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Accelerating Low-Cost Plasma Heating and Assembly

Fusion energy holds the promise of cheap, clean power production, but up to now scientists have been unable to successfully harness fusion as a power source due to complex scientific and technological challenges and the high cost of research. ARPA-E's ALPHA program seeks to create and demonstrate tools to aid in the development of new, lower-cost pathways to fusion power and to enable more rapid progress in fusion research and development.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight

High utilization of renewable energy is a vital component of our energy portfolio. Solar energy systems can provide secure energy with predictable future costs--largely unaffected by geopolitics and climate--because sunshine is widely available and free. The projects that comprise ARPA-E's FOCUS program, short for "Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight," could pave the way for cost-competitive hybrid solar energy systems that combine the advantages of existing photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Galvanizing Advances in Market-Aligned Fusion for an Overabundance of Watts

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and Office of Science–Fusion Energy Sciences (SC-FES) are overseeing a joint program, Galvanizing Advances in Market-aligned fusion for an Overabundance of Watts (GAMOW). ARPA-E will contribute up to $15 million in funding over a three-year program period, and FES will contribute up to $5 million per year for three years for qualifying technologies. GAMOW will prioritize R&D in (1) technologies and subsystems between the fusion plasma and balance of plant, (2) cost-effective, high-efficiency, high-duty-cycle driver technologies, and (3) cross-cutting areas such as novel fusion materials and advanced and additive manufacturing for fusion-relevant materials and components. Applicants should leverage and build on foundational SC-FES research programs in fusion materials, fusion nuclear science, plasma-materials interactions, and other enabling technologies, while ensuring that market-aware techno-economic analyses inform project goals.Awardees must work toward one or more of the following high-level program objectives:Demonstrate substantial progress toward technical feasibility and/or increases in performance compared to the current state of the art in the priority R&D areas.Enable significant device simplification or elimination of entire subsystems of commercially motivated fusion energy systems.Reduce fusion energy system costs, including those of critical materials and component testing.Improve the reliability, safety, and/or environmental attractiveness of fusion energy systems.

Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets

Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) aims to develop digital twin technology for advanced nuclear reactors and transform operations and maintenance (O&M) systems in the next generation of nuclear power plants. ARPA-E is looking for interdisciplinary teams to develop digital twins, or a similar technology, for an advanced reactor design as the foundation of their O&M strategy. Performers will design tools that introduce greater flexibility in reactor systems, increased autonomy in operations, and faster design iteration. The goal is to create a 10x reduction in O&M costs at advanced reactor power plants, thereby improving their economic competitiveness. To accomplish this, teams will apply diverse technologies that are driving efficiencies in other industries, such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced control systems, predictive maintenance, and model-based fault detection. Projects will focus on O&M solutions for the reactor core, balance of plant (BOP), or entire reactor plant system (including both the reactor core and BOP). Because advanced reactors are still in design phase, with no physical units operating, teams working on core operations will also develop cyber-physical systems that simulate advanced reactor core operating dynamics using a combination of non-nuclear experimental facilities (e.g., test or flow loops) and software. Teams will use these systems as the "real asset," a surrogate to test their digital twin platforms.

High Intensity Thermal Exchange through Materials, and Manufacturing Processes

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's HITEMMP (High Intensity Thermal Exchange through Materials and Manufacturing Processes) program will develop new approaches and technologies for the design and manufacture of high temperature, high pressure, efficient, and highly compact heat exchangers. Heat exchangers are critical to efficient thermal energy exchange in numerous industrial applications and everyday life, with valuable applications in electricity generation, transportation, petrochemical plants, waste heat recovery, and much more. HITEMMP projects target heat exchangers capable of operating for tens of thousands of hours in temperatures and pressures exceeding 800°C and 80 bar (1,160 psi) respectively. This new class of hardware, designed and manufactured using novel techniques, topologies, and materials, would enable far greater exchanger efficiency, thus boosting the performance of many important industrial processes.

Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science

The IDEAS program - short for Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science - provides a continuing opportunity for the rapid support of early-stage applied research to explore pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology. IDEAS awards, which are restricted to maximums of one year in duration and $500,000 in funding, are intended to be flexible and may take the form of analyses or exploratory research that provides the agency with information useful for the subsequent development of focused technology programs. IDEAS awards may also support proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the agency or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology program. This program identifies potentially disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies that challenge the status quo and represent a leap beyond today's technology. That said, an innovative concept alone is not enough. IDEAS projects must also represent a fundamentally new paradigm in energy technology and have the potential to significantly impact ARPA-E's mission areas.

Innovative Natural-gas Technologies for Efficiency Gain in Reliable and Affordable Thermochemical Electricity-generation

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's INTEGRATE (Innovative Natural-gas Technologies for Efficiency Gain in Reliable and Affordable Thermochemical Electricity-generation) program will develop natural gas fueled, distributed, ultra-high efficiency electrical generation systems. The program will focus on hybrid system designs that integrate a fuel cell with a heat or reactive engine, such as a gas turbine or a reciprocating internal combustion engine. The INTEGRATE program encourages the development and demonstration of integrated hybrid systems and/or enabling component technologies. Project teams will seek to develop devices that can generate electricity at greater than 70% efficiency while keeping system costs competitive at commercial scales of 100kW or greater. Projects will take advantage of the synergies between fuel cells and more traditional combustion engines. For example, some of the fuel that passes through a fuel cell will remain "unreacted." This leftover fuel can be used by an engine to produce combustion products that produce additional power--improving overall system efficiency. Because the engine can be used simultaneously to generate power and act as balance-of-plant for the fuel cell, eliminating the need for some components, system cost savings could be significant.

Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's MEITNER (Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration) program seek to identify and develop innovative technologies that can enable designs for lower cost, safer advanced nuclear reactors. These enabling technologies can establish the basis for a modern, domestic supply chain supporting nuclear technology. Projects will be improved and validated with advanced modeling and simulation tools, and project teams will have access to subject matter experts from nuclear and non-nuclear disciplines. An ARPA-E-provided Resource Team will coordinate sub-teams for modeling and simulation, techno-economic analysis, and subject matter expertise. Project teams will leverage these resources for modeling and simulation support, advanced technical information, design assistance, and information on the state of the art in relevant areas.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program are developing innovative technologies to cost-effectively and accurately locate and measure methane emissions associated with natural gas production. Such low-cost sensing systems are needed to reduce methane leaks anywhere from the wellpad to local distribution networks, reduce safety hazards, promote more efficient use of our domestic natural gas resources, and reduce the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) impact from natural gas development. In order to evaluate the performance of each MONITOR technology to locate and quantify fugitive methane emissions, the MONITOR Field Test Site will develop a representative test facility that simulates real-world natural gas operations--at the wellpad and further downstream. Specifically, the MONITOR Test Site supports the operation of a multi-user field test site for MONITOR performers to validate performance under realistic use-case scenarios--and meet the MONITOR program's required metrics related to localization, quantification, communications and cost. Data generated during the field tests will demonstrate the performance capabilities of the technologies and could be used by the MONITOR performers to accelerate the commercialization and/or regulatory approval of their technologies.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's MOVE Program, short for "Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy," are finding cost-effective ways to power passenger cars and other light-duty vehicles with America's abundant natural gas resources. Natural gas is currently less expensive than gasoline, and produces fewer harmful emissions than any other fossil fuel. Despite these advantages, significant technological and infrastructure barriers currently limit the use of natural gas as a major fuel source in the U.S. ARPA-E's MOVE projects are finding innovative ways to break through these barriers, creating practical and affordable natural gas storage tanks for passenger cars and quick-filling at-home refueling stations.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2009, ARPA-E issued an open call for the most revolutionary energy technologies to form the agency's inaugural program. The first open solicitation was open to ideas from all energy areas and focused on funding projects already equipped with strong research and development plans for their potentially high-impact technologies. The projects chosen received a level of financial support that could accelerate technical progress and catalyze additional investment from the private sector. After only 2 months, ARPA-E's investment in these projects catalyzed an additional $33 million in investments. In response to ARPA-E's first open solicitation, more than 3,700 concept papers flooded into the new agency, which were thoroughly reviewed by a team of 500 scientists and engineers in just 6 months. In the end, 36 projects were selected as ARPA-E's first award recipients, receiving $176 million in federal funding.
 For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2012, ARPA-E issued its second open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 4,000 concept papers for OPEN 2012, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 66 projects for its OPEN 2012 program, awarding them a total of $130 million in federal funding. OPEN 2012 projects cut across 11 technology areas: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, stationary power generation, water, as well as stationary, thermal, and transportation energy storage.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2015, ARPA-E issued its third open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 2,000 concept papers for OPEN 2015, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 41 projects for its OPEN 2015 program, awarding them a total of $125 million in federal funding. OPEN 2015 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, industrial processes and waste heat, data management and communication, wind, solar, tidal and distributed generation, grid scale storage, power electronics, power grid system performance, vehicle efficiency, storage for electric vehicles, and alternative fuels and bio-energy.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2018, ARPA-E issued its fourth open funding opportunity, designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received thousands of concept papers for OPEN 2018, which hundreds of scientists and engineers reviewed over the course of several months. ARPA-E selected 45 projects for its OPEN 2018 program, awarding them $112 million in federal funding. OPEN 2018 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, distributed generation, electrical efficiency, grid, grid storage, manufacturing efficiency, resource efficiency, transportation fuels, transportation energy conversion, and transportation vehicles.

Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies

The projects that comprise ARPA-E's REACT program, short for "Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies", are developing cost-effective alternatives to rare earths, the naturally occurring minerals with unique magnetic properties that are used in electric vehicle (EV) motors and wind generators. The REACT projects will identify low-cost and abundant replacement materials for rare earths while encouraging existing technologies to use them more efficiently. These alternatives would facilitate the widespread use of EVs and wind power, drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
  For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.    

Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems

SHARKS seeks to develop new technical pathways to design economically competitive Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) for tidal and riverine currents. These renewable energy resources are highly reliable, forecastable, and typically co-located with demand centers. HKTs are suited for both micro-grids that supply energy to remote communities without grid connections and utility-scale grid-connected applications. Despite these attractive qualities, current HKTs are too expensive for deployment due to technical challenges and harsh operational environments. This program seeks to fund new holistic HKT designs to reduce significantly their levelized cost of energy (LCOE). SHARKS encourages the application of control co-design (CCD), co-design (CD), and designing for operation and maintenance (DFO) methodologies. These three methodologies require a wide range of disciplines to work concurrently, as opposed to sequentially, during the concept design stage. In addition, technical and environmental challenges inhibiting the convergence of HKT designs require expertise from various scientific and engineering fields, necessitating the use of multi-disciplinary teams. These teams may include experts in hydrodynamics, mechanical design, materials, hydro-structural interactions, turbine and/or turbine array efficiency, system-level control solutions, power electronics, grid connection, numerical modeling, computer tools, and experimental validation. Projects will need to reduce the LCOE through multiple approaches, including increasing generation efficiency, increasing rotor area per unit of equivalent mass, lowering operation and maintenance costs, minimizing potential negative impacts on the surrounding environment, and maximizing system reliability among others. SHARKS is expected to span three years with $38M in funded projects.

Ultrahigh Temperature Impervious Materials Advancing Turbine Efficiency

The ULTIMATE program targets gas turbine applications in the power generation and aviation industries. ULTIMATE aims to develop ultrahigh temperature materials for gas turbines, enabling them to operate continuously at 1300 ºC (2372 ºF) in a stand-alone material test environment—or with coatings, enabling gas turbine inlet temperatures of 1800 ºC (3272 ºF) or higher. The successful materials must be able to withstand not only the highest temperature in a turbine but also the extreme stresses imposed on turbine blades. This program will concurrently develop manufacturing processes for turbine components using these materials, enabling complex geometries that can be seamlessly integrated in the system design. Environmental barrier coatings and thermal barrier coatings are within the scope of this program.ULTIMATE consists of two separate phases, which may be proposed for a maximum of 18 and 24 months, respectively. In phase I, project teams will demonstrate proof of concept of their alloy compositions, coatings, and manufacturing processes through modeling and laboratory scale tensile coupon (sample) testing of basic properties. In phase II, approved project teams will investigate selected alloy compositions and coatings to evaluate a comprehensive suite of physical, chemical, and mechanical properties as well as produce generic small-scale turbine blades to demonstrate manufacturability.

Accio Energy, Inc.

EHD Innovative Low-Cost Offshore Wind Energy

The team led by Accio Energy will develop an ElectroHydroDynamic (EHD) system that harvests energy from the wind through physical separation of charge rather than through rotation of an electric machine. The EHD technology entrains a mist of positively charged water droplets into the wind, which pulls the charge away from the electrically-grounded tower, thereby directly converting wind energy into a mounting voltage. The resulting High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) can then be transferred across higher efficiency power lines without the need for a generator, a gearbox, or costly high power AC-DC conversion required by traditional wind energy systems. The simple design of the EHD wind system is highly modular, and can be built with low-cost, mass manufacturing approaches. EHD systems also have minimal moving parts, and can be "containerized" for easy transport and installation at offshore sites. In contrast to the current trend for larger (and relatively expensive) turbines with increased power-per-tower, the EHD approach would utilize low-cost hardware with simple transport and installation, and native HVDC operation to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind. EHD technology can also operate at lower wind velocities than traditional turbines, and can thus increase the capacity factor at locations with highly variable winds. If successful, this project will demonstrate EHD technology as an entirely new option for offshore wind that offers a different path to cost effective utilization of a large renewable resource.

AltaRock Energy Inc.

Millimeter Wave Technology Demonstration for Geothermal Directed Energy Drilling

AltaRock Energy will overcome technical limitations to deep geothermal drilling by replacing mechanical methods with a Millimeter Wave (MMW) directed energy technology to melt and vaporize rocks for removal. This approach could increase drilling speed by 10 times or more, reducing costs while reaching higher temperatures and greater depths than those achievable with the best current and proposed mechanical technologies. Project R&D will include benchtop testing as well as larger scale demonstrations of directed MMW drilling at unprecedented borehole lengths and power levels. A detailed modeling and simulations campaign carried out with the experimental work will provide the basis for the design of larger, commercial-scale systems.

Aquanis, Inc.

Active Aerodynamic Load Control for Wind Turbines

Aquanis will develop advanced plasma actuators and controls to reduce aerodynamic loads on wind turbine blades, facilitating the next generation of larger (20+ MW), smarter wind turbines. The technology contains no moving parts, instead using purely electrical plasma actuators on the blade that set the adjacent air in motion when powered. This system can change the lift and drag forces on turbine blades to reduce blade mechanical fatigue and enable the design of larger and cheaper blades. Currently effective at laboratory scales, Aquanis plans to improve the plasma actuator capabilities and field test a prototype plasma actuator system on a wind turbine.


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