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Efficiency

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Catalytic Improvement of Solvent Capture Systems

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is designing a process to pull CO2 out of the exhaust gas of coal-fired power plants so it can be transported, stored, or utilized elsewhere. Human lungs rely on an enzyme known as carbonic anhydrase to help separate CO2 from our blood and tissue as part of the normal breathing process. LLNL is designing a synthetic catalyst with the same function as this enzyme. The catalyst can be used to quickly capture CO2 from coal exhaust, just as the natural enzyme does in our lungs. LLNL is also developing a method of encapsulating chemical solvents in permeable microspheres that will greatly increase the speed of binding of CO2. The goal of the project is an industry-ready chemical vehicle that can withstand the harsh environments found in exhaust gas and enable new, simple process designs requiring less capital investment.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Battery Management System with Distributed Wireless Sensors

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is developing a wireless sensor system to improve the safety and reliability of lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery systems by monitoring key operating parameters of Li-Ion cells and battery packs. This system can be used to control battery operation and provide early indicators of battery failure. LLNL's design will monitor every cell within a large Li-Ion battery pack without the need for large bundles of cables to carry sensor signals to the battery management system. This wireless sensor network will dramatically reduce system cost, improve operational performance, and detect battery pack failures in real time, enabling a path to cheaper, better, and safer large-scale batteries.

Lehigh University

Electric Field Swing Adsorption for Carbon Capture Applications

Two faculty members at Lehigh University created a new technique called supercapacitive swing adsorption (SSA) that uses electrical charges to encourage materials to capture and release CO2. Current CO2 capture methods include expensive processes that involve changes in temperature or pressure. Lehigh University's approach uses electric fields to improve the ability of inexpensive carbon sorbents to trap CO2. Because this process uses electric fields and not electric current, the overall energy consumption is projected to be much lower than conventional methods. Lehigh University is now optimizing the materials to maximize CO2 capture and minimize the energy needed for the process.

LI-COR Biosciences, Inc.

Ultra-Sensitive Methane Leak Detection System for the Oil and Gas Industry Exploiting a Novel Laser Spectroscopic Sensor with Revolutionary High Performance / Low Cost

LI-COR Biosciences is working with Colorado State University (CSU) and Gener8 to develop cost-effective, highly sensitive optical methane sensors that can be integrated into mobile or stationary methane monitoring systems. Their laser-based sensor utilizes optical cavity techniques, which provide long path lengths and high methane sensitivity and selectivity, but previously have been costly. The team will employ a novel sensor design developed in parallel with advanced manufacturing techniques to enable a substantial cost reduction. The sensors are expected to provide exceptional long-term stability, enabling robust, unattended field deployment and further reducing total cost-of-ownership. CSU will test representative sensor prototypes and demonstrate the sensor's application to leak detection and quantification. The team's proposed sensor could decrease the expense of today's monitoring technologies and encourage widespread adoption of methane monitoring and mitigation at natural gas wellpads.

Marquette University

Advanced Parallel Resonant 1MHz, 1MW, Three Phase AC to DC Ultra Fast EV Charger

Marquette University will develop a small, compact, lightweight, and efficient 1 MW battery charger for electric vehicles that will double the specific power and triple power density compared to the current state-of-the-art. The team aims to use MOSFET switches based on silicon carbide to ensure the device runs efficiently while handling very large amounts of power in a small package. If successful, the device could help to dramatically reduce charging times for electric vehicles to a matter of minutes - promoting faster adoption of electric vehicles with longer range, greater energy efficiency, and reduced range anxiety.

Marquette University

Ultra-Fast Resonant DC Breaker

Marquette University will leverage the technology gap presented by the lack of DC breaker technology. The project objective is to create an industry standard DC breaker that is compact, efficient, ultra-fast, lightweight, resilient, and scalable. The proposed solution will use a novel current source to force a zero current in the main current conduction path, providing a soft transition when turning on the DC breaker. A state-of-the-art actuator that can produce significantly more force than current solutions will also be used. The approach represents a transformational DC breaker scalable across voltage and current in medium voltage DC applications, such as power distribution, solar, wind, and electric vehicles.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Advanced Technologies for Integrated Power Electronics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is teaming with Georgia Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania to create more efficient power circuits for energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) through advances in 3 related areas. First, the team is using semiconductors made of high-performing gallium nitride grown on a low-cost silicon base (GaN-on-Si). These GaN-on-Si semiconductors conduct electricity more efficiently than traditional silicon semiconductors. Second, the team is developing new magnetic materials and structures to reduce the size and increase the efficiency of an important LED power component, the inductor. This advancement is important because magnetics are the largest and most expensive part of a circuit. Finally, the team is creating an entirely new circuit design to optimize the performance of the new semiconductors and magnetic devices it is using.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Electrochemically Mediated Separation for Carbon Capture and Mitigation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Siemens Corporation are developing a process to separate CO2 from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants by using electrical energy to chemically activate and deactivate sorbents--materials that absorb gases. The team found that certain sorbents bond to CO2 when they are activated by electrical energy and then transported through a specialized separator that deactivates the molecule and releases it for storage. This method directly uses the electricity from the power plant, which is a more efficient but more expensive form of energy than heat, though the ease and simplicity of integrating it into existing coal-fired power plants reduces the overall cost of the technology. This process could cost as low as $31 per ton of CO2 stored.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Multimetallic Layered Composites (MMLCS) for Rapid, Economical Advanced Reactor Deployment

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will lead a team including Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech, and the Idaho National Lab in developing multimetallic layered composites (MMLCs) for advanced nuclear reactors and assessing how they will improve reactor performance. Rather than seeking complex alloys that offer exceptional mechanical properties or corrosion resistance at unacceptable cost, this team will develop materials with functionally graded layers, each with a specific function. The team will seek general design principles and engineer specific MMLC embodiments. The materials developed will be tested using irradiation experiments, coupled with predictive models for performance under irradiation. To date, the issue of material performance at low cost has proved a challenge for advanced reactor deployment. Developing a scalable method of materials manufacturing and testing for advanced nuclear reactors could facilitate their rapid deployment, thereby reducing energy-related emissions and improving energy efficiency.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Scalable, Self-Powered Purification Technology for Brackish and Heavy Metal-Contaminated Water

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing a water treatment system to treat contaminated water from hydraulic fracking and seawater. There is a critical need for small to medium-sized, low-powered, low-cost water treatment technologies, particularly for regions lacking centralized water and energy infrastructure. Conventional water treatment methods, such as reverse osmosis, are not effective for most produced water clean up based on the high salt levels resulting from fracking. MIT's water treatment system will remove high-levels of typical water contaminants such as salt, metals, and microorganisms. The water treatment system is based on low-powered generation enabling efficient on-demand, on-site potable water production. The process allows for a 50% water recovery rate and is cost-competitive with conventional water treatment technology. MIT's water treatment device would require less power than competing technologies and has important applications for mining, oil and gas production, and water treatment for remote locations.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Seamless Hybrid-integrated Interconnect NEtwork (SHINE)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will develop a unified optical communication technology for use in datacenter optical interconnects. Compared to existing interconnect solutions, the proposed approach exhibits high energy efficiency and large bandwidth density, as well as a low-cost packaging design. Specifically, the team aims to develop novel photonic material, device, and heterogeneously integrated interconnection technologies that are scalable across chip-, board-, and rack-interconnect hierarchy levels. The MIT design uses an optical bridge to connect silicon semiconductors to flexible ribbons that carry light waves. The optical bridge scheme employs single-mode optical waveguides with small modal areas to minimize interconnect footprint, increase bandwidth density, and lower power consumption by using active devices with small junction area and capacitance. The architecture builds all the active photonic components (such as semiconductor lasers, modulators, and detectors) on the optical bridge platform to achieve low energy-per-bit connections. After developing the new photonic packaging technologies, and interconnection architectures, the team's final task will be to fabricate and test a prototype interconnect platform to validate the system models and demonstrate high bandwidth, low power, low bit-error-rate data transmission using the platform.

Material Methods, LLC

Phononic Heat Pump

Material Methods is developing a heat pump technology that substitutes the use of sound waves and an environmentally benign refrigerant for synthetic refrigerants found in conventional heat pumps. Called a thermoacoustic heat pump, the technology is based on the fact that the pressure oscillations in a sound wave result in temperature changes. Areas of higher pressure raise temperatures and areas of low pressure decrease temperatures. By carefully arranging a series of heat exchangers in a sound field, the heat pump is able to isolate the hot and cold regions of the sound waves. This technology is environmentally safe, and the simplicity of the mechanical system creates efficiencies that make the system cost competitive with traditional refrigerant-based systems.

Materials & Electrochemical Research (MER) Corporation

Advanced Electrolytic Titanium Powder Production from Titanium Oxycarbide

Materials & Electrochemical Research (MER) is scaling up an advanced electrochemical process to produce low-cost titanium from domestic ore. While titanium is a versatile and robust structural metal, its widespread adoption for consumer applications has been limited due to its high cost of production. MER is developing an new electrochemical titanium production process that avoids the cyclical formation of undesired titanium ions, thus significantly increasing the electrical current efficiency. MER will test different cell designs, reduce unwanted side reactions to increase energy efficiency, and minimize the heat loss that occurs when processing titanium. By developing a scalable and stable electrochemical cell, MER could significantly reduce the costs and energy consumption associated with producing titanium.

Matrix Sensors, Inc

Stable, Low Cost, Low Power, CO2 Sensor for Demand-controlled Ventilation

Matrix Sensors and its partners will develop a low-cost CO2 sensor module that can be used to enable better control of ventilation in commercial buildings. Matrix Sensor's module uses a solid-state architecture that leverages scalable semiconductor manufacturing processes. Key to this architecture is a suitable sensor material that can selectively adsorb CO2, release the molecule when the concentration decreases, and complete this process quickly to enable real-time sensing. The team's design will use a new class of porous materials known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs possess high gas uptake properties, molecule selectivity and high stability. As the MOF adsorbs and desorbs CO2, a connected transducer detects the change in mass. Beyond developing the MOF, key goals for the team include developing capable transducers for the MOF gas sensor, as well as the development of wireless sensor module which will be self-contained including the sensor element, micro-processor, battery, and wireless interface. The sensor will be wall-mounted and easily installed since it will not require wired power. If successful, the project will result in a CO2 sensor system with a total cost of ownership that is 5 to 10x lower than today's systems.

Maxion Technologies, Inc.

Tunable Laser for Methane Sensing

Maxion Technologies is partnering with Thorlabs Quantum Electronics (TQE), Praevium Research, and Rice University to develop a low cost, tunable, mid-infrared (mid-IR) laser source to be used in systems for detecting and measuring methane emissions. The new architecture is planned to reduce the cost of lasers capable of targeting methane optical absorption lines near 3.3 microns, enabling the development of affordable, high sensitivity sensors. The team will combine Praevium and TQE's state-of-the-art Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System tunable Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (MEMS-VCSEL) technology with an Interband Cascade Laser (ICL) active core developed by Maxion. The unique design offers advantages in manufacturing that are expected to yield a factor-of-40 reduction in the cost of the laser source, and the wide tunability will allow the same laser design to be shared across multiple applications. When integrated with a full methane detection system, this technology could enable significant reduction in the cost associated with identifying, quantifying, and locating methane leaks as compared to currently available technologies.

Michigan State University

Diamond Diode and Transistor Devices

Michigan State University (MSU) will develop high-voltage diamond semiconductor devices for use in high-power electronics. Diamond is an excellent conductor of electricity when boron or phosphorus is added--or doped--into its crystal structures. It can also withstand much higher temperatures with higher performance levels than silicon, which is used in the majority of today's semiconductors. However, current techniques for growing doped diamond and depositing it on electronic devices are difficult and expensive. MSU is overcoming these challenges by using an innovative, low-cost, lattice-etching method on doped diamond surfaces, which will facilitate improved conductivity in diamond semiconductor devices.

MicroLink Devices

High-Power Vertical-Junction Field-Effect Transistors Fabricated on Low-Dislocation-Density GaN by Epitaxial Lift-Off

MicroLink Devices will engineer affordable, high-performance transistors for power conversion. Currently, high-performance power transistors are prohibitively expensive because they are grown on expensive gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor wafers. In conventional manufacturing processes, this expensive wafer is permanently attached to the transistor, so the wafer can only be used once. MicroLink Devices will develop an innovative method to remove the transistor structure from the wafer without damaging any components, enabling wafer reuse and significantly reducing costs.

Monolith Semiconductor, Inc.

Advanced Manufacturing and Performance Enhancements for Reduced Cost Silicon Carbide MOSFETS

Monolith Semiconductor will utilize advanced device designs and existing low-cost, high-volume manufacturing processes to create high-performance silicon carbide (SiC) devices for power conversion. SiC devices provide much better performance and efficiency than their silicon counterparts, which are used in the majority of today's semiconductors. However, SiC devices cost significantly more. Monolith will develop a high-volume SiC production process that utilizes existing silicon manufacturing facilities to help drive down the cost of SiC devices.

N5 Sensors, Inc

Digital System-on-chip CO2 Sensor

N5 Sensors and its partners will develop and test a novel semiconductor-based CO2 sensor technology that can be placed on a single microchip. CO2 concentration data can help enable the use of variable speed ventilation fans in commercial buildings. CO2 sensing may also improve the comfort and productivity of people in commercial buildings, including academic spaces. N5 Sensor's solution will determine CO2 concentrations through absorption of CO2 when the concentrations are high in the environment, and desorption of CO2 when the concentrations are low. The team's project combines innovations in a number of areas: ultra-low power sensing architecture, semiconductor microfabrication, effective gas separation membranes, novel signal processing, and machine learning. If successful, the project can result in a 10x reduction in the price of CO2 sensors and the innovation will ultimately result in a low-cost, highly autonomous systems with "peel, stick and press button" type of installation and operation.

Nalco Company

Energy Efficient Capture of CO2 from Coal Flue Gas

Nalco is developing a process to capture carbon in the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. Conventional CO2 capture methods require the use of a vacuum or heat, which are energy-intensive and expensive processes. Nalco's approach to carbon capture involves controlling the acidity of the capture mixture and using an enzyme to speed up the rate of carbon capture from the exhaust gas. Changing the acidity drives the removal of CO2 from the gas without changing temperature or pressure, and the enzyme speeds up the capture rate of CO2. In addition, Nalco's technology would be simpler to retrofit to existing coal-fired plants than current technologies, so it could be more easily deployed.

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