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Electricity Generation and Delivery

Panasonic R&D Company of America

Low Profile CPV Panel with Sun Tracking for Rooftop Installation

Panasonic Boston Laboratory will develop a micro-CPV system that features a micro-tracking subsystem. This micro-tracking subsystem will eliminate the need for bulky trackers, allowing fixed mounting of the panel. The micro-tracking allows individual lenses containing PV cells to move within the panel. As the sun moves throughout the day, the lenses align themselves to the best position to receive sunlight, realizing the efficiency advantages of CPV without the cumbersome tilting of the entire panel. The Panasonic Boston Laboratory team will examine a number of methods to allow the individual lenses to track the sunlight. Each panel will be comparable in thickness and cost to a traditional FPV panel.

Pennsylvania State University

Integration of Sensors through Additive Manufacturing Leading to Increased Efficiencies of Gas Turbines for Power Generation and Propulsion

Pennsylvania State University is developing a novel manufacturing process that prints integrated sensors into complex systems such as gas turbine hot section parts for real time monitoring. Incorporating these durable, integrated sensors into the geometry would provide critical knowledge of key operating conditions such as temperature of key components and their thermal heat fluxes. These sensors enable the unique possibility to gain direct knowledge of critical parameters currently inferred with only varying degrees of success. This innovation--developed in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology, CVD MesoScribe Technologies Corporation, Siemens, and United Technologies Corporation--will enable condition-based maintenance and find use in myriad applications, from energy production to aircraft propulsion.

Pennsylvania State University

Wide-Angle Planar Microtracking Microcell Concentrating Photovoltaics

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), along with their partner organizations, will develop a high efficiency micro-CPV system that features the same flat design of traditional solar panels, but with nearly twice the efficiency. The system is divided into three layers. The top and bottom layers use a refractive/reflective pair of tiny spherical lens arrays to focus sunlight onto a micro-CPV cell array in the center layer. The micro-CPV arrays will be printed on a transparent sheet that slides laterally between the top and bottom layer to ensure that the maximum amount of sunlight is delivered to the micro-PV cell throughout the day. Advanced manufacturing using high-throughput printing techniques will help reduce the cost of the micro-CPV cell arrays and allow the team to create five-junction micro-PV cells that can absorb a broader range of light and promote greater efficiency. By concentrating and focusing sunlight on a specific advanced micro-PV cell, the system can achieve much higher efficiency than standard FPV panels, while maintaining a similar flat panel architecture.

PingThings Inc.

A National Infrastructure for Artificial Intelligence on the Grid

PingThings will develop a national infrastructure for analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) on the power grid using a three-pronged approach. First, a scalable, cloud-based platform will store, process, analyze, and visualize grid sensor data. Second, massive open and accessible datasets will be created through (a) deploying grid sensors to capture wide-scale and localized grid behavior, (b) simulating and executing grid models to generate virtual sensor data, and (c) establishing a secure data exchange mechanism. Third, a diverse research community will be developed through focused educational content, online code sharing, and data and AI competitions. The project's goal is to accelerate the development of data-driven use cases to improve grid operation and analysis.

PolyPlus Battery Company

A Revolutionary Approach to High-Energy Density, Low-Cost Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

PolyPlus Battery Company is developing an innovative, water-based Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) battery. Today, Li-S battery technology offers the lightest high-energy batteries that are completely self-contained. New features in these water-based batteries make PolyPlus' lightweight battery ideal for a variety of military and consumer applications. The design could achieve energy densities between 400-600 Wh/kg, a substantial improvement from today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion batteries that can hold only 150 Wh/kg. PolyPlus' technology--with applications for vehicle transportation as well as grid storage--would be able to transition to a widespread commercial and military market.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

Continuous Detonation Engine Combustor for Natural Gas Turbines

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) is developing a new combustor for gas turbine engines that uses shockwaves for more efficient combustion through a process known as continuous detonation. These combustors would enable more electricity to be generated from a given amount of natural gas, increasing the efficiency of gas turbine engines while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. PWR will design and build continuous detonation combustors and test them in a simulated gas turbine environment to demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating the technology into natural gas-fueled turbine electric power generators.

Primus Power

Low-Cost, High-Performance 50-Year Electrodes

Primus Power is developing zinc-based, rechargeable liquid flow batteries that could produce substantially more energy at lower cost than conventional batteries. A flow battery is similar to a conventional battery, except instead of storing its energy inside the cell it stores that energy for future use in chemicals that are kept in tanks that sit outside the cell. One of the most costly components in a flow battery is the electrode, where the electrochemical reactions actually occur. Primus Power is investigating and developing mixed-metal materials for their electrodes that could ultimately reduce the lifetime cost of flow batteries because they are more durable and long-lasting than electrodes found in traditional batteries. Using these electrodes, Primus Power's flow batteries can be grouped together into robust, containerized storage pods for use by utilities, renewable energy developers, businesses, and campuses.

Primus Power

Minimal Overhead Storage Technology for Duration Addition to Electricity StorageAWARD: $3,235,764

The Primus Power team will work with the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center to develop a long-duration grid energy storage solution that leverages a new approach to the zinc bromine battery, a popular chemistry for flow batteries. Taking advantage of the way zinc and bromine behave in the cell, the battery will eliminate the need for a separator to keep the reactants apart when charged, as well as allow all the electrolyte to be stored in a single tank, instead of multiple cells. This reduction in "balance of plant" hardware will reduce system cost.

Princeton Fusion Systems

Novel RF Plasma Heating for Low-Radioactivity Compact Fusion Devices

Princeton Fusion Systems seeks to develop technologies to enable future commercial fusion power. The team's PFRC concept is a small, clean, and portable design based on a field-reversed-configuration plasma. The concept uses an innovative method called odd-parity rotating-magnetic-field (RMF) heating to drive electrical current and heat plasma to fusion temperatures. Odd-parity heating holds the potential to heat ions and electrons to fusion-relevant temperatures in a stable, sustained plasma, while maintaining good energy confinement. The team will pursue improved electron and ion temperatures through odd-parity RMF heating, as well as identify the modeling needed to elucidate the key heating and loss mechanisms for their fusion concept. The team's proposed power plant design seeks a very small footprint for a compact, potentially transportable energy source that is fully deployable and emissions-free. When completed, PFRC-2 will demonstrate the core physics for the PFRC-type commercial reactor that will lead to the rapid development of a proof-of-concept machine.

Princeton University

Fast Electrochemical Acoustic Signal Interrogation for Battery Lifetime Extrapolation

Princeton University is developing a non-invasive, low-cost, ultrasonic diagnostic system to determine battery state-of-health and state-of-charge, and to monitor internal battery defects. This system links the propagation of sound waves through a battery to the material properties of components within the battery. As a battery is cycled, the density and mechanical properties of its electrodes change; as the battery ages, it experiences progressive formation and degradation of critical surface layers, mechanical degradation of electrodes, and consumption of electrolyte. All of these phenomena affect how the sound waves pass through the battery. There are very few sensing techniques available that can be used during battery production and operation which can quickly identify changes or faults within the battery as they occur. As an ARPA-E IDEAS project, this early stage research project will provide proof of concept for the sensing technique and build a database of acoustic signatures for different battery chemistries, form factors, and use conditions. If successful, this ultrasonic diagnostic system will improve battery quality, safety, and performance of electric vehicle and grid energy storage systems via two avenues: (1) more thorough and efficient cell screening during production, and (2) physically relevant information for more informed battery management strategies.

ProsumerGrid, Inc.

Distribution System Operator Simulation Studio

ProsumerGrid, with its partners, will develop a highly specialized and interactive software tool capable of simulating the operation of emerging DSOs at the physical, information, and market levels while capturing the interactions among the various market participants. The software will offer electricity industry analysts, engineers, economists, and policy makers a "design studio environment" in which various propositions of participant roles, market rules, business processes, and services exchange can be studied to achieve a robust DSO design. The software will utilize a powerful decentralized decision-making algorithm, and extend state-of-the-art grid solvers with the ability to develop DER scheduling, DSO market rules, and energy service transactions. The tool could ensure correctness and reduce risk in upcoming regulatory decisions as various states move towards the formation of DSOs.

Proton Energy Systems

Dual Mode Energy Conversion and Storage Flow Battery

Proton Energy Systems will develop a hydrogen-iron flow battery that can generate hydrogen for use and energy storage on the electric grid. This dual-purpose device can be recharged using renewable grid electricity and either store the hydrogen or run in reverse, as a flow cell battery, when electricity is needed. The team will develop low-cost catalysts to use on both electrodes and leverage their expertise in system engineering to keep the costs low. By using two highly reversible single electron reactions, the round trip efficiency could exceed 80%. By operating at much higher efficiencies than traditional electrolyzers, this technology could offer multiple value streams thereby enabling widespread adoption of distributed storage and hydrogen fueling.

Proton Energy Systems

Transformative Renewable Energy Storage Devices Based on Neutral Water Input

Proton Energy Systems is developing an energy storage device that converts water to hydrogen fuel when excess electricity is available, and then uses hydrogen to generate electricity when energy is needed. The system includes an electrolyzer, which generates and separates hydrogen and oxygen for storage, and a fuel cell which converts the hydrogen and oxygen back to electricity. Traditional systems use acidic membranes, and require expensive materials including platinum and titanium for key parts of the system. In contrast, Proton Energy Systems' new technology will use an inexpensive alkaline membrane and will contain only inexpensive metals such as nickel and stainless steel. If successful, Proton Energy Systems' design will have similar performance to today's regenerative fuel cell systems at a fraction of the cost, and can be used to store electricity on the electric grid.

Quidnet Energy Inc

Geomechanical Pumped Storage

The Quidnet Energy team will develop a modified pumped hydro energy storage system that stores energy via high-pressure water in the subsurface. To charge, the team will pump water into confined rock underground, creating high pressures. When energy is needed later, the pressure forces water back up the well and through a generator to produce electricity. The Quidnet team will demonstrate the reversibility of this process and the ability to translate it across multiple types of geography within the U.S.

RamGoss, Inc.

Development of High-Performance Gallium Nitride Transistors

RamGoss is using innovative device designs and high-performance materials to develop utility-scale electronic switches that would significantly outperform today's state-of-the-art devices. Switches are the fundamental building blocks of electronic devices, controlling the electrical energy that flows around an electrical circuit. Today's best electronic switches for large power applications are bulky and inefficient, which leads to higher cost and wasted power. RamGoss is optimizing new, low-cost materials and developing a new, completely different switch designs. Combined, these innovations would increase the efficiency and reduce the overall size and cost of power converters for a variety of electronic devices and grid-scale applications, including electric vehicle (EV) chargers, large-scale wind plants, and solar power arrays.

Redox Power Systems, LLC

Low-Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells for Transformational Energy Conversion

Redox Power Systems is developing a fuel cell with a mid-temperature operating target of 400°C while maintaining high power density and enabling faster cycling. Current fuel cell systems are expensive and bulky, which limits their commercialization and widespread adoption for distributed generation and other applications. Such state-of-the-art systems consist of fuel cells that either use a mixture of ceramic oxide materials that require high temperatures (~800°C) for grid-scale applications or are polymer-based technology with prohibitive low temperature operation for vehicle technologies. By combining advanced materials that have traditionally been unstable alone, Redox will create a new two-layer electrolyte configuration incorporating nano-enabled electrodes and stable ceramic anodes. The use of these materials will increase system power density and will have a startup time of less than 10 minutes, making them more responsive to demand. Redox is also developing a new fuel processor system optimized to work with their low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells. This new material configuration also allows the operating temperature to be reduced when incorporated into commercially fabricated fuel cells. These advances will enable Redox to produce a lower cost distributed generation product, as well as to enter new markets such as embedded power for datacenters.

RedWave Energy, Inc.

High Speed Diode and Rectenna for Waste Heat to Electricity Harvesting

The team led by RedWave Energy will develop a waste heat harvesting system, called a rectenna, that converts low-temperature waste heat into electricity. Rectennas are nanoantennas that convert radiant energy to direct current (DC) electricity. The rectennas are fabricated onto sheets of flexible material in tightly packed arrays and placed near key heat sources such as the turbine's condenser, heat exchanger, and flue gas cooling stack. Heat radiates onto the nanoantennas and energizes electrons on the antennas' surface. These electrons are rectified by the system, resulting in DC power. This technology will target the waste heat in industrial processes and thermoelectric power generation.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

High-Voltage, Bi-Directional MOS-Gated SiC Power Switches for Smart Grid Utility Applications

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is working to develop and demonstrate a new bi-directional transistor switch that would significantly simplify the power conversion process for high-voltage, high-power electronics systems. A transistor switch helps control electricity, converting it from one voltage to another or from an Alternating Current (A/C) to a Direct Current (D/C). High-power systems, including solar and wind plants, usually require multiple switches to convert energy into electricity that can be transmitted through the grid. These multi-level switch configurations are costly and complex, which drives down their overall efficiency and reliability. RPI's new switch would require fewer components than conventional high-power switches. This simple design would in turn simplify the overall power conversion process and enable renewable energy sources to more easily connect to the grid.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Channeling Engineering of Hydroxide Ion Exchange Polymers and Reinforced Membranes

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) will develop hydroxide ion-conducting polymers that are chemically and mechanically stable for use in anion exchange membranes (AEM). Unlike PEMs, AEMs can be used in an alkaline environment and can use inexpensive, non-precious metal catalysts such as nickel. Simultaneously achieving high ion conductivity and mechanical stability has been a challenge because high ion exchange capacity causes swelling, which degrades the system's mechanical strength. To solve this problem, the team plans to decouple the structural units of the AEM that are responsible for ion conduction and mechanical properties, so that each can contribute to the overall properties of the AEM. The team will also use channel engineering to provide a direct path for ion transport, with minimal room for water, in order to achieve high ion conductivity with low swelling. If successful, the team hopes to create a pathway to the first commercial hydroxide ion exchange membrane products suitable for electrochemical energy conversion technologies.

Rutgers University

Computationally Efficient Control Co-Design Optimization Framework with Mixed-Fidelity Fluid and Structure Analysis

A multidisciplinary team including Rutgers University, University of Michigan, Brigham Young University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and international collaborators (Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Technical University of Denmark) will develop a computationally efficient CCD optimization software framework for floating offshore wind turbine design. They will focus on developing a modular computational framework for the modeling, optimization, and control of primary structures coupled to the surrounding air, water, and actuator dynamics. Their framework will integrate traditional aeroelastic models with higher fidelity simulation tools. This project will yield a modular and open-source framework that will be available to the other Phase 1 teams to support the broad mission of the ATLANTIS Program.

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