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Stanford University


Stanford University will develop a new process to produce furan-2,5-dicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a potential replacement for purified terephthalic acid (PTA). PTA is produced from petroleum on the scale of 60 million tons per year and used to make synthetic polymers like polyester. The production of PTA is associated with 90 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. FDCA, on the other hand, can be made from biomass and its polymers boast superior physical properties for high-volume applications such as beverage bottles. Current technologies produce FDCA from food sources (fructose) and have not demonstrated economic competitiveness with PTA. The Stanford technology produces FDCA from CO2 and furfural, a feedstock chemical produced industrially from waste biomass. The use of CO2 avoids challenging oxidation reactions required for fructose-based syntheses, which provides a potential advantage for commercial production. Packed-bed reactors utilizing the technology have achieved high FDCA yields but require reaction times that are too long for industrial application. This project will transition the process to a fluidized bed reactor, where reactants are suspended in flowing CO2, to achieve industrially viable synthesis rates. If optimized, the process could enable the production of FDCA with negative greenhouse gas emissions.

Stanford University

Exploring the Limits of Cooling for Extreme Heat Flux Applications: Data Centers and Power Electronics

Stanford will develop an innovative cooling technology, the Extreme Heat Flux Micro- (EHF?-) Cooler, to improve reliability and performance in power electronics by offering improved chip thermal management. The cooler employs a novel liquid wicking, thin-film evaporator, with microchannels to route liquid and the resulting vapor, with the net effect of improved heat removal rates at manageable pressure drops. This significantly increases heat flux thereby reducing the device (chip) temperature. The design could increase heat transfer rates by an order of magnitude compared with today's corresponding state-of-the-art cooling technologies. Improved cooling devices could greatly increase efficiency, reliability, and performance for microprocessors and power electronics.

Stanford University

High Efficiency Wafer-Scale Thermionic Energy Converters

By leveraging advanced microfabrication processes, the team led by Stanford University will develop a scalable heat-to-electricity conversion device with higher performance at a lower manufacturing cost than is presently available to industry. The team's solid-state conversion device is based on a 20th century thermionic converter design, where an electric current is produced by heating up an electrode to eject electrons across a vacuum gap for collection by a cooler electrode. Historically, thermionic energy converters are limited by heat losses and are costly to manufacture due to the high precision used in their construction. However, by utilizing wafer-based fabrication processes to create a much smaller vacuum gap and enhanced thermal isolation structures, Stanford's thermionic converter will result in improved device performance, lower manufacturing cost, and a scalability for systems producing Watts to Megawatts of power. The team's initial focus is on the residential Combined Heat and Power (CHP) applications, but their innovative microfabricated thermionic device could also be used to improve efficiency in high-temperature solar thermal systems as well as convert waste heat from factory equipment, power plants, and vehicles to useful power.

Stanford University

Photonic structure textiles for localized thermal management

Stanford University will develop transformative methods for integrating photonic, or radiant energy structures into textiles. Controlling the thermal photonic properties of textiles can significantly influence the heat dissipation rate of the human body, which loses a significant amount of heat through thermal radiation. To achieve heating, the team utilizes metallic nanowire embedded in textiles to enhance reflection of body heat. To achieve cooling, the team utilizes visibly opaque yet infrared transmissivity (IR) transparent textile. These techniques for heating and cooling have not yet been achieved to date. The team will leverage advances in photonic structures to build textiles with varying amounts of infrared transparency and reflectivity to enable a wearer to achieve comfort in a wider temperature range, and therefore generate a substantial reduction of energy consumption for both heating and cooling.

Stanford University

Photonic Structures for High-Efficiency Daytime Radiative Cooling

Stanford University is developing a device for the rooftops of buildings and cars that will reflect sunlight and emit heat, enabling passive cooling, even when the sun is shining. This device requires no electricity or fuel and would reduce the need for air conditioning, leading to energy and cost savings. Stanford's technology relies on recently developed state-of-the-art concepts and techniques to tailor the absorption and emission of light and heat in nanostructured materials. This project could enable buildings, cars, and electronics to cool without using electric power.

Stanford University

Thermoacoustic Root Imaging, Biomass Analysis, and Characterization

Stanford University will develop a non-contact root imaging system that uses a hybrid of microwave excitation and ultrasound detection. Microwave excitation from the surface can penetrate the soil to the roots, and results in minor heating of the roots and soil at varying levels depending on their physical properties. This heating creates a thermoacoustic signal in the ultrasound domain that travels back out of the soil. The team's advanced ultrasound detector has the ability to detect these signals and maintain sufficient signal-to-noise ratio for imaging and root biomass analysis. The team will develop a suite of image processing algorithms to convert the data into an understanding of root properties including structure, biomass density, and depth. Plant physiologists from the Carnegie Institution for Science will partner with Stanford to characterize maize roots under various drought conditions as well as soil type and density variations. Since the entire system is non-contact, it eliminates the need to make good physical contact with the irregular soil surfaces. Over a three-year period, the team will first demonstrate the feasibility of non-contact thermoacoustics for root imaging under laboratory conditions, then develop and test a thermoacoustic system in the field. If successful, Stanford's system could examine root structures in a noninvasive manner that produces images far more advanced than current imaging methods.

Stony Brook University

Electroactive Smart Air-Conditioner VEnt Registers (eSAVER) for Improved Personal Comfort and Reduced Electricity Consumption

The State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook will develop eSAVER, an active air conditioning vent capable of modulating airflow distribution, velocity, and temperature to promote localized thermal envelopes around building occupants. Stony Brook's smart vent modulates the airflow using an array of electro-active polymer tubes that are individually controlled to create a localized curtain of air to suit the occupant's heating or cooling needs. The eSAVER can immediately be implemented by simply replacing an existing HVAC register with the new unit or can be installed in new constructions for significant reduction in HVAC system size,construction cost,and further improvement in energy efficiency.The project team estimates this will result in upwards of 30% energy savings through directed localization of existing building heating/cooling output.

Stony Brook University


The State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook will work with Brookhaven National Laboratory, United Technologies Research Center, and the Gas Technology Institute to develop a thermosyphon system that condenses water vapor from power plant flue gas for evaporative cooling. The system could provide supplemental cooling for thermoelectric power plants in which the combustion process - burning fossil fuel to produce heat - results in a significant quantity of water vapor that is typically discharged to the atmosphere. In Stony Brook's system, an advanced loop thermosyphon will allow the liquid and vapor phases to flow in the same direction, and the working fluid (water) is actively managed with a fluid delivery system to create a thin film on the wall of the thermosyphon. This thin film will enable significantly higher heat transfer rates than traditional thermosyphon evaporators that use a pool of liquid. The cooled flue gas condensate is then stored and used for subsequent evaporative cooling when the ambient temperature exceeds acceptable operating limits, such as on a hot day when a dry-cooling system alone could not cool water sufficiently for reuse. In addition to creating a novel design and control architecture, the team will also design innovative, polymer-based components to minimize corrosion from the flue gas. The team estimates its system can capture 320,000 gallons of water per day for evaporative cooling, helping to eliminate the consumption of local water resources for evaporative cooling on high-temperature days.

SUNY Polytechnic

Demonstration of PN-junctions by Ion implantation techniques for GaN (DOPING-GaN)

The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY), on behalf of SUNY Polytechnic University, will develop innovative doping process technologies for gallium nitride (GaN) vertical power devices to realize the potential of GaN-based devices for future high efficiency, high power applications. SUNY Polytechnic's proposed research will focus on ion implantation to enable the creation of localized doping that is necessary for fabricating GaN vertical power devices. Ion implantation is a doping process used in other semiconductor materials such as Si and GaAs but has been difficult to use in GaN due to the limited ability to perform high temperature heat treatments or anneals needed to activate the implanted dopants and repair the damage caused by implantation. The team will develop new annealing techniques to activate magnesium or silicon implanted in GaN to build p-n junctions, the principal building block of modern electronic components like transistors. High temperature anneals will be performed using an innovative gyrotron beam technique (a high-power vacuum tube that generates millimeter-length electromagnetic waves) and an aluminum nitride cap. Central to the team's project is understanding the impact of implantation on the microstructural properties of the GaN material and effects on performance.

SUNY Polytechnic

SMART SiC Power ICs (Scalable, Manufacturable, and Robust Technology for SiC Power Integrated Circuits)

The State University of New York Polytechnic Institute will develop a scalable, manufacturable, and robust technology platform for silicon carbide (SiC) power integrated circuits. The team will leverage the relatively high maturity of SiC technology to develop highly scalable SiC integrated circuits and support devices and establish a manufacturable process baseline in a state-of-the-art, 6-inch fabrication facility. This allows for much higher power (as compared to silicon) integrated circuits in future. The technology platform opens the door to a myriad of high-performance energy applications, including automotive, industrial, electronic data processing, energy harvesting, and power conditioning.

Sustainable Energy Solutions

Cryogenic Carbon Capture

Sustainable Energy Solutions (SES) is developing a process to capture CO2 from the exhaust gas of coal-fired power plants by desublimation--the conversion of a gas to a solid. Capturing CO2 as a solid and delivering it as a liquid avoids the large energy cost of CO2 gas compression. SES' capture technology facilitates the prudent use of available energy resources; coal is our most abundant energy resource and is an excellent fuel for baseline power production. SES capture technology can capture 99% of the CO2 emissions in addition to a wide range of other pollutants more efficiently and at lower costs than existing capture technologies. SES' capture technology can be readily added to our existing energy infrastructure.

Syracuse University

Micro Environmental Control System

Syracuse University will develop a near-range micro-environmental control system transforming the way office buildings are thermally conditioned to improve occupant comfort. The system leverages a high-performance micro-scroll compressor coupled to a phase-change material, which is a substance with a high latent heat of fusion and the capability to store and release large amounts of heat at a constant temperature. This material will store the cooling produced by the compression system at night, releasing it as a cool breeze of air to make occupants more comfortable during the day. When heating is needed, the system will operate as an efficient heat pump, drawing heat from the phase-change material and delivering warm air to the occupant. The micro-scroll compressor is smaller than any of its type, minimizing the amount of power needed. The use of this micro-environmental control system, along with expanding the set-point range could save more than 15% of the energy used for heating and cooling, while maintaining occupant comfort.

Syracuse University

Microcam: A low power privacy preserving multi-modal platform for occupancy detection and counting

Syracuse University will develop a sensor unit to detect occupancy in residential homes called MicroCam. The MicroCam system will be equipped with a very low-resolution camera sensor, a low-resolution infrared array sensor, a microphone, and a low-power embedded processor. These tools allow the system to measure shape/texture from static images, motion from video, and audio changes from the microphone input. The combination of these modalities can reduce error, since any one modality in isolation may be prone to missed detections or high false alarm rates. Advanced algorithms will translate these multiple data streams into actionable adjustments to home heating and cooling. The algorithms will be implemented locally on the sensor unit for a stand-alone solution not reliant on external computation units or cloud computing. The MicroCam system itself will be wireless and battery-powered (operating for at least 4.5 years on 3 AA or 2 C batteries), and will be designed to be easily installed and self-commissioned.

TDA Research, Inc.

Novel Cooling for Dry Cooling Power Plants

TDA Research will develop a water recovery system that extracts and condenses 64% of the water vapor produced by the gas turbine in a natural gas combined cycle's (NGCC) power plant and stores this water for use in evaporative cooling. The system will provide supplemental cooling to NGCC power plants in which the combustion process - burning the natural gas to produce heat - produces a significant quantity of water vapor that is typically discharged to the atmosphere. First, a direct-contact condensation cycle will recover 27% of water vapor from the flue gas. To increase the amount of water recovered, a desiccant, which is a substance that attracts water, will be used to absorb an additional 37% of the water vapor. TDA's desiccant cycle utilizes the waste heat in the exhaust to regenerate the desiccant for reuse. This water recovery cycle would occur during cooler months when the water from combustion is easier to capture. Much of the water collected during this period will then be stored in an adjacent lake and saved for use during hotter summer months when evaporative cooling offers the maximum benefit to improve power plant efficiency. The project team estimates that its technology can reduce the performance penalty of a dry-cooling system by 30% compared to wet cooling. Moreover, the team is designing the system to use low-cost materials, which reduces capital costs.

Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, LLC

Integrated Power Chip Converter for Solid-State Lighting

Teledyne Scientific & Imaging is developing cost-effective power drivers for energy-efficient LED lights that fit on a compact chip. These power drivers are important because they transmit power throughout the LED device. Traditional LED driver components waste energy and don't last as long as the LED itself. They are also large and bulky, so they must be assembled onto a circuit board separately which increases the overall manufacturing cost of the LED light. Teledyne is shrinking the size and improving the efficiency of its LED driver components by using thin layers of an iron magnetic alloy and new gallium nitride on silicon devices. Smaller, more efficient components will enable the drivers to be integrated on a single chip, reducing costs. The new semiconductors in Teledyne's drivers can also handle higher levels of power and last longer without sacrificing efficiency. Initial applications for Teledyne's LED power drivers include refrigerated grocery display cases and retail lighting.

Texas A&M University

SLEEPIR- Synchronized Low-Energy Electonically-chopped PIR Sensor for Occupancy Detection

Texas A&M University will develop an advanced, low-cost occupancy detection solution for residential homes. Their system, called SLEEPIR, is based on pyroelectric infrared sensors (PIR) a popular choice for occupancy detection and activity tracking due to their low cost, low energy consumption, large detection range, and wide field of view. However, traditional PIR sensors can only detect individuals in motion. The team proposes a next-generation PIR sensor that is able to detect non-moving heat sources and provide quantitative information on movement. Their innovation relies on the use of an "optical chopper" which temporarily interrupts the flow of heat to the sensor and allows the device to detect both stationary and moving individuals. The team will evaluate several approaches for the chopper, such as new low-power liquid crystal technology with no moving parts. They will apply new signal processing techniques and machine learning to the infrared data, enabling differentiation between pets and people and potentially sleep vs. active states. A central hub accepts wireless data from the sensors and overrides the home thermostat as needed to adjust temperatures and provide up to 30% energy savings to the home.

Texas A&M University

A Field-Deployable Magnetic Resonance Imaging Rhizotron for Modeling and Enhancing Root Growth and Biogeochemical Function

Texas A&M AgriLife Research will develop low field magnetic resonance imaging (LF-MRI) instrumentation that can image intact soil-root systems. The system will measure root biomass, architecture, 3D mass distribution, and growth rate, and could be used for selection of ideal plant characteristics based on these root metrics. It will also have the ability to three-dimensionally image soil water content, a key property that drives root growth and exploration. Operating much like a MRI used in a medical setting, the system can function in the field without damaging plants, unlike traditional methods such as trenching, soil coring, and root excavation. The team will test two different approaches: an in-ground system shaped like a cylinder that can be inserted into the soil to surround the roots; and a coil device that can be deployed on the soil surface around the plant stem. If successful, these systems can help scientists better understand the root-water-soil interactions that drive processes such as nutrient uptake by crops, water use, and carbon management. This new information is crucial for the development of plants optimized for carbon sequestration without sacrificing economic yield. The project also aims to help develop ideal energy sorghum possessing high root growth rates, roots with more vertical angles, and roots that are more drought resistant and proliferate under water limiting conditions.

Texas A&M University

Stimuli-Responsive Metal-Organic Frameworks for Energy-Efficient Post-Combustion Carbon Dioxide Capture

A team led by three professors at Texas A&M University is developing a subset of metal organic frameworks that respond to stimuli such as small changes in temperature to trap CO2 and then release it for storage. These frameworks are a promising class of materials for carbon capture applications because their structure and chemistry can be controlled with great precision. Because the changes in temperature required to trap and release CO2 in Texas A&M's frameworks are much smaller than in other carbon capture approaches, the amount of energy or stimulus that has to be diverted from coal-fired power plants to accomplish this is greatly reduced. The team is working to alter the materials so they bind only with CO2, and are stable enough to withstand the high temperatures found in the chimneys of coal-fired power plants.

Texas Engineering Experiment Station

Metal Hydride Cycle Electricity Generation from Solar-Thermal Array

Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) is developing a system to generate electricity from low-temperature waste heat streams. Conventional waste heat recovery technology is proficient at harnessing energy from waste heat streams that are at a much higher temperature than ambient air. However, existing technology has not been developed to address lower temperature differences. The proposed system cycles between heating and cooling a metal hydride to produce a flow of pressurized hydrogen. This hydrogen flow is then used to generate electricity via a turbine generator. TEES's system has the potential to be more efficient than conventional waste heat recovery technologies based on its ability to harness smaller temperature differences than are necessary for conventional waste heat recovery.

The Boeing Company

A Case Study on the Impact of Additive Manufacturing for Heat/Mass Transfer Equipment used for Power Production

The Boeing Company is developing a next-generation air-cooled heat exchanger by leveraging technological advances in additive manufacturing (AM). The work builds on a previous ARPA-E IDEAS award to the University of Maryland that included the fabrication of geometrically complex heat exchanger coupons. Boeing subsequently demonstrated AM fabrication of thin-walled structures with a thickness of 125 to 150 microns, which represents a 50% reduction relative to then-state-of-the-art AM processes. The high temperature heat exchanger currently under development employs complex internal geometries to achieve an expected 20-30% improvement in thermal performance and up to 20% reduction in weight. Current manufacturing techniques include manual stacking of heat exchangers, brazing in a thermal vacuum chamber, and welding of external features. Each of these manufacturing steps is time consuming, expensive, and may damage the part. A validated AM process for heat exchangers could lead to fabrication cost savings well in excess of 25% by eliminating these steps. If successful, these high performance, lightweight heat exchangers would enable more energy-efficient aircraft. AM can also expand the design space for heat exchangers, enabling advanced designs that conform to challenging form factor requirements. Advances in efficient air-side cooling could also have significant spillover benefits in additional industries such as power plant and distributed energy systems, automotive, air-conditioning and refrigeration, power electronics, and chemical processing.


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