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Electricity Generation and Delivery

WS Atkins Inc.


WS Atkins will focus on generating experimental data that can be used to validate computer programs and new technologies developed for FOWT applications. The team will conduct experiments of 15-MW (megawatt) wind turbine scale models in world-class test facilities to assess the behavior of conventional and unconventional FOWT structures with advanced solutions. The WS Atkins team will make their data accessible to ATLANTIS project members and the public to facilitate benchmarking of new designs, accurate calibration of computer tools, and a FOWT database for future research.

Yale University

Power Generation from Waste Heat with Closed Loop Membrane-Based System

Yale University is developing a system to generate electricity using low-temperature waste heat from power plants, industrial facilities, and geothermal wells. Low-temperature waste heat is a vast, mostly untapped potential energy source. Yale's closed loop system begins with waste heat as an input. This waste heat will separate an input salt water stream into two output streams, one with high salt concentration and one with low salt concentration. In the next stage, the high and low concentration salt streams will be recombined. Mixing these streams releases energy which can then be captured. The mixed saltwater stream is then sent back to the waste heat source, allowing the process to begin again. Yale's system for generating electricity from low-temperature waste heat could considerably increase the efficiency of power generation systems.

Yale University

Dual-junction Solar Cells for High Efficiency at Elevated Temperature

Yale University is developing a dual-junction solar cell that can operate efficiently at temperatures above 400 °C, unlike today's solar cells, which lose efficiency rapidly above 100°C and are likely to fail at high temperatures over time. Yale's specialized dual-junction design will allow the cell to extract significantly more energy from the sun at high temperature than today's cells, enabling the next generation of hybrid solar converters to deliver much higher quantities of electricity and highly useful dispatchable heat. Heat rejected from the cells at high temperature can be stored and used to generate electricity with a heat engine much more effectively than cells producing heat at lower temperatures. Therefore, electricity can be produced at higher overall efficiency for use even when the sun is not shining.

Yellowstone Energy

Reactivity Control Device for Advanced Reactors

Yellowstone Energy will develop a new passive control technology to enhance safety and reduce nuclear power plant costs. The team's Reactivity Control Device (RCD) will integrate with the Yellowstone Energy Molten Nitrate Salt Reactor and other advanced reactor designs. The RCD will use fluid embedded in the reactor's control rods to control reaction rates at elevated temperatures, even in the absence of external controls. As the heating from fission increases or decreases, the fluid density will automatically and passively respond to control the system. The RCD's passive control is highly beneficial for ensuring reactor safety and stability under normal operation and accident scenarios. The team will use simulation tools to determine the effectiveness of the control device and conduct a techno-economic analysis at the plant level to determine cost effectiveness. If successful, the system will provide a high level of resiliency and reliability while significantly improving the economics and safety of many advanced reactor designs. The RCD may also serve as the basis for additional innovations in reactor designs including a broader range of coolant salts in solid fueled, salt-cooled reactors and further advanced reactor defense against cybersecurity threats.

Zap Energy Incorporated

Electrode Technology Development for the Sheared-Flow Z-Pinch Fusion Reactor

Zap Energy will advance the fusion performance of the sheared-flow stabilized (SFS) Z-pinch fusion concept. While the simplicity of the Z-pinch is attractive, it has been plagued by plasma instabilities. Like traditional Z-pinch approaches, the SFS Z-pinch drives electrical current through a plasma to create magnetic fields that compress and heat the plasma toward fusion conditions. The innovation of the SFS Z-pinch is the velocity gradient across the radius of the Z-pinch--in other words, the outer edge of the plasma column is moving at a different velocity than the center--which stabilizes the plasma instabilities of traditional Z-pinches. In this project the team will raise the electrical current of their SFS Z-pinch, reduce physics risks relating to plasma stability and confinement, and develop the electrode technology and plasma-initiation techniques necessary to enable the next steps toward a functional SFS Z-pinch fusion power plant. This could provide nearly limitless, on-demand, emission-free energy with negligible fuel costs.

Zap Energy Incorporated

Sheared Flow Stabilized Z-Pinch Performance Improvement

A Z-pinch fusion device has an electrical current driven through the fusion fuel, creating self-generated magnetic fields that compress and heat the fuel toward fusion conditions. While a Z-pinch with no equilibrium flows has rapidly growing instabilities that disrupt the plasma within nanoseconds, the Z-pinch can be stabilized if an axial plasma flow varying strongly enough with radius is introduced. This sheared-flow stabilized (SFS) Z-pinch may be the simplest and most compact of all known controlled-fusion approaches, as it does not require magnetic coils nor any external heating systems other than the source to drive the electrical current. Under the ALPHA and OPEN 2018 programs, the SFS Z-pinch provided evidence of a fusion triple product exceeding 1017 keV s/m3, a factor of 50 increase in 3-4 years. This project will enable Zap Energy to build a more versatile SFS Z?pinch device to eventually allow for independent control of the plasma formation and acceleration stages. They will use the new device to advance their triple product toward breakeven conditions.

The ARPA-E model is unique in that the agency does not just provide teams funding. Throughout the lifetime of an ARPA-E award, ARPA-E Program Directors and Tech-to-Market Advisors also provide teams with expert advice through quarterly reviews and onsite visits. This hands-on approach helps ensure teams can meet ambitious milestones, target and tackle problems early on, and advance their technologies towards commercialization. Program Director Dr. Isik Kizilyalli explains the importance of this active project management approach in helping teams identify and overcome barriers. In this video, Energy Storage Systems (ESS) from the GRIDS program and Monolith Semiconductors from the SWITCHES program discuss how ARPA-E’s active project management approach helped them find solutions to technical challenges.

ARPA-E’s Technology-to-Market Advisors work closely with each ARPA-E project team to develop and execute a commercialization strategy. ARPA-E requires our teams to focus on their commercial path forward, because we understand that to have an impact on our energy mission, technologies must have a viable path into the marketplace. ARPA-E Senior Commercialization Advisor Dr. John Tuttle discusses what this Tech-to-Market guidance in practice looks like with reference to two project teams. OPEN 2012 awardees from Harvard University and Sunfolding share their stories of how ARPA-E worked with their teams to analyze market conditions and identify commercial opportunities that ultimately convinced them to pivot their technologies towards market applications with greater potential.

Many of ARPA-E’s technology programs seek to break down silos and build new technological communities around a specific energy challenge. In this video, ARPA-E’s Deputy Director for Technology Eric Rohlfing, discusses how the Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program is bringing together the photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) communities to develop hybrid solar energy systems. This video features interviews with innovators from the FOCUS project team made up by Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, and showcases how the FOCUS program is combining the best elements of two types of solar to get the most out of the full solar spectrum.

ARPA-E is supporting some of the best and brightest scientific minds across the country to turn aspirational ideas into tangible technology options. By presenting an ambitious energy challenge to the U.S. research and development community, ARPA-E attracts ideas from a diverse group of innovators, representing traditional and non-traditional energy backgrounds, who look to address energy challenges in new and exciting ways. Founder and CEO of Alveo Energy Dr. Colin Wessels and Co-Founder and CEO of Indoor Reality Dr. Avideh Zakhor are two ARPA-E project investigators that have made great progress, with support from the ARPA-E Tech-to-Market team, in advancing their technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace.


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