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Electricity Generation and Delivery

General Electric

Synthetic Reserves from Aggregated Distributed Flexible Resources

General Electric (GE) Global Research along with its partners will develop a novel distributed flexibility resource (DFR) technology that aggregates responsive flexible loads and DERs to provide synthetic reserve services to the grid while maintaining customer quality-of-service. A key innovation of the project is to develop a forecast tool that will use short-term and real-time weather forecasts along with other data to estimate the reserve potential of aggregate loads and DERs. An optimization framework that will enable aggregation of large numbers of flexible loads and DERs and determine the optimal schedule to bid into the wholesale market will be designed. A scalable control and communication architecture will enable coordination and control of the resources in real-time based on a novel two-tier hierarchical optimal control algorithm.

General Electric

Ultra Performance Heat Exchanger Enabled by Additive Technology (UPHEAT)

The GE-led team will develop a metallic-based, ultra-performance heat exchanger enabled by additive manufacturing technology and capable of operation at 900°C (1652°F) and 250 bar (3626 psi). The team will optimize heat transfer versus thermomechanical load using new micro-trifurcating core structures and manifold designs. The team will leverage a novel, high-temperature capable, crack-resistant nickel superalloy, designed specifically for additive manufacturing. When completed, the heat exchanger could enable increased thermal efficiency of indirect heated power cycles such as supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) Brayton power generation, reducing energy consumption and emissions.

GeneSiC Semiconductor

Monolithic Silicon Carbide Anode Switched Thyristor for Medium Voltage Power Conversion

GeneSiC Semiconductor is developing an advanced silicon-carbide (SiC)-based semiconductor called an anode-switched thyristor. This low-cost, compact SiC semiconductor conducts higher levels of electrical energy with better precision than traditional silicon semiconductors. This efficiency will enable a dramatic reduction in the size, weight, and volume of the power converters and the electronic devices they are used in. GeneSiC is developing its SiC-based semiconductor for utility-scale power converters. Traditional silicon semiconductors can't process the high voltages that utility-scale power distribution requires, and they must be stacked in complicated circuits that require bulky insulation and cooling hardware. GeneSiC's semiconductors are well suited for high-power applications like large-scale renewable wind and solar energy installations.

George Washington University

Micro-scale Ultra-high Efficiency CPV/Diffuse Hybrid Arrays Using Transfer Printing

George Washington University (GWU) and their partners will develop a hybrid CPV concept that combines highly efficient multi-junction solar cells and low-cost single-junction solar cells. When direct sunlight hits the lens array, it is concentrated 1000-fold and is focused onto the multi-junction solar cells. Diffuse light not captured in this process is instead captured by the low-cost single-junction solar cells. The module design is lightweight, fewer than 10 mm thick, and has a profile similar to conventional FPV. Moreover, the combination of the two types of cells increases efficiency. GWU will use its expertise in micro-transfer printing to fabricate and assemble the multi-junction cells. This process will reduce manufacturing costs and further increase efficiency.

George Washington University

Transfer Printed Virtual Substrates

George Washington University (GWU) will develop a new technique to produce commercial III-V substrates called Transfer Printed Virtual Substrates (TPVS). To reduce costs, the team proposes using a single source substrate to grow numerous virtual substrate layers. The team will use an enabling technology, called micro-transfer printing (MTP), to transfer the layers from the source substrate, in the form of many microscale "chiplets," and deposit them onto a low-cost handle (silicon, for example). Once printed, the clean surfaces of the MTP process allows each chiplet to complete the epitaxial growth process on the lower cost substrate after having been seeded from the initial source and having sacrificial layers in between to release the chiplets from the source wafer. The TPVS process can potentially yield tens to hundreds virtual substrates from a single source wafer. Any micro/nanoscale device grown on III-V substrates, such as sensors, detectors, lasers, power electronics, and high-speed transistors, will experience significant cost reductions as a direct result of TPVS deployment. TPVS can also reduce the demand for rare minerals used for a wide range of critical technological applications due to the greater efficiency with which each initial source substrate is utilized.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Prosumer-Based Distributed Autonomous Cyber-Physical Architecture for Ultra-reliable Green Electricity Internetworks

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a decentralized, autonomous, internet-like control architecture and control software system for the electric power grid. Georgia Tech's new architecture is based on the emerging concept of electricity prosumers--economically motivated actors that can produce, consume, or store electricity. Under Georgia Tech's architecture, all of the actors in an energy system are empowered to offer associated energy services based on their capabilities. The actors achieve their sustainability, efficiency, reliability, and economic objectives, while contributing to system-wide reliability and efficiency goals. This is in marked contrast to the current one-way, centralized control paradigm.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

A Novel Intermediate-Temperature Fuel Cell Tailored for Efficient Utilization of Methane

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a fuel cell that operates at temperatures less than 500°C by integrating nanostructured materials into all cell components. This is a departure from traditional fuel cells that operate at much lower or much higher temperatures. By developing multifunctional anodes that can efficiently reform and directly process methane, this fuel cell will allow for efficient use of methane. Additionally, the Georgia Tech team will develop nanocomposite electrolytes to reduce cell temperature without sacrificing system performance. These technological advances will enable an efficient, intermediate-temperature fuel cell for distributed generation applications.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

High Efficiency Solar Fuels Reactor Concept

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a high-efficiency concentrating solar receiver and reactor for the production of solar fuels. The team will develop a system that uses liquid metal to capture and transport heat at much higher temperatures compared to state-of-the-art concentrating solar power facilities. This high temperature system will be combined with the team's novel reactor to produce solar fuels that allow the flexibility to store and transport solar energy for later use or for immediate power production. Higher temperatures should result in much higher efficiencies and therefore lower costs of produced fuel or electricity. Additionally, plant operators would have the flexibility to match electricity or fuel production with the changing market demand to improve the cost effectiveness of the plant.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Grid-Connected Modular Soft-Switching Solid State Transformers (M-S4T)

Georgia Tech Research Corporation and its project team will develop a solid-state transformer for medium-voltage grid applications using silicon carbide with a focus on compact size and high-performance. Traditional grid connected transformers have been used for over 100 years to 'step down' higher voltage to lower voltage. Higher voltages allows for delivery of power over longer distances and lower voltages keeps consumers safe. But traditional distribution transformers lack integrated sensing, communications, and controls. They also lack the ability to control the voltage, current, frequency, power factor or anything else to improve local or global performance. Solid-state transformers can provide improvements and Georgia Tech's design seeks to address major roadblocks to their implementation, namely insulation, cooling, voltage change, and magnetic field issues, as well as downstream protection against abnormal current faults. If successful, the team will greatly increase transformer functionality while reducing its size over current technologies, affecting application areas like grid energy storage, solar photovoltaics and electric vehicle fast chargers, while also enabling better grid monitoring and easy retrofits.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation


Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Electric Power Generation by a Vertical-Axis Turbine Driven by an Anchored Vortex and Sustained by the Air Layer over Solar-Heated Ground: Development and Demonstration of a Scalable 10 kWe Prototype

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a method to capture energy from wind vortices that form from a thin layer of solar-heated air along the ground. "Dust devils" are a random and intermittent example of this phenomenon in nature. Naturally, the sun heats the ground creating a thin air layer near the surface that is warmer than the air above. Since hot air rises, this layer of air will naturally want to rise. The Georgia Tech team will use a set of vanes to force the air to rotate as it rises, forming an anchored columnar vortex that draws in additional hot air to sustain itself. Georgia Tech's technology uses a rotor and generator to produce electrical power from this rising, rotating air similar to a conventional wind turbine. This solar-heated air, a renewable energy resource, is broadly available, especially in the southern U.S. Sunbelt, yet has not been utilized to date. This technology could offer more continuous power generation than conventional solar PV or wind. Georgia Tech's technology is a, low-cost, scalable approach to electrical power generation that could create a new class of renewable energy ideally suited for arid low-wind regions.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Resilient, Cyber Secure Centralized Substation Protection

The Georgia Tech Research Corporation will design an autonomous, resilient and cyber-secure protection and control system for each power plant and substation on its grid. This will eliminate complex coordinated protection settings and transform the protection practice into a simpler, intelligent, automated and transparent process. The technology will integrate protective relays into an intelligent protection scheme that relies on existing high data redundancy in substations to (a) validate data; (b) detect hidden failures and in this case self-heal the protection and control system; (c) detect cyber-attacks (focus on false data and/or malicious control injection) and identify the source for attribution; and (d) provide the full state of the system with minimal delay for optimal full state feedback control.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Dynamic Control of Grid Assets Using Direct AC Converter Cells

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a cost-effective, utility-scale power router that uses an enhanced transformer to more efficiently direct power on the grid. Existing power routing technologies are too expensive for widespread use, but the ability to route grid power to match real-time demand and power outages would significantly reduce energy costs for utilities, municipalities, and consumers. Georgia Tech is adding a power converter to an existing grid transformer to better control power flows at about 1/10th the cost of existing power routing solutions. Transformers convert the high-voltage electricity that is transmitted through the grid into the low-voltage electricity that is used by homes and businesses. The added converter uses fewer steps to convert some types of power and eliminates unnecessary power storage, among other improvements. The enhanced transformer is more efficient, and it would still work even if the converter fails, ensuring grid reliability.

Glint Photonics, Inc.

Self-Tracking Concentrator Photovoltaics

Glint Photonics is developing an inexpensive solar concentrating PV (CPV) module that tracks the sun's position over the course of the day to channel sunlight into PV materials more efficiently. Conventional solar concentrator technology requires complex moving parts to track the sun's movements. In contrast, Glint's inexpensive design can be mounted in a stationary configuration and adjusts its properties automatically in response to the solar position. By embedding this automated tracking function within the concentrator, Glint's design enables CPV modules to use traditional mounting technology and techniques, reducing installation complexity and cost. These self-tracking concentrators can significantly decrease the cost of solar power modules by enabling high efficiency while eliminating the additional costs of precision trackers and specialized mounting hardware. The concentrator itself is designed to be manufactured at extremely low-cost due to low material usage and compatibility with high-speed fabrication techniques. Glint's complete module costs are estimated to be $0.35/watt-peak.

Glint Photonics, Inc.

Stationary Wide-Angle Concentrator PV System

Glint Photonics in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will develop a stationary wide-angle concentrator (SWAC) PV system. The SWAC concentrates light onto multi-junction solar cells, which efficiently convert sunlight into electrical energy. A sheet of arrayed PV cells moves passively within the module to maximize sunlight capture throughout the day. Two innovations allow this tracking to occur smoothly and without the expense or complexity of an active control system or a mechanical tracker. First, a fluidic suspension mechanism enables nearly frictionless movement of the sheet embedded in the module. Second, a thermal-gradient-driven alignment mechanism uses a tiny fraction of the collected energy to drive the movement of the sheet and keep it precisely aligned. Glint will develop the novel optical and fluidic components of the SWAC, while NREL will develop custom multi-junction solar cells for the prototype modules.

GridBright, Inc.

A Standards-Based Intelligent Repository for Collaborative Grid Model Management

GridBright and Utility Integration Solutions (UISOL, a GE Company) will develop a power systems model repository based on state-of-the-art open-source software. The models in this repository will be used to facilitate testing and adoption of new grid optimization and control algorithms. The repository will use field-proven open-source software and will be made publicly available in the first year of the project. Key features of the repository include an advanced search capability to support search and extraction of models based on key research characteristics, faster model upload and download times, and the ability to support thousands of users. The team will establish a long-term strategy for managing the repository that will allow its operation to continue after its project term with ARPA-E ends.

GridBright, Inc.

Secure Grid Data Exchange Using Cryptography, Peer-to-Peer Networks, and Blockchain Ledgers

GridBright will develop a simple and secure solution for sharing grid-related data to improve grid efficiency, reliability, and resiliency in a manner that preserves security and integrity. GridBright will use the Agile development model to construct several proof-of-concept software pipelines, performing penetration and compromise testing and a quantitative evaluation of each against existing requirements. The solution will create a simpler secure grid data exchange process for the electric grid and utility industries.

Halotechnics, Inc.

Advanced Molten Glass for Heat Transfer and Thermal Energy Storage

Halotechnics is developing a high-temperature thermal energy storage system using a new thermal-storage and heat-transfer material: earth-abundant and low-melting-point molten glass. Heat storage materials are critical to the energy storage process. In solar thermal storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials during the day and released at night--when the sun is not out--to drive a turbine and produce electricity. In nuclear storage systems, heat can be stored in these materials at night and released to produce electricity during daytime peak-demand hours. Halotechnics new thermal storage material targets a price that is potentially cheaper than the molten salt used in most commercial solar thermal storage systems today. It is also extremely stable at temperatures up to 1200°C--hundreds of degrees hotter than the highest temperature molten salt can handle. Being able to function at high temperatures will significantly increase the efficiency of turning heat into electricity. Halotechnics is developing a scalable system to pump, heat, store, and discharge the molten glass. The company is leveraging technology used in the modern glass industry, which has decades of experience handling molten glass.

Harvard University

Small Organic Molecule Based Flow Battery

Harvard University is developing an innovative grid-scale flow battery to store electricity from renewable sources. Flow batteries store energy in external tanks instead of within the battery container, permitting larger amounts of stored energy at lower cost per kWh. Harvard is designing active material for a flow battery that uses small, inexpensive organic molecules in aqueous electrolyte. Relying on low-cost organic materials, Harvard's innovative storage device concept would yield one or more systems that may be developed by their partner, Sustainable Innovations, LLC, into viable grid-scale electrical energy storage systems.

Harvard University

Transistor-less Power Supply Technology Based on UWBG Nonlinear Transmission Line

Harvard University in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories will develop a transistor-less 16kW DC to DC converter boosting a 0.5kV DC input to 8kV that is scalable to 100kW. If successful, the transistor-less DC to DC converter could improve the performance of power electronics for electric vehicles, commercial power supplies, renewable energy systems, grid operations, and other applications. Converting DC to DC is a two-step process that traditionally uses fast-switching transistors to convert a DC input to an AC signal before the signal is rectified to a DC output. The Harvard and Sandia team will improve the process by replacing the active, fast-switching transistors with a slow switch followed by a passive, nonlinear transmission line (NLTL). The NLTL is a ladder network of passive components (inductors and diodes) that provide a nonlinear output with voltage. The combination of the nonlinear behavior with dispersion converts a quasi-DC input into a series of sharper and taller (amplified) voltage pulses called solitons, thus executing the DC to AC conversion without the use of active, fast-switching transistors. The NLTL will be followed by a high breakdown voltage silicon carbide and/or gallium nitride diode-based accumulator that converts the series of solitons to a DC output. Replacing the fast-switching transistors with a slow switch and a NLTL addresses the cost, size, efficiency, and reliability issues associated with fast switching based converters. Diodes also cost less and last longer because they are simpler structures than transistors and use no dielectrics. Efficiency, cost, and reliability improvements provided by a NLTL-based power converter will drastically benefit commercial power supplies, industrial motors, electric vehicles, data centers, the electric grid, and renewable electric power generation such as solar and wind.


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