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Efficiency

University of Missouri

High quality GaN FETs through Transmutation Doping and Low Temperature Processing

The University of Missouri will develop neutron transmutation doping of GaN to fabricate uniform heavily doped n-type GaN wafers. GaN has long been proposed as a superior material for power electronic devices due to the intrinsic material advantages such as greater breakdown voltages and greater stability. Unfortunately, the fabrication of GaN wafers with uniform and high levels of dopants is challenging due to a lack of sufficient control during the existing crystal growth methods. The neutron transmutation doping process, which consists of exposing GaN wafers to neutron radiation to create a stable network of the dopant germanium within the GaN wafer, allows for a greater degree of precision and results in a high level, uniform doping concentrations across the wafer. With this method, repeatable production of high quality GaN substrates may be achieved. Specific innovations in this proposal concern an in-depth study of neutron transmission doping and a characterization of the resulting wafer, including analyzing resistivity, dopant concentration, unwanted impurities, and damage to the GaN lattice.

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Voltage and Frequency Power Converter Based on Electromagnetic Induction

The University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) will develop an innovative concept for an electromagnetic induction-based static power converter for AC to AC electrical conversions. Their method will use a new device, the magnetic flux valve, to actively control the magnetic flux of the converter. The voltages induced across the device can be controlled by varying the magnetic fluxes. By synthesizing the induced voltages appropriately, the converter can take an AC input and generate an AC output with controllable amplitude, frequency, and waveform. During this project, the team plans to prove the concept of the magnetic flux valve; prove the concept for variable-frequency and variable voltage AC-AC electrical energy conversion; and conduct a study on the scalability of the magnetic flux valve and electromagnetic power converter concepts. If successful, the technology has the potential to achieve lower cost, higher energy density, and higher efficiency than traditional energy conversion technologies. More efficient conversion technologies for high voltage and high power applications can lead to new innovations in renewable power generation and smart grid applications.

University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center

Novel Dry Cooling Technology for Power Plants

University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (UND-EERC) is developing an air-cooling alternative for power plants that helps maintain operating efficiency during electricity production with low environmental impact. The project addresses the shortcomings of conventional dry cooling, including high cost and degraded cooling performance during daytime temperature peaks. UND-EERC's device would use an air-cooled adsorbent liquid that results in more efficient power production with no water consumption. The technology could be applied to a broad range of plants including fossil, nuclear, solar thermal, and geothermal.

University of Notre Dame

Compact, Efficient Air Conditioning with Ionic Liquid-Based Refrigerants

The University of Notre Dame is developing an air-conditioning system with a new ionic liquid and CO2 as the working fluid. Synthetic refrigerants used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems are potent GHGs and can trap 1,000 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 alone--making CO2 an attractive alternative for synthetic refrigerants in cooling systems. However, operating cooling systems with pure CO2 requires prohibitively high pressures and expensive hardware. Notre Dame is creating a new fluid made of CO2 and ionic liquid that enables the use of CO2 at low pressures and requires minimal changes to existing hardware and production lines. This new fluid also produces no harmful emissions and can improve the efficiency of air conditioning systems--enabling new use of CO2 as a refrigerant in cooling systems.

University of Notre Dame

CO2 Capture with Ionic Liquids Involving Phase Change

The University of Notre Dame is developing a new CO2 capture process that uses special ionic liquids (ILs) to remove CO2 from the gas exhaust of coal-fired power plants. ILs are salts that are normally liquid at room temperature, but Notre Dame has discovered a new class of ILs that are solid at room temperature and change to liquid when they bind to CO2. Upon heating, the CO2 is released for storage, and the ILs re-solidify and donate some of the heat generated in the process to facilitate further CO2 release. These new ILs can reduce the energy required to capture CO2 from the exhaust stream of a coal-fired power plant when compared to state-of-the-art technology.

University of Pittsburgh

CO2 Thickeners to Improve the Performance of CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery and CO2 Fracturing

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is developing a compound to increase the viscosity of--or thicken--liquid carbon dioxide (CO2). This higher-viscosity CO2 compound could be used to improve the performance of enhanced oil recovery techniques. Crude oil is found deep below the surface of the earth in layers of sandstone and limestone, and one of the ways to increase our ability to recover it is to inject a high-pressure CO2 solvent into these layers. Unfortunately, because the solvent is less viscous--or thinner--than oil, it is not robust enough to uniformly sweep the oil out of the rock and toward the oil well. Pitt's CO2-thickeners would improve the performance of the solvents involved in this process, allowing it to carry higher concentrations of oil to the surface. The thickeners would decrease the cost and increase the efficiency of enhanced oil recovery, and could also serve to enable liquid CO2 as a replacement for the water used during recovery, offering significant environmental benefits.

University of Southern California

System Testbed, Evaluation, and Architecture Metrics: STEAM

The University of Southern California (USC) will develop a framework and testbed for evaluating proposed photonic and optical-electronic interconnect technologies, such as those developed under the ARPA-E ENLITENED program. These new approaches will develop novel network topologies enabled by integrated photonics technologies, which use light instead of electricity to transmit information. USC's effort aims to offer an impartial assessment of these emerging datacenter concepts and architectures and their ability to reduce overall power consumption in a meaningful way. The team will focus on developing architecture specifications and models to assess the effects of photonic project components on system performance and efficiency, making it possible to quantify the potential energy reduction in datacenters. Specifically, they will simulate the impact on overall energy efficiency of dramatically different traffic, loading, and architectural configurations and then identify how individual new technologies such as optical components, optical switches, and transceivers, affect efficiency. The team expects that capabilities and facilities influenced by the project will form the basis of a national facility for evaluating new concepts for datacenter operations and the role of photonics in those systems.

University of Texas, Austin

Low-Cost Solution Processed Universal Smart Window Coatings

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is developing low-cost coatings that control how light enters buildings through windows. By individually blocking infrared and visible components of sunlight, UT Austin's design would allow building occupants to better control the amount of heat and the brightness of light that enters the structure, saving heating, cooling, and lighting costs. These coatings can be applied to windows using inexpensive techniques similar to spray-painting a car to keep the cost per window low. Windows incorporating these coatings and a simple control system have the potential to dramatically enhance energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption throughout the commercial and residential building sectors, while making building occupants more comfortable.

University of Texas, Dallas

Double-Stator Switched Reluctance Motor Technology

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is developing a unique electric motor with the potential to efficiently power future classes of EVs and renewable power generators. Unlike many of today's best electric motors--which contain permanent magnets that use expensive, imported rare earths--UT Dallas' motor completely eliminates the use of rare earth materials. Additionally, the motor contains two stators. The stator is the stationary part of the motor that uses electromagnetism to help its rotor spin and generate power. The double-stator design has the potential to generate very high power densities at substantially lower cost than existing motors. In addition, this design can operate under higher temperatures and in more rugged environments. This project will focus on manufacturing and testing of a 100 kW motor with emphasis on low cost manufacturing for future use in EVs and renewable power generators.

University of Utah

A Novel Chemical Pathway for Titanium Production

The University of Utah is developing a reactor that dramatically simplifies titanium production compared to conventional processes. Today's production processes are expensive and inefficient because they require several high-energy melting steps to separate titanium from its ores. The University of Utah's reactor utilizes a magnesium hydride solution as a reducing agent to break less expensive titanium ore into its components in a single step. By processing low-grade ore directly, the titanium can be chemically isolated from other impurities. This design eliminates the series of complex, high-energy melting steps associated with current titanium production. Consolidating several energy intensive steps into one reduces both the cost and energy inputs associated with titanium extraction.

University of Utah

Electrodynamic Sorting of Light Metals and Alloys

The University of Utah is developing a light metal sorting system that can distinguish multiple grades of scrap metal using an adjustable and varying magnetic field. Current sorting technologies based on permanent magnets can only separate light metals from iron-based metals and tend to be inefficient and expensive. The University of Utah's sorting technology utilizes an adjustable magnetic field rather than a permanent magnet to automate scrap sorting, which could offer increased accuracy, less energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions, and reduced costs. Due to the flexibility of this design, the system could be set to sort for any one metal at a time rather than being limited to sorting for a specific metal.

University of Virginia

Reinventing Cement Using Carbonation of Mineral Silicates

The University of Virginia (U.Va.), in collaboration with C-Crete Technologies, is developing a new approach for making cement by leveraging the ways in which certain mineral silicates react with carbon dioxide and water. These reactions produce mineral phases that are much stronger and more stable than commercial cements, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and energy use over time. Chemically, the products of these reactions share more in common with ancient Roman cements than they do with OPC. Because of the temperatures and pressures required to make these materials, the project will initially target the pre-cast structures market, which represents 10-20% of the global cement market. This project's objectives are to identify inexpensive mineral feedstocks and industrial waste materials (e.g., flue gas from coal-fired power production, fly ash, and slag from municipal solid waste incineration) to produce these novel cementitious materials at scale, and optimize their reaction and curing conditions to result in strong, durable pre-cast structures.

University of Wisconsin

Accelerated Materials Design for Molten Salt Technologies Using Innovative High-Throughput Methods

The University of Wisconsin's integrated toolset seeks to expedite molten salt materials development for technology by two orders of magnitude, compared with current methods. The team will combine advances in additive manufacturing, in-place testing for materials/salt compatibility, new molten salt-resistant mini-electrode designs, and machine learning algorithms to optimize and accelerate identification of molten salt corrosion-resistant materials. Those materials can be used in energy applications including molten salt nuclear reactors, concentrated solar plants, and thermal storage.

University of Wisconsin

Optimized Air-Side Heat Transfer Surfaces via Advance Additive Manufacturing

The University of Wisconsin (UW-Madison) and its partner Oak Ridge National Laboratory will develop enabling technologies for low-cost, high-performance air-cooled heat exchangers. The objective is to create an optimization algorithm in order to identify and design a novel heat exchanger topology with very high heat transfer performance. The team also plans to develop a high-thermal conductivity polymer composite filament that can be used in additive manufacturing (3D printing) to produce the high-performance heat exchanger design. Due to the design freedom enabled by additive manufacturing, the team plans to develop 3D heat exchanger geometries that optimize heat transfer and decrease the total footprint required for an air-cooled system. Both of these innovations could enhance air-side heat transfer and improve the efficiency and cost of heat exchangers.

University of Wisconsin

WBG-Enabled Current-Source Inverters for Integrated PM Machine Drives

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and its project team will develop new integrated motor drives (IMDs) using current-source inverters (CSIs). Recent advances in both silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) wide-bandgap semiconductor devices make these power switches well-suited for the selected CSI topology that the team plans to integrate into high-efficiency electric motors with spinning permanent magnets. The objective is to take advantage of the special performance characteristics of the technology to increase the penetration of variable-speed drives into heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) applications. Many of the HVAC installations in the U.S. residential and commercial sectors still use constant-speed motors even though there is a well-recognized potential for major energy savings available by converting them to variable-speed operation. If successful, the new IMDs will be capable of producing significant energy savings in a wide variety of industrial, commercial, and residential applications ranging from air conditioners to pumps and compressors.

Valparaiso University

Solar Thermal Electrolytic Production of Mg from MgO

Valparaiso University is developing a solar electro-thermal reactor that produces magnesium from magnesium oxide. Current magnesium production processes involve high-temperature steps that consume large amounts of energy. Valparaiso's reactor would extract magnesium using concentrated solar power to supply its thermal energy, minimizing the need for electricity. The reactor would be surrounded by mirrors that track the sun and capture heat for high-temperature magnesium electrolysis. Because Valparaiso's reactor is powered by solar energy as opposed to burning fossil fuels, integrating magnesium production into the solar reactor would significantly reduce CO2 emissions associated with magnesium production.

Vanderbilt University

Bipolar Membranes with an Electrospun 3D Junction

The Vanderbilt University team will develop a new bipolar membrane featuring a three-dimensional water splitting or water formation junction region, prepared by an electrospinning process. The team's membrane will allow for higher current density operation as compared to conventional BPMs while maintining a low operating voltage, long-term durability, and high separation efficiency. These membranes will be useful in electrodialysis, electrolysis, and fuel cell applications.

Via Separations, Inc.

Scalable Graphene Oxide Membranes for Energy-Efficient Chemical Separations

Via Separations will work to develop a membrane platform made from highly robust sheets of graphene-oxide, a material known for its versatility, mechanical strength and relative thermal stability. These sheets will be tailored for specific chemical separation applications to replace conventional, energy-intensive industrial chemical separation processes. Through novelchemistries and innovative system-level intgeration, the proposed membrane platform promises a tunable molecular filtration capability and is highly resistant to chemical degradation. The team will demonstrate cost-effective, highly selective, and high-throughput membranes applicable to high-value, high-impact separations. When implemented at scale, these membranes could signbificantly reduce the energy consumption of industrial separations processes, total costs, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Discovery & Design of Novel Permanent Magnets Using Non-Strategic Elements Having Secure Supply Chains

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is developing a new magnet for use in renewable power generators and EV motors that requires no rare earth minerals. Rare earths are difficult and expensive to process, but they make electric motors and generators smaller, lighter, and more efficient. VCU would replace the rare earth minerals in EV motor magnets with a low-cost and abundant carbon-based compound that resembles a fine black powder. This new magnet could demonstrate the same level of performance as the best commercial magnets available today at a significantly lower cost. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new magnet in a prototype electric motor.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Fabrication of Inexpensive Aerogel Panes for Window Retrofit

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will develop innovative methods to produce aerogel-on-glass windowpanes for window retrofits. Silica aerogels are porous materials that can be used to control heat transfer across windows. However, widespread use of silica aerogels in windows has been limited by their mechanical fragility, difficulties with transparency, and high manufacturing costs. The team will use newly developed cross-linked aerogels that significantly improve the mechanical strength and durability of aerogels. Aerogels are typically produced through either air drying or supercritical drying. Air drying is inexpensive, but induces stresses that can lead to fragmentation. Supercritical drying is superior, but is expensive. VCU will employ an alternative drying method, freeze drying, in which the material is frozen and ice is sublimated off. VCU estimates that aerogel production using freeze drying can cut production costs by about 40% compared to supercritical drying. VCU's aerogel material would be placed between a glass pane and polycarbonate films to produce an effective windowpane for single-pane window retrofits.

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