that begins with the most basic physical principles related to an issue and "builds up" from there) and advanced computational modeling to ascertain the underlying mechanisms that cause acoustic waves to affect catalytic reaction pathways. The team will first focus their efforts on two types of reactions for which there is strong experimental evidence that acoustic waves can enhance catalytic activity: Carbon Monoxide (CO) oxidation, and Ethanol decomposition. Armed with this new understanding, the team will suggest promising applications for acoustic wave enhanced catalysis to new reactions with large energy and emissions footprints, such as ammonia synthesis. As an ARPA-E IDEAS project, this research is at a very early stage. However, this novel approach to acoustic wave enhanced catalysis has the potential to improve energy and resource efficiency across broad swathes of the chemical, industrial, and other sectors of the economy.

Carnegie Mellon University

Nanocomposite Magnet Technology for High Frequency MW-Scale Power Converters

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is developing a new nanoscale magnetic material that will reduce the size, weight, and cost of utility-scale PV solar power conversion systems that connect directly to the grid. Power converters are required to turn the energy that solar power systems create into useable energy for the grid. The power conversion systems made with CMU's nanoscale magnetic material have the potential to be 150 times lighter and significantly smaller than conventional power conversion systems that produce similar amounts of power.

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

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.

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