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Electricity Generation and Delivery

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Electric-Powered Adsorption Heat Pump for Electric Vehicles

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is developing a new class of advanced nanomaterial called an electrical metal organic framework (EMOF) for EV heating and cooling systems. The EMOF would function similar to a conventional heat pump, which circulates heat or cold to the cabin as needed. However, by directly controlling the EMOF's properties with electricity, the PNNL design is expected to use much less energy than traditional heating and cooling systems. The EMOF-based heat pumps would be light, compact, efficient, and run using virtually no moving parts.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Multi-scale Incentive-Based Control of Distributed Assets

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will develop and test a hierarchical control framework for coordinating the flexibility of a full range of DERs, including flexible building loads, to supply reserves to the electric power grid. The hierarchical control framework consists of incentive-based control strategies across multiple time-scales. The system will use a slower incentive-based approach to acquire flexible assets that provide services, combined with faster device-level controls that use minimal communication to provide desired responses to the grid. Each DER that chooses to participate will communicate its ability to provide flexibility and the time scale over which it can provide the service. A distribution reliability coordinator will act as an interface between the DERs and the bulk system, coordinating the resources in an economic and reliable manner. The team will characterize various DER types to quantify the maximum flexibility that can be extracted from a collection of DERs in aggregate in order to provide service-level guarantees to the bulk energy market operator. The performance of the resulting hierarchical control system will be tested at scale in a co-simulation environment spanning transmission, distribution, ancillary markets, and communication systems.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Reversible Metal Hydride Thermal Storage for High-Temperature Power Generation Systems

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is developing a thermal energy storage system based on a Reversible Metal Hydride Thermochemical (RMHT) system, which uses metal hydride as a heat storage material. 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. PNNL's metal hydride material can reversibly store heat as hydrogen cycles in and out of the material. In a RHMT system, metal hydrides remain stable in high temperatures (600- 800°C). A high-temperature tank in PNNL's storage system releases heat as hydrogen is absorbed, and a low-temperature tank stores the heat until it is needed. The low-cost material and simplicity of PNNL's thermal energy storage system is expected to keep costs down. The system has the potential to significantly increase energy density.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

High Performance Power-Grid Optimization 

The team led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will develop a High-Performance Power-Grid Optimization (HIPPO) technology to reduce grid resource scheduling times to within a fraction of current speeds, which can lead to more flexible and reliable real-time operation. The team will leverage advances in optimization algorithms and deploy high-performance computing technologies to significantly improve the performance of grid scheduling. HIPPO will provide inter-algorithm parallelization and allow algorithms to share information during their solution process, with the objective of reducing computing time by efficiently using computational power. New algorithms will leverage knowledge of the underlying system, operational experience, and past solutions to improve performance and avoid previously encountered mistakes.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Non-Wire Methods for Transmission Congestion Management through Predictive Simulation and Optimization

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is developing innovative high-performance-computing techniques that can assess unused power transmission capacity in real-time in order to better manage congestion in the power grid. This type of assessment is traditionally performed off-line every season or every year using only conservative, worst-case scenarios. Finding computing techniques that rate transmission capacity in real-time could improve the utilization of the existing transmission infrastructure by up to 30% and facilitate increased integration of renewable generation into the grid--all without having to build costly new transmission lines.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Sustainable Data Evolution Technology for Power Grid Optimization 

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), along with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, PJM, Avista, and CAISO, will develop a sustainable data evolution technology (SDET) to create open-access transmission and distribution power grid datasets as well as data creation tools that the grid community can use to create new datasets based on user requirements and changing grid complexity. The SDET approach will derive features and metrics from many private datasets provided by PNNL's industry partners. For transmission systems, PNNL will develop advanced, graph-theory based techniques and statistical approaches to reproduce the derived features and metrics in synthetic power systems models. For distribution systems, the team will use anonymization and obfuscation techniques and apply them to datasets from utility partners.

Palo Alto Research Center

Smart Embedded Network of Sensors with Optical Readout (SENSOR)

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is developing new fiber optic sensors that would be embedded into batteries to monitor and measure key internal parameters during charge and discharge cycles. Two significant problems with today's best batteries are their lack of internal monitoring capabilities and their design oversizing. The lack of monitoring interferes with the ability to identify and manage performance or safety issues as they arise, which are presently managed by very conservative design oversizing and protection approaches that result in cost inefficiencies. PARC's design combines low-cost, embedded optical battery sensors and smart algorithms to overcome challenges faced by today's best battery management systems. These advanced fiber optic sensing technologies have the potential to dramatically improve the safety, performance, and life-time of energy storage systems.

Palo Alto Research Center

Micro-Chiplet Printer for MOSAIC

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), along with Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) will develop a prototype printer with the potential to enable economical, high-volume manufacturing of micro-PV cell arrays. This project will focus on creating a printing technology that can affordably manufacture micro-CPV system components. The envisioned printer would drastically lower assembly costs and increase manufacturing efficiency of micro-CPV systems. Leveraging their expertise in digital copier assembly, PARC intends to create a printer demonstration that uses micro-CPV cells or "chiplets" as the "ink" and arranges the chiplets in a precise, predefined location and orientation, similar to how a document printer places ink on a page. SNL will provide micro-scaled photovoltaic components to be used as the "ink," and the PARC system will "print" panel-sized micro-CPV substrates with digitally placed and interconnected PV cells. This micro-chiplet printer technology may reduce the assembly cost of micro-CPV systems by orders of magnitude, making them cost competitive with conventional FPV. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the printer, the project team will investigate two types of backplanes (electronically connected PV arrays arranged on a surface): one with a single type of micro-PV cell, and one with at least two types of micro-PV cells.

Palo Alto Research Center

Reformer-less Oxygen Conducting Natural Gas Intermediate-Temperature Fuel Cell (RONIN)

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is developing an intermediate-temperature fuel cell that is capable of utilizing a wide variety of carbon-based input fuels such as methane, butane, propane, or coal without reformation. Current fuel cell technologies require the use of a reformer - which turns hydrocarbon fuels into hydrogen and can generate heat and produce gases. PARC's design will include a novel electrolyte membrane system that doesn't have a methane-to-hydrogen reformer, and transports oxygen in a form that allows it to react directly with almost any fuel. This new membrane system eliminates the need for a separate fuel processing system all while reducing overall costs. PARC's fuel cell will also operate at relatively low temperatures of 200-300ºC which allows it to use less expensive materials and maintain durability. With the use of these materials, the fuel cell system avoids the long-term durability problems associated with existing higher-temperature fuel cells, all while reducing overall costs.

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

Cold Sintering Composite Structures for Solid Lithium Ion Conductors

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) will develop a process for cold-sintering of ceramic ion conductors below 200°C to achieve a commercially viable process for integration into batteries. Compared to liquid electrolytes, ceramics and ceramic composites exhibit various advantages, such as lower flammability, and larger electrochemical and thermal stability. One challenge with traditional ceramics is the propagation of lithium dendrites, branchlike metal fibers that short-circuit battery cells. Penn State will create ceramic and ceramic/polymer composite electrolytes that resist dendrite growth by creating optimized microstructures via cold sintering. Sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass by heat and/or pressure without melting it to the point of changing it to a liquid, similar to pressing a snowball together from loose snow. However, the high temperature required for traditional sintering of ceramics limits opportunities for integration in electrochemical systems and leads to high processing costs. Cold-sintering below 200°C changes the ability to control grain boundaries within ceramic materials, creates opportunities to tune interfaces, and opens the door for integration of different materials. It also allows large area co-processing of organic and inorganic materials in a one-step process, leading to savings in fabricating costs by eliminating the separate ceramic sintering steps and high-temperature processing.

Pennsylvania State University

A Multi-Purpose, Intelligent, and Reconfigurable Battery Pack Health Management System

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is developing an innovative, reconfigurable design for electric vehicle battery packs that can re-route power in real time between individual cells. Much like how most cars carry a spare tire in the event of a blowout, today's battery packs contain extra capacity to continue supplying power, managing current, and maintaining capacity as cells age and degrade. Some batteries carry more than 4 times the capacity needed to maintain operation, or the equivalent of mounting 16 tires on a vehicle in the event that one tire goes flat. This overdesign is expensive and inefficient. Penn State's design involves unique methods of electrical reconfigurability to enable the battery pack to switch out cells as they age and weaken. The system would also contain control hardware elements to monitor and manage power across cells, identify damaged cells, and signal the need to switch them out of the circuit.

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.

Phononic Devices, Inc.

Advanced Semiconductor Materials for Thermoelectric Devices

Phononic Devices is working to recapture waste heat and convert it into usable electric power. To do this, the company is using thermoelectric devices, which are made from advanced semiconductor materials that convert heat into electricity or actively remove heat for refrigeration and cooling purposes. Thermoelectric devices resemble computer chips, and they manage heat by manipulating the direction of electrons at the nanoscale. These devices aren't new, but they are currently too inefficient and expensive for widespread use. Phononic Devices is using a high-performance, cost-effective thermoelectric design that will improve the device's efficiency and enable electronics manufacturers to more easily integrate them into their products.

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.

PolyPlus Battery Company

Flexible Solid Electrolyte Protected Lithium Metal Electrodes for Next Generation Batteries

PolyPlus Battery Company, in collaboration with SCHOTT Glass, will develop flexible, solid-electrolyte-protected lithium metal electrodes made by the lamination of lithium metal foil to thin solid electrolyte membranes that are highly conductive. Past efforts to improve lithium cycling by moving to solid-state structures based on polycrystalline ceramics have found limited success due to initiation and propagation of dendrites, which are branchlike metal fibers that short-circuit battery cells. A major benefit of the PolyPlus concept is that the lithium electrode is bonded to a "nearly flawless" glass surface which is devoid of grain boundaries or sufficiently large surface defects through which dendrites can initiate and propagate. These thin and flexible solid electrolyte membranes will be laminated to lithium metal foils, which can then be used to replace the graphite electrode and separators in commercial Li-ion batteries. The team's approach is based on electrolyte films made by commercial melt processing techniques, and they will work in close cooperation to develop compositions and processes suitable for high-volume, low-cost production of the lithium/glass laminate. The SCHOTT team will focus on glass composition and its relationship to physical properties while the PolyPlus team will determine electrochemical properties of the glass and provide this information to SCHOTT to further refine the glass composition. PolyPlus will also develop the Li/glass lamination process and work with the SCHOTT team on manufacturing and scale-up using high volume roll-to-roll processing.

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.

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.

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