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Electricity Generation and Delivery

Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology

In today's increasingly electrified world, power conversion--the process of converting electricity between different currents, voltage levels, and frequencies--forms a vital link between the electronic devices we use every day and the sources of power required to run them. The projects that make up ARPA-E's ADEPT program, short for "Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology," are paving the way for more energy efficient power conversion and advancing the basic building blocks of power conversion: circuits, transistors, inductors, transformers, and capacitors.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Accelerating Low-Cost Plasma Heating and Assembly

Fusion energy holds the promise of cheap, clean power production, but up to now scientists have been unable to successfully harness fusion as a power source due to complex scientific and technological challenges and the high cost of research. ARPA-E's ALPHA program seeks to create and demonstrate tools to aid in the development of new, lower-cost pathways to fusion power and to enable more rapid progress in fusion research and development.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's AMPED Program, short for "Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices," seek to develop advanced sensing, control, and power management technologies that redefine the way we think about battery management. Energy storage can significantly improve U.S. energy independence, efficiency, and security by enabling a new generation of electric vehicles. While rapid progress is being made in new battery materials and storage technologies, few innovations have emerged in the management of advanced battery systems. AMPED aims to unlock enormous untapped potential in the performance, safety, and lifetime of today's commercial battery systems exclusively through system-level innovations, and is thus distinct from existing efforts to enhance underlying battery materials and architectures.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Breakthroughs Enabling THermonuclear-Fusion Energy

Breakthroughs Enabling THermonuclear-fusion Energy (BETHE) supports the development of timely, commercially viable fusion energy. Building on recent progress in fusion research and synergies with the growing private fusion industry, this program aims to deliver a larger number of higher maturity, lower cost fusion options via three research categories: (1) Concept Development to advance the performance of inherently lower cost but less mature fusion concepts; (2) Component Technology Development that could significantly reduce the capital cost of higher cost, more mature fusion concepts; and (3) Capability Teams to improve/adapt and apply existing capabilities (e.g., theory/modeling, machine learning, or engineering design/fabrication) to accelerate the development of multiple concepts. BETHE’s technology-to-market component aims to build and smooth the path to fusion commercialization to include public, private, and philanthropic partnerships.

Building Reliable Electronics to Achieve Kilovolt Effective Ratings Safely

Recent advances in hardware for handling direct current (DC) electricity have created an opportunity to greatly improve the efficiency, security, and safety of the U.S. power system while supporting new industries and grid design options. There remains, however, a significant technology gap in the safety and protection mechanisms required to mitigate potentially damaging faults in these systems. The projects that comprise ARPA-E's BREAKERS (Building Reliable Electronics to Achieve Kilovolt Effective Ratings Safely) program will develop novel technologies for medium voltage direct current (MVDC) circuit breakers, applicable to markets including electrified transportation, MVDC grid distribution, renewable interconnections, and offshore oil, gas, and wind production. Project teams will either develop transformational improvements to conventional DC circuit breakers (i.e., mechanical, solid state, hybrid) or construct circuit breakers based on completely novel designs. These systems must achieve program goals of handling a voltage between 1 - 100 kV DC and power above 1 MW at extremely high efficiencies and fast response times.

Cycling Hardware to Analyze and Ready Grid-Scale Electricity Storage

Methods for storing electricity for the electric power system (i.e. the grid) are developing rapidly, but widespread adoption of these technologies requires real-world data about their performance, economic benefit, and long-term reliability. The CHARGES program, short for "Cycling Hardware to Analyze and Ready Grid-Scale Electricity Storage," establishes two sites where ARPA-E-funded battery technologies will be tested under conditions designed to represent not just today's applications, but also the demands of tomorrow's electric power system. The program will establish realistic duty cycles for storage devices on a microgrid, and test them in both a controlled environment and under realistic microgrid operating conditions. The objective of the CHARGES program is to accelerate the commercialization of electrochemical energy storage systems developed in current and past ARPA-E-funded research efforts. The program aims to help ARPA-E-funded battery development teams improve their storage technologies to deliver substantial economic benefit under real-world conditions, both now and in the future.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors

Development of advanced power electronics with unprecedented functionality, efficiency, reliability, and reduced form factor will provide the United States a critical technological advantage in an increasingly electrified world economy. The projects that comprise ARPA E's CIRCUITS (Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors) program seek to accelerate the development and deployment of a new class of efficient, lightweight, and reliable power converters, based on wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. CIRCUITS projects will establish the building blocks of this class of power converter by advancing higher efficiency designs that exhibit enhanced reliability and superior total cost of ownership. In addition, a reduced form factor (size and weight) will drive adoption of higher performance and more efficient power converters relative to today's state-of-the-art systems. Past ARPA-E programs have focused on challenges associated with fabricating WBG high-performance switching devices. Program developments led to a new generation of devices that operate at much higher powers, voltages, frequencies, and temperatures than traditional silicon-based semiconductor devices. CIRCUITS projects will build on these earlier ARPA-E programs by designing circuit topologies optimally suited for WBG attributes to maximize overall electrical system performance. Innovations stemming from CIRCUITS projects have the potential to affect high-impact applications wherever electrical power is generated or used, including the electric grid, industrial motor controllers, automotive electrification, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, solar and wind power systems, datacenters, aerospace control surfaces, wireless power transfer, and consumer electronics.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Duration Addition to electricitY Storage

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's DAYS (Duration Addition to electricitY Storage) program will develop energy storage systems that provide power to the electric grid for durations of 10 to approximately 100 hours, opening significant new opportunities to increase grid resilience and performance. Whereas most new energy storage systems today deliver power over limited durations, for example to alleviate transmission congestion, stabilize voltage and frequency levels, or provide intra-day shifts of energy, the extended discharge times of DAYS projects will enable a new set of applications including long-lasting backup power and even greater integration of domestic, renewable energy resources.Project teams will seek to develop storage systems that are deployable in almost any location and charge and discharge electricity at a target fixed cost per cycle. Projects will fall into two categories: 1) DAYS systems that provide daily cycling in addition to longer duration, less frequent cycling and 2) DAYS systems that do not provide daily cycling, but can take over when daily cycling resources are either filled or depleted. DAYS projects will explore a new design space in electricity storage that allows for strategic compromise of performance to achieve extremely low costs. The program also seeks to establish new paradigms for increasing stored energy and extending duration of stationary electricity storage systems.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

FLExible Carbon Capture and Storage

The objective of the FLExible Carbon Capture and Storage (FLECCS) program is to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that enable power generators to be responsive to grid conditions in a high variable renewable energy (VRE) penetration environment. This includes retrofits to existing power generators as well as greenfield systems with a carbon-containing fuel input and electricity as an output (i.e., a “black box” in which the nature of the fuel-to-electricity conversion process is not prescribed). The value of such CCS technologies will be evaluated by their impact on system-wide levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) in modeled net-zero carbon electricity grids, as determined by a range of possible future scenarios in capacity expansion models. However, ARPA-E does not expect every CCS technology in FLECCS to be a net-zero carbon process. FLECCS technologies will provide flexible and economical assets for future low- and zero-carbon electricity systems. The cost and performance of each project will be evaluated in the context of a net-zero carbon system that may include negative emission assets. Recent work suggests that a system LCOE of $75/MWh for a net-zero carbon electricity system is possible.  FLECCS is a 2-phase program. Phase 1 focuses on designing and optimizing innovative CCS processes that enable flexibility on a high-VRE grid. Phase 1 will last for approximately 15 months and include approximately $7 million in Federal funding. Based on the output of the individual projects, engineering design review, and capacity expansion analysis, ARPA-E will select projects to continue to the next phase. Phase 2 will focus on building components, unit operations, and small prototype systems to reduce the technical risk and cost associated with these CCS systems. This phase will last for approximately 3 years and have a total budget of approximately $36 million in Federal funding.

Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight

High utilization of renewable energy is a vital component of our energy portfolio. Solar energy systems can provide secure energy with predictable future costs--largely unaffected by geopolitics and climate--because sunshine is widely available and free. The projects that comprise ARPA-E's FOCUS program, short for "Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight," could pave the way for cost-competitive hybrid solar energy systems that combine the advantages of existing photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets

Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) aims to develop digital twin technology for advanced nuclear reactors and transform operations and maintenance (O&M) systems in the next generation of nuclear power plants. ARPA-E is looking for interdisciplinary teams to develop digital twins, or a similar technology, for an advanced reactor design as the foundation of their O&M strategy. Performers will design tools that introduce greater flexibility in reactor systems, increased autonomy in operations, and faster design iteration. The goal is to create a 10x reduction in O&M costs at advanced reactor power plants, thereby improving their economic competitiveness. To accomplish this, teams will apply diverse technologies that are driving efficiencies in other industries, such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced control systems, predictive maintenance, and model-based fault detection. Projects will focus on O&M solutions for the reactor core, balance of plant (BOP), or entire reactor plant system (including both the reactor core and BOP). Because advanced reactors are still in design phase, with no physical units operating, teams working on core operations will also develop cyber-physical systems that simulate advanced reactor core operating dynamics using a combination of non-nuclear experimental facilities (e.g., test or flow loops) and software. Teams will use these systems as the “real asset,” a surrogate to test their digital twin platforms.

Green Electricity Network Integration

The projects in ARPA-E's GENI program, short for "Green Electricity Network Integration," aim to modernize the way electricity is transmitted in the U.S. through advances in hardware and software for the electric grid. These advances will improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transmission, increase the amount of renewable energy the grid can utilize, and provide energy suppliers and consumers with greater control over their power flows in order to better manage peak power demand and cost.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Generators for Small Electrical and Thermal Systems

The GENSETS program aims to develop transformative generator technologies to enable widespread deployment of residential combined heat and power (CHP) systems. These small, natural gas-fueled systems can fulfill most of a US household's electricity and hot water needs, and if widely used could increase the overall efficiency of power generation in the US, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Grid Optimization (GO) Competition

ARPA-E's Grid Optimization (GO) Competition comprises a series of prize challenges to accelerate the development and comprehensive evaluation of new software solutions for tomorrow's electric grid. Key areas for development include but are not limited to optimal utilization of conventional and emerging technologies, management of dynamic grid operations (including extreme event response and restoration), and management of millions of emerging distributed energy resources (DER).Challenge 1The first challenge of the GO Competition is an algorithm competition to develop solutions to the electric power sector's security-constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF) problem. Optimal power flow requires determining generator settings that best enable power to be routed to customers across a complex grid in a reliable and cost-effective manner. Algorithms will be tested on complex, realistic power system models, and participants will be scored on how well their algorithms perform relative to other competitors'. Winning teams will efficiently find a minimum-cost solution to the SCOPF problem.Additional challenges are planned beginning in 2019 in topics including DERs, intermittent resources, storage, grid resilience, grid restoration, grid dynamics, and cyber threats.

Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms

The Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms (GRID DATA) program will fund the development of large-scale, realistic, validated, and open-access power system network models. These models will have the detail required to allow the successful development and testing of transformational power system optimization and control algorithms, including new Optimal Power Flow (OPF) algorithms. Project teams will take one of two tracks to develop models. The first option is to partner with a utility to collect and then anonymize real data as the basis for a model that can be released publically. The second approach is to construct purely synthetic power system models. The program will also fund the creation of an open-access, self-sustaining repository for the storage, annotation, and curation of these power systems models, as well as others generated by the community.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's GRIDS program, short for "Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage," are developing storage technologies that can store renewable energy for use at any location on the grid at an investment cost less than $100 per kilowatt hour. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage

The projects that make up ARPA-E's HEATS program, short for "High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage," seek to develop revolutionary, cost-effective ways to store thermal energy. HEATS focuses on 3 specific areas: 1) developing high-temperature solar thermal energy storage capable of cost-effectively delivering electricity around the clock and thermal energy storage for nuclear power plants capable of cost-effectively meeting peak demand, 2) creating synthetic fuel efficiently from sunlight by converting sunlight into heat, and 3) using thermal energy storage to improve the driving range of electric vehicles (EVs) and also enable thermal management of internal combustion engine vehicles.
  For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

High Intensity Thermal Exchange through Materials, and Manufacturing Processes

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's HITEMMP (High Intensity Thermal Exchange through Materials and Manufacturing Processes) program will develop new approaches and technologies for the design and manufacture of high temperature, high pressure, efficient, and highly compact heat exchangers. Heat exchangers are critical to efficient thermal energy exchange in numerous industrial applications and everyday life, with valuable applications in electricity generation, transportation, petrochemical plants, waste heat recovery, and much more. HITEMMP projects target heat exchangers capable of operating for tens of thousands of hours in temperatures and pressures exceeding 800°C and 80 bar (1,160 psi) respectively. This new class of hardware, designed and manufactured using novel techniques, topologies, and materials, would enable far greater exchanger efficiency, thus boosting the performance of many important industrial processes.

Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science

The IDEAS program - short for Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science - provides a continuing opportunity for the rapid support of early-stage applied research to explore pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology. IDEAS awards, which are restricted to maximums of one year in duration and $500,000 in funding, are intended to be flexible and may take the form of analyses or exploratory research that provides the agency with information useful for the subsequent development of focused technology programs. IDEAS awards may also support proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the agency or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology program. This program identifies potentially disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies that challenge the status quo and represent a leap beyond today's technology. That said, an innovative concept alone is not enough. IDEAS projects must also represent a fundamentally new paradigm in energy technology and have the potential to significantly impact ARPA-E's mission areas.

Innovative Natural-gas Technologies for Efficiency Gain in Reliable and Affordable Thermochemical Electricity-generation

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's INTEGRATE (Innovative Natural-gas Technologies for Efficiency Gain in Reliable and Affordable Thermochemical Electricity-generation) program will develop natural gas fueled, distributed, ultra-high efficiency electrical generation systems. The program will focus on hybrid system designs that integrate a fuel cell with a heat or reactive engine, such as a gas turbine or a reciprocating internal combustion engine. The INTEGRATE program encourages the development and demonstration of integrated hybrid systems and/or enabling component technologies.Project teams will seek to develop devices that can generate electricity at greater than 70% efficiency while keeping system costs competitive at commercial scales of 100kW or greater. Projects will take advantage of the synergies between fuel cells and more traditional combustion engines. For example, some of the fuel that passes through a fuel cell will remain "unreacted." This leftover fuel can be used by an engine to produce combustion products that produce additional power--improving overall system efficiency. Because the engine can be used simultaneously to generate power and act as balance-of-plant for the fuel cell, eliminating the need for some components, system cost savings could be significant.

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