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Electricity Generation and Delivery

CUNY Energy Institute

Low-Cost Grid-Scale Electrical Storage Using a Flow-Assisted Rechargeable Zinc-Manganese Dioxide Battery

City University of New York (CUNY) Energy Institute is working to tame dendrite formation and to enhance the lifetime of Manganese in order to create a long-lasting, fully rechargeable battery for grid-scale energy storage. Traditional consumer-grade disposable batteries are made of Zinc and Manganese, two inexpensive, abundant, and non-toxic metals, but these disposable batteries can only be used once. If they are recharged, the Zinc in the battery develops filaments called dendrites that grow haphazardly and disrupt battery performance, while the Manganese quickly loses its ability to store energy. CUNY Energy Institute is also working to reduce dendrite formation by pumping fluid through the battery, enabling researchers to fix the dendrites as they form. The team has already tested its Zinc battery through 3,000 recharge cycles (and counting). CUNY Energy Institute aims to demonstrate a better cycle life than lithium-ion batteries, which can be up to 20 times more expensive than Zinc-based batteries.

CUNY Energy Institute


City University of New York (CUNY) Energy Institute is developing less expensive, more efficient, smaller, and longer-lasting power converters for energy-efficient LED lights. LEDs produce light more efficiently than incandescent lights and last significantly longer than compact fluorescent bulbs, but they require more sophisticated power converter technology, which increases their cost. LEDs need more sophisticated converters because they require a different type of power (low-voltage direct current, or DC) than what's generally supplied by power outlets. CUNY Energy Institute is developing sophisticated power converters for LEDs that contain capacitors made from new, nanoscale materials. Capacitors are electrical components that are used to store energy. CUNY Energy Institute's unique capacitors are configured with advanced power circuits to more efficiently control and convert power to the LED lighting source. They also eliminate the need for large magnetic components, instead relying on networks of capacitors that can be easily printed on plastic substrate. CUNY Energy Institute's prototype LED power converter already meets DOE's 2020 projections for the energy efficiency of LED power converters.

Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A)

Sensor-Enhanced and Model-Validated Batteries for Energy Storage

Det Norske Veritas (DNV KEMA) is testing a new gas monitoring system developed by NexTech Materials to provide early warning signals that a battery is operating under stressful conditions and at risk of premature failure. As batteries degrade, they emit low level quantities of gas that can be measured over the course of a battery's life-time. DNV KEMA is working with NexTech to develop technology to accurately measure these gas emissions. By taking accurate stock of gas emissions within the battery pack, the monitoring method could help battery management systems predict when a battery is likely to fail. Advanced prediction models could work alongside more traditional models to optimize the performance of electrical energy storage systems going forward. In the final phase of the project, DNV KEMA will build a demonstration in a community energy storage system with Beckett Energy Systems.

Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A)

Third Party Valuation of Grid and Microgrid Energy Storage Technologies

Det Norske Veritas (DNV GL) and Group NIRE will provide a unique combination of third-party testing facilities, testing and analysis methodologies, and expert oversight to the evaluation of ARPA-E-funded energy storage systems. The project will leverage DNV GL's deep expertise in economic analysis of energy storage technologies, and will implement economically optimized duty cycles into the testing and validation protocol. DNV GL plans to test ARPA-E storage technologies at its state-of-the-art battery testing facility in partnership with the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium. Those batteries that pass the rigorous evaluation process will be adapted for testing under real world conditions on Group NIRE's multi-megawatt, wind-integrated microgrid in Texas. Testing will show how well the ARPA-E storage technologies can serve critical applications and will assist ARPA-E-funded battery developers in identifying any issues with performance and durability. This testing will also deliver performance data that buyers of grid storage need, enabling informed choices about commercial adoption of grid storage technologies.

Dioxide Materials, Inc.

High Efficiency Alkaline Water Electrolyzers for Grid Scale Energy Storage

The team led by Dioxide Materials will develop an alkaline water electrolyzer for an improved power-to-gas system. The team's electrochemical cells are composed of an anode, a cathode, and a membrane that allows anions to pass through, while being electrically insulating. High-conductivity anion exchange membranes are rare and often do not have the chemical or mechanical stability to withstand H2 production at elevated pressures. Therefore, the project is focused on developing an anion exchange membrane that is low-cost, is manufacturable in a scaleable process, and has sufficient conductivity, chemical stability, and mechanical strength. Moreover, by operating at alkaline instead of acidic conditions, the electrochemical cells do not need to use expensive precious metal catalysts, which most systems require to prevent corrosion. Dioxide Materials estimates that operating under alkaline conditions could lead to a 10x lower electrolyzer stack cost due to higher current densities and lower material costs (i.e. non-precious metals). The system will be compatible with intermittent energy sources because it can operate at lower temperatures than competiting technologies, thus allowing startup times on the order of seconds.

Drexel University

Resonant Solid State Breaker Based on Wireless Coupling in MVDC Systems

Drexel University is proposing a solid-state MV circuit breaker based on silicon carbide devices, a resonant topology, and capacitive wireless power transfer that aims to significantly improve breaker performance for the MVDC ecosystem. The project combines innovations in using an active resonant circuit to realize zero-current switching, wireless capacitive coupling between the conduction and breaker branches to avoid direct metal-to-metal contact for rapid response speed, and wireless powering to drive the MV switches for improved system reliability.

e Nova, Inc.

Waste Heat-Powered Gas Compressor

eNova is developing a gas compressor powered by waste heat from the exhaust of a gas turbine. A conventional gas turbine facility releases the exhaust heat produced during operation into the air--this heat is a waste by-product that can be used to improve power generation system efficiency. eNova's gas compressor converts the exhaust waste heat from the simple cycle gas turbine to compressed air for injection into the turbine, thereby lessening the burden on the turbine's air compressor. This new compressor design is ideal for use with a remote gas turbine--such as that typically used in the natural gas industry to compress pipeline natural gas--with limited options for waste heat recovery and access to high voltage power lines and water.


Planar Sodium-Beta Batteries for Renewable Integration and Grid Applications

EaglePicher Technologies is developing a sodium-beta alumina (Na-Beta) battery for grid-scale energy storage. High-temperature Na-Beta batteries are a promising grid-scale energy storage technology, but existing approaches are expensive and unreliable. EaglePicher has modified the shape of the traditional, tubular-shaped Na-Beta battery. It is using an inexpensive stacked design to improve performance at lower temperatures, leading to a less expensive overall storage technology. The new design greatly simplifies the manufacturing process for beta alumina membranes (a key enabling technology), providing a subsequent pathway to the production of scalable, modular batteries at half the cost of the existing tubular designs.

Eaton Corporation

Predictive Battery Management for Commercial Hybrid Vehicles

Eaton is developing advanced battery and vehicle systems models that will enable fast, accurate estimation of battery health and remaining life. The batteries used in hybrid vehicles are highly complex and require advanced management systems to maximize their performance. Eaton's battery models will be coupled with hybrid powertrain control and power management systems of the vehicle enabling a broader, more comprehensive vehicle management system for better optimization of battery life and fuel economy. Their design would reduce the sticker price of commercial hybrid vehicles, making them cost-competitive with non-hybrid vehicles.

Eaton Corporation

Synthetic Cloud-Based Regulation Reserve Distribution Management System (Secured)

Eaton will develop and validate a disruptive cloud-computing-based technology aimed at providing agile and robust synthetic regulating reserve services to the power grid. This approach separates the decision-making of synthetic regulating reserve services into two-levels to significantly reduce the computational complexity, thereby enabling large-scale coordinated control of a vast number of DERs and flexible load. The system-operator level estimates and predicts reserve capacity of the distribution network and decides on the appropriate economic incentives for DERs to participate in future services. At the local level, an energy node comprised of a cluster of DERs and flexible loads will automatically decide its own reserve services strategy that takes into account short-term net load and economic incentives. By splitting these decisions between the two levels, the solution does not require extensive communication or negotiation between the local DERs and the system operators in the cloud.

Eaton Corporation

Ultra-Efficient Intelligent MVDC Hybrid Circuit Breaker

Eaton will build an ultra-high efficiency, medium voltage direct current (MVDC), electro-mechanical/solid-state hybrid circuit breaker (HCB) that offers both low conduction losses and fast response times. The team will also develop a high-speed actuator/vacuum switch (HSVS) combined with a novel transient commutation current injector (TCCI). This switch will transfer power to a separate solid-state device, interrupting the current in the event of a fault. The design should allow for scaling in voltage and current, enabling a range of circuit breakers across the MV application space.

Echogen Power Systems (DE), Inc.

Low-cost, Long-duration Electrical Energy Storage Using a CO2-based Pumped Thermal Energy Storage System

The Echogen Power Systems team will develop an energy storage system that uses a carbon dioxide (CO2) heat pump cycle to convert electrical energy into thermal energy by heating a "reservoir" of low-cost materials such as sand or concrete. During the charging cycle, the reservoir will store the heat that will be converted into electricity on demand in the discharge or generating cycle. To generate power, liquid CO2 will be pumped to a supercritical pressure and brought to a higher temperature using the stored heat from the reservoir. Finally, the supercritical CO2 will be used to expand through a turbine to generate electricity during the discharge cycle.

Energy Storage Systems, Inc.

10kW 80kWh Energy Storage System Based on All-Iron Hybrid Flow Battery

Energy Storage Systems (ESS) is developing a cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly all-iron hybrid flow battery. A flow battery is an easily rechargeable system that stores its electrolyte--the material that provides energy--as liquid in external tanks. Currently, flow batteries account for less than 1% of the grid-scale energy storage market because of their high system costs. The ESS flow battery technology is distinguished by its cost-effective electrolytes, based on earth-abundant iron, and its innovative battery hardware design that dramatically increases power density and enables a smaller and less costly battery. Creating a high-performing and low-cost storage system would enable broad adoption of distributed energy storage systems and help bring more renewable energy technologies--such as wind and solar--onto the grid.

Feasible, Inc.

Electrochemical-Acoustic Signal Interrogation Analysis of Batteries

Feasible will develop a non-invasive, low-cost, ultrasonic diagnostic system that links the electrochemical reactions taking place inside a battery with changes in how sound waves propagate through the battery. This Electrochemical Acoustic Signal Interrogation (EASI) analysis will bridge the gap in battery diagnostics between structural insights and electrical measurements, offering both speed and scalability. The physical processes of a battery that affect performance are nearly impossible to monitor with standard diagnostic methods. EASI can provide insights into the battery development, manufacturing, and management life cycle. This capability is enabled by acoustic analysis, which is a fundamentally new tool in its application to batteries, and will aid cell design and development, improve manufacturing quality and yield thereby decreasing cost, and decrease inefficiencies in battery utilization and system design. During a prior ARPA-E IDEAS award, Princeton University developed the proof of concept for this technology that linked the propagation of sound waves through a battery to the state of the material components within the battery. Now, as Feasible Inc., the team will further the development of their sensing techniques and build a database of acoustic signatures for different battery chemistries, form factors, and use conditions. If successful, this ultrasonic diagnostic system will lead to improved 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 to better inform battery management strategies.

FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp.

Breakthrough High-Efficiency Shrouded Wind Turbine

FloDesign's innovative wind turbine, inspired by the design of jet engines, could deliver 300% more power than existing wind turbines of the same rotor diameter by extracting more energy over a larger area. FloDesign's unique shrouded design expands the wind capture area, and the mixing vortex downstream allows more energy to flow through the rotor without stalling the turbine. The unique rotor and shrouded design also provide significant opportunity for mass production and simplified assembly, enabling mid-scale turbines (approximately 100 kW) to produce power at a cost that is comparable to larger-scale conventional turbines.

Fluidic, Inc.

Enhanced Metal-Air Energy Storage System with Advanced Grid-Interoperable Power Electronics Enabling Scalability and Ultra-Low Cost

Fluidic Energy is developing a low-cost, rechargeable, high-power module for Zinc-air batteries that will be used to store renewable energy. Zinc-air batteries are traditionally found in small, non-rechargeable devices like hearing aids because they are well-suited to delivering low levels of power for long periods of time. Historically, Zinc-air batteries have not been as useful for applications which require periodic bursts of power, like on the electrical grid. Fluidic hopes to fill this need by combining the high energy, low cost, and long run-time of a Zinc-air battery with new chemistry providing high power, high efficiency, and fast response. The battery module could allow large grid-storage batteries to provide much more power on very short demand--the most costly kind of power for utilities--and with much more versatile performance.

Ford Motor Company

High-Precision Tester for Automotive and Stationary Batteries

Ford Motor Company is developing a commercially viable battery tester with measurement precision that is significantly better than today's best battery testers. Improvements in the predictive ability of battery testers would enable significant reductions in the time and expense involved in electric vehicle technology validation. Unfortunately, the instrumental precision required to reliably predict performance of batteries after thousands of charge and discharge cycles does not exist in today's commercial systems. Ford's design would dramatically improve the precision of electric vehicle battery testing equipment, which would reduce the time and expense required in the research, development, and qualification testing of new automotive and stationary batteries.

Form Energy, Inc.

Aqueous Sulfur Systems for Long-duration Grid Storage

Form Energy will develop a long-duration energy storage system that takes advantage of the low cost and high abundance of sulfur in a water-based solution. Previous MIT research demonstrated that aqueous sulfur flow batteries represent the lowest chemical cost among rechargeable batteries. However, these systems have relatively low efficiency. Conversely, numerous rechargeable battery chemistries with higher efficiency have high chemical costs. The solution requires low chemical cost, high efficiency, and streamlined architecture. The team will pursue several competing strategies and ultimately select a single approach to develop a prototype system. Focus areas include developing anode and cathode formulations, membranes, and physical system designs.

Foro Energy, Inc.

High Power Laser Decommissioning Tool

Foro Energy will develop a high-power laser tool to assist in removing the extremely tough materials constituting aging energy assets in a timely, cost-effective, safe, and environmentally responsible manner. This cutting and melting tool will be capable of transmitting high-power laser light at long distances in a field environment, greatly boosting decommissioning efficiency.

Foro Energy, Inc.

Low-Contact Drilling Technology to Enable Economical EGS Wells

Foro Energy is developing a unique capability and hardware system to transmit high power lasers over long distances via fiber optic cables. This laser power is integrated with a mechanical drilling bit to enable rapid and sustained penetration of hard rock formations too costly to drill with mechanical drilling bits alone. The laser energy that is directed at the rock basically softens the rock, allowing the mechanical bit to more easily remove it. Foro Energy's laser-assisted drill bits have the potential to be up to 10 times more economical than conventional hard-rock drilling technologies, making them an effective way to access the U.S. energy resources currently locked under hard rock formations.


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