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Electricity Generation and Delivery

Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids

Today's growing demand for electricity from carbon-free, renewable resources and for alternatives to petroleum as a transportation fuel has led to a strong desire for cost-effective and durable energy storage and conversion products. The projects that make up ARPA-E's IONICS program, short for "Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids," are paving the way for technologies that overcome the limitations of current battery and fuel cell products by creating high performance separators and electrodes built with solid ion conductors. The program will focus on developing new processing methods and approaches to device integration to accelerate devices built with high performance ion-conducting solids to commercial deployment.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's MEITNER (Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration) program seek to identify and develop innovative technologies that can enable designs for lower cost, safer advanced nuclear reactors. These enabling technologies can establish the basis for a modern, domestic supply chain supporting nuclear technology. Projects will be improved and validated with advanced modeling and simulation tools, and project teams will have access to subject matter experts from nuclear and non-nuclear disciplines. An ARPA-E-provided Resource Team will coordinate sub-teams for modeling and simulation, techno-economic analysis, and subject matter expertise. Project teams will leverage these resources for modeling and simulation support, advanced technical information, design assistance, and information on the state of the art in relevant areas.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program are developing innovative technologies to cost-effectively and accurately locate and measure methane emissions associated with natural gas production. Such low-cost sensing systems are needed to reduce methane leaks anywhere from the wellpad to local distribution networks, reduce safety hazards, promote more efficient use of our domestic natural gas resources, and reduce the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) impact from natural gas development. In order to evaluate the performance of each MONITOR technology to locate and quantify fugitive methane emissions, the MONITOR Field Test Site will develop a representative test facility that simulates real-world natural gas operations--at the wellpad and further downstream. Specifically, the MONITOR Test Site supports the operation of a multi-user field test site for MONITOR performers to validate performance under realistic use-case scenarios--and meet the MONITOR program's required metrics related to localization, quantification, communications and cost. Data generated during the field tests will demonstrate the performance capabilities of the technologies and could be used by the MONITOR performers to accelerate the commercialization and/or regulatory approval of their technologies.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration

ARPA-E's MOSAIC program seeks to develop technologies and concepts that will lower the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems and improve their performance. Project teams will develop micro-scale concentrated photovoltaic systems (CPV) that are similar in cost and size to conventional solar PV systems, but with greatly increased performance levels. Multidisciplinary teams will leverage expertise in conventional flat-plate PV, CPV, manufacturing, optical engineering, and material science to produce a new class of PV panels. If successful, these technologies could facilitate cost-effective deployment of solar power systems across a wide range of geographical locations, lowering U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on imported energy.
 For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's MOVE Program, short for "Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy," are finding cost-effective ways to power passenger cars and other light-duty vehicles with America's abundant natural gas resources. Natural gas is currently less expensive than gasoline, and produces fewer harmful emissions than any other fossil fuel. Despite these advantages, significant technological and infrastructure barriers currently limit the use of natural gas as a major fuel source in the U.S. ARPA-E's MOVE projects are finding innovative ways to break through these barriers, creating practical and affordable natural gas storage tanks for passenger cars and quick-filling at-home refueling stations.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems

The Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) Program aspires to enable renewables penetration at the 50% level or greater, by developing transformational grid management and control methods to create a virtual energy storage system based on use of flexible load and distributed energy resources (DERs). The challenge is to cost-effectively and reliably manage dynamic changes in the grid by leveraging these additional grid resources, while maintaining customer quality of service. The expected benefits include reduced periods of costly peak demand, reduced energy waste and increased penetration of renewable energy production. The NODES Program will bring together different scientific communities such as power systems, control systems, computer science, and distributed systems to accelerate the development of new technologies enabling active control of load and DERs in coordination with the grid.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2009, ARPA-E issued an open call for the most revolutionary energy technologies to form the agency's inaugural program. The first open solicitation was open to ideas from all energy areas and focused on funding projects already equipped with strong research and development plans for their potentially high-impact technologies. The projects chosen received a level of financial support that could accelerate technical progress and catalyze additional investment from the private sector. After only 2 months, ARPA-E's investment in these projects catalyzed an additional $33 million in investments. In response to ARPA-E's first open solicitation, more than 3,700 concept papers flooded into the new agency, which were thoroughly reviewed by a team of 500 scientists and engineers in just 6 months. In the end, 36 projects were selected as ARPA-E's first award recipients, receiving $176 million in federal funding.
 For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2012, ARPA-E issued its second open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 4,000 concept papers for OPEN 2012, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 66 projects for its OPEN 2012 program, awarding them a total of $130 million in federal funding. OPEN 2012 projects cut across 11 technology areas: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, stationary power generation, water, as well as stationary, thermal, and transportation energy storage.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2015, ARPA-E issued its third open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 2,000 concept papers for OPEN 2015, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 41 projects for its OPEN 2015 program, awarding them a total of $125 million in federal funding. OPEN 2015 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, industrial processes and waste heat, data management and communication, wind, solar, tidal and distributed generation, grid scale storage, power electronics, power grid system performance, vehicle efficiency, storage for electric vehicles, and alternative fuels and bio-energy.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2018, ARPA-E issued its fourth open funding opportunity, designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received thousands of concept papers for OPEN 2018, which hundreds of scientists and engineers reviewed over the course of several months. ARPA-E selected 45 projects for its OPEN 2018 program, awarding them $112 million in federal funding. OPEN 2018 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, distributed generation, electrical efficiency, grid, grid storage, manufacturing efficiency, resource efficiency, transportation fuels, transportation energy conversion, and transportation vehicles.

Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's REACT program, short for "Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies", are developing cost-effective alternatives to rare earths, the naturally occurring minerals with unique magnetic properties that are used in electric vehicle (EV) motors and wind generators. The REACT projects will identify low-cost and abundant replacement materials for rare earths while encouraging existing technologies to use them more efficiently. These alternatives would facilitate the widespread use of EVs and wind power, drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
  For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems

Fuel cell technologies have been touted for decades due to their high chemical-to-electrical conversion efficiencies and potential for near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel cell technologies for power generation have not achieved widespread adoption, however, due primarily to their high cost relative to more established combustion technologies. There is a critical need to develop fuel cell technologies that can enable distributed power generation at low cost and high performance. The projects that comprise ARPA-E's Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems (REBELS) program include transformational fuel cell devices that operate in an intermediate temperature range in an attempt to create new pathways to achieve an installed cost to the end-user of less than $1,500/kW at moderate production volumes and create new fuel cell functionality that will help increase grid stability and integration of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems

SHARKS seeks to develop new technical pathways to design economically competitive Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) for tidal and riverine currents. These renewable energy resources are highly reliable, forecastable, and typically co-located with demand centers. HKTs are suited for both micro-grids that supply energy to remote communities without grid connections and utility-scale grid-connected applications. Despite these attractive qualities, current HKTs are too expensive for deployment due to technical challenges and harsh operational environments. This program seeks to fund new holistic HKT designs to reduce significantly their levelized cost of energy (LCOE). SHARKS encourages the application of control co-design (CCD), co-design (CD), and designing for operation and maintenance (DFO) methodologies. These three methodologies require a wide range of disciplines to work concurrently, as opposed to sequentially, during the concept design stage. In addition, technical and environmental challenges inhibiting the convergence of HKT designs require expertise from various scientific and engineering fields, necessitating the use of multi-disciplinary teams. These teams may include experts in hydrodynamics, mechanical design, materials, hydro-structural interactions, turbine and/or turbine array efficiency, system-level control solutions, power electronics, grid connection, numerical modeling, computer tools, and experimental validation. Projects will need to reduce the LCOE through multiple approaches, including increasing generation efficiency, increasing rotor area per unit of equivalent mass, lowering operation and maintenance costs, minimizing potential negative impacts on the surrounding environment, and maximizing system reliability among others. SHARKS is expected to span three years with $38M in funded projects.

1366 Technologies, Inc.

1366 Direct Wafer: Enabling Terawatt Photovoltaics

1366 Technologies is developing a process to reduce the cost of solar electricity by up to 50% by 2020--from $0.15 per kilowatt hour to less than $0.07. 1366's process avoids the costly step of slicing a large block of silicon crystal into wafers, which turns half the silicon to dust. Instead, the company is producing thin wafers directly from molten silicon at industry-standard sizes, and with efficiencies that compare favorably with today's state-of-the-art technologies. 1366's wafers could directly replace wafers currently on the market, so there would be no interruptions to the delivery of these products to market. As a result of 1366's technology, the cost of silicon wafers could be reduced by 80%.

ABB, Inc.

Economical Data-fused Grid Edge Processor (EDGEPRO) for Future Distribution Grid Control Applications

ABB Inc. will design a low-cost, secure, and flexible next-generation grid service platform to improve grid efficiency and reliability. This technology will merge advanced edge computing, data fusion and machine learning techniques for virtual metering, and create a central repository for grid applications such as distributed energy resource (DER) control and others on one platform. The united platform will consist of four functional layers: (1) communication including data collection and exchange, (2) data processing and distributed state estimation, (3) data standardization and storage, and (4) hosted grid applications designed to enable large-scale deployment of DERs and more flexible grid control. ABB's approach will integrate and maximize emerging technologies in the transition to a decentralized and distributed electric grid.

ABB, Inc.

Superconducting Magnet Energy Storage System with Direct Power Electronics Interface

ABB is developing an advanced energy storage system using superconducting magnets that could store significantly more energy than today's best magnetic storage technologies at a fraction of the cost. This system could provide enough storage capacity to encourage more widespread use of renewable power like wind and solar. Superconducting magnetic energy storage systems have been in development for almost 3 decades; however, past devices were designed to supply power only for short durations--generally less than a few minutes. ABB's system would deliver the stored energy at very low cost, making it ideal for eventual use in the electricity grid as a cost-effective competitor to batteries and other energy storage technologies. The device could potentially cost even less, on a per kilowatt basis, than traditional lead-acid batteries.

Abengoa Solar, LLC

High Efficiency Solar-Electric Conversion Power Tower

Abengoa Solar is developing a high-efficiency solar-electric conversion tower to enable low-cost, fully dispatchable solar energy generation. Abengoa's conversion tower utilizes new system architecture and a two-phase thermal energy storage media with an efficient supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) power cycle. The company is using a high-temperature heat-transfer fluid with a phase change in between its hot and cold operating temperature. The fluid serves as a heat storage material and is cheaper and more efficient than conventional heat-storage materials, like molten salt. It also allows the use of a high heat flux solar receiver, advanced high thermal energy density storage, and more efficient power cycles.

Accio Energy, Inc.

EHD Innovative Low-Cost Offshore Wind Energy

The team led by Accio Energy will develop an ElectroHydroDynamic (EHD) system that harvests energy from the wind through physical separation of charge rather than through rotation of an electric machine. The EHD technology entrains a mist of positively charged water droplets into the wind, which pulls the charge away from the electrically-grounded tower, thereby directly converting wind energy into a mounting voltage. The resulting High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) can then be transferred across higher efficiency power lines without the need for a generator, a gearbox, or costly high power AC-DC conversion required by traditional wind energy systems. The simple design of the EHD wind system is highly modular, and can be built with low-cost, mass manufacturing approaches. EHD systems also have minimal moving parts, and can be "containerized" for easy transport and installation at offshore sites. In contrast to the current trend for larger (and relatively expensive) turbines with increased power-per-tower, the EHD approach would utilize low-cost hardware with simple transport and installation, and native HVDC operation to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind. EHD technology can also operate at lower wind velocities than traditional turbines, and can thus increase the capacity factor at locations with highly variable winds. If successful, this project will demonstrate EHD technology as an entirely new option for offshore wind that offers a different path to cost effective utilization of a large renewable resource.

Aerodyne Research, Inc.

Single-Cylinder Two-Stroke Free-Piston Internal Combustion Generator

Aerodyne Research with partners from Stony Brook University, Precision Combustion, Inc., and C-K Engineering, Inc. will design and build a CHP generator based on a small single-cylinder, two-stroke free-piston internal combustion engine. Similar to an automotive internal combustion engine, the proposed system follows the same process: the combustion of natural gas fuel creates a force that moves a piston, transferring chemical energy to mechanical energy used in conjunction with a linear alternator to create electricity. The free-piston configuration used here, instead of a traditional slider-crank mechanism, has the potential to achieve high electrical conversion efficiency. Their design also includes a double-helix spring that replaces the crankshaft flywheel in conventional engines and can store 5-10 times the work output of the engine cycle and operates at high frequency, which is key to high energy density, compact size, low weight, and low cost. The system will also incorporate low temperature, glow plug-assisted homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) combustion, which reduces heat loss from the engine and further increases efficiency.

Air Squared Inc.

A High Efficiency SACI 1 kW Generator System with Integrated Waste Energy Recovery

Air Squared with partners at Argonne National Laboratory, Purdue University, and Mississippi State University, will develop an advanced internal combustion engine (ICE) integrated with an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) for waste heat recovery. The ICE will use spark-assisted compression ignition (SACI) combustion, a turbulent jet ignition (TJI) fueling system, a high compression ratio, and aggressive exhaust gas recirculation to deliver a higher thermal efficiency with low emissions. Traditional internal combustion engines use the force generated by the combustion of a fuel (e.g. natural gas) to move a piston, transferring chemical energy to mechanical energy. This can then be used in conjunction with a generator to create electricity. SACI is an advanced combustion technique that uses a homogeneous mixture of fuel and air with spark assist to enable higher thermal efficiencies and lower emissions. The TJI combustion system further increases thermal efficiency by enabling reliable SACI combustion even with ultra-lean mixtures (i.e. high air to fuel ratio). The ORC design uses mostly the same components of a traditional Rankine cycle, but uses an ammonia/water mixture instead of steam, combined with a novel oil-free scroll expander.


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