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Resource Efficiency

Advanced Research In Dry cooling

ARPA-E's Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) program comprises projects that are aimed at maintaining the efficiency of U.S. electric power generation, which otherwise could suffer due to regional water shortages. To achieve this objective, ARID project teams will create novel air-cooled heat exchangers, supplemental cooling systems, and/or cool-storage systems that can cost-effectively and efficiently dissipate, or reject, waste heat with no net water consumption. Project teams will design kilowatt-scale testing prototypes to ensure the technologies can scale up to the megawatt-cooling capacities of real systems without significant performance loss. If successful, these dry-cooling technologies will significantly reduce water use at power plants without sacrificing efficiency and with minimal additional costs.

For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

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 Materials and Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies

IMPACCT's projects seek to develop technologies for existing coal-fired power plants that will lower the cost of carbon capture. Short for "Innovative Materials and Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies," the IMPACCT program is geared toward minimizing the cost of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plant exhaust by developing materials and processes that have never before been considered for this application. Retrofitting coal-fired power plants to capture the CO2 they produce would enable greenhouse gas reductions without forcing these plants to close, shifting away from the inexpensive and abundant U.S. coal supply.

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.  

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.  

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.  

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.

Heat-Pipe PCM Based Cool Storage for Air-Cooled Systems

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) will work with Lehigh University, the University of Missouri, and Evapco, Inc. to design and build a novel cool storage system that will increase the efficiency of a plant's dry-cooling system. During the day, the system will transfer waste heat from the plant's heated condenser water via an array of heat pipes to a cool storage unit containing a phase-change material (PCM). The planned PCMs are salt hydrates that can be tailored to store and release large amounts of thermal energy, offering a way to store waste heat until it can be efficiently rejected. When temperatures are lower, such as at night, a novel system of self-agitated fins will be used to promote mixing and enhance heat transfer to air. The effectiveness of the fins will allow a reduction in the size of the storage media and the power required to operate it, both of which could lower costs for the system. Because the PCM materials are salts, their storage temperature can be tuned by changing the water content. Therefore, the storage system can potentially be customized to provide supplemental dry cooling for different climates, including regions with high ambient temperatures, such as the southwestern United States.

Aeris Technologies, Inc.

Autonomous, High Accuracy Natural Gas Leak Detection System

Aeris Technologies, Inc. (Aeris) will partner with Rice University and Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop a complete methane leak detection system that allows for highly sensitive, accurate methane detection at natural gas systems. The team will combine its novel compact spectrometer based on a mid-infrared laser, its patent-pending multi-port sampling system, and an advanced computational approach to leak quantification and localization. Their approach will use artificial neural networks and dispersion models to quantify and locate leaks with increased accuracy and reduced computational time for use in a diverse range of meteorological conditions and wellpad configurations. At each wellpad, a control unit will house the core sensor, a computing unit to process data, and wireless capability to transmit leak information to an operator, while the multi-port gas-sampling system will be distributed across the wellpad. Aeris' goal is to be able to detect and measure methane leaks smaller than 1 ton per year from a 10 meter by 10 meter site. At this level of sensitivity, which is in the ppb range, Aeris estimates that its system can facilitate a 90% reduction in fugitive methane emissions. Compared to current monitoring systems that can cost $25,000 annually, Aeris' goal is a cost of $3,000 or less a year to operate.

Ames National Laboratory

Novel High Energy Permanent Magnet Without Critical Elements

Ames Laboratory is developing a new class of permanent magnets based on the more commonly available element cerium for use in both EVs and renewable power generators. Cerium is 4 times more abundant and significantly less expensive than the rare earth element neodymium, which is frequently used in today's most powerful magnets. Ames Laboratory will combine other metal elements with cerium to create a new magnet that can remain stable at the high temperatures typically found in electric motors. This new magnetic material will ultimately be demonstrated in a prototype electric motor, representing a cost-effective and efficient alternative to neodymium-based motors.

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA)

Active Cooling Thermally Induced Vapor-Polymerization Effect (ACTIVE)

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) will design and fabricate a dry-cooling system that overcomes the inherent thermodynamic performance penalty of air-cooled systems, particularly under high ambient temperatures. ARA's ACTIVE cooling technology uses a polymerization thermochemical cycle to provide supplemental cooling and cool storage that can work as a standalone system or be synchronized with air-cooled units to cool power plant condenser water. The cool storage will be completed in two stages. During the day, the cool storage is maintained near the ambient temperature, and then at night the remainder of cooling can be done using the low temperature nighttime air. The cool storage unit is then ready for plant condenser reuse the next day. This technology will provide power plant condensers with return water at the necessary temperature levels to maintain power production at their optimum thermal efficiency.

Argonne National Laboratory

Nanocomposite Exchange-Spring Magnets for Motor and Generator Applications

ANL is developing a cost-effective exchange-spring magnet to use in the electric motors of wind generators and EVs that uses no rare earth materials. This ANL exchange-spring magnet combines a hard magnetic outer shell with a soft magnetic inner core-coupling these together increases the performance (energy density and operating temperature). The hard and soft magnet composite particles would be created at the molecular level, followed by consolidation in a magnetic field. This process allows the particles to be oriented to maximize the magnetic properties of low-cost and abundant metals, eliminating the need for expensive imported rare earths. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new type of magnet in a prototype electric motor.

Arizona State University

Energy Efficient Electrochemical Capture and Release of Carbon Dioxide

ASU is developing an innovative electrochemical technology for capturing the CO2 released by coal-fired power plants. ASU's technology aims to cut both the energy requirements and cost of CO2 capture technology in half compared to today's best methods. Presently, the only proven commercially viable technology for capturing CO2 from coal plants uses a significant amount of energy, consuming roughly 40% of total power plant output. If installed today, this technology would increase the cost of electricity production by 85%. ASU is advancing a fundamentally new paradigm for CO2 capture using novel electrochemical reactants to separate and capture CO2. This process could be easily scaled and integrated in conventional fossil fuel power generation facilities.


A High Efficiency Inertial CO2 Extraction System

Researchers at ATK and ACENT Laboratories are developing a device that relies on aerospace wind-tunnel technologies to turn CO2 into a condensed solid for collection and capture. ATK's design incorporates a special nozzle that converges and diverges to expand flue gas, thereby cooling it off and turning the CO2 into solid particles which are removed from the system by a cyclonic separator. This technology is mechanically simple, contains no moving parts and generates no chemical waste, making it inexpensive to construct and operate, readily scalable, and easily integrated into existing facilities. The increase in the cost to coal-fired power plants associated with introduction of this system would be 50% less than current technologies.

Baldor Electric Company

Rare-Earth-Free Traction Motor for Electric Vehicle Applications

Baldor is developing a new type of traction motor with the potential to efficiently power future generations of EVs. Unlike today's large, bulky EV motors which use expensive, imported rare-earth-based magnets, Baldor's motor could be light, compact, contain no rare earth materials, and have the potential to deliver more torque at a substantially lower cost. Key innovations in this project include the use of a unique motor design, incorporation of an improved cooling system, and the development of advanced materials manufacturing techniques. These innovations could significantly reduce the cost of an electric motor.

Bridger Photonics, Inc

Mobile LiDAR Sensor for Rapid and Sensitive Methane Leak Detection Applications

Bridger Photonics, Inc. (Bridger) plans to build a mobile methane sensing system capable of surveying a 10 meter by 10 meter well platform in just over five minutes with precision that exceeds existing technologies used for large-scale monitoring. Bridger's complete light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing system will use a novel, near-infrared fiber laser amplifier in a system mounted on a ground vehicle or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which can be programmed to survey multiple wellpads a day. Data captured by the LiDAR system will provide 3-D topographic and methane absorption imagery using integrated inertial navigation and global positioning system data to show precisely where a methane leak may be occurring and at what rate. This approach will also be used to identify objects on the wellsite to better inform the search optimization. Bridger's goal is for its devices to be able to service up to 85 sites, and thus cost $1,400 to $2,220 a year to operate per wellsite. By advancing an affordable methane detection system that can both pinpoint and assess leakage quickly, Bridger's system could help companies repair methane leaks and catalyze an overall reduction in methane emissions from natural gas development.

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Superconducting Wires for Direct-Drive Wind Generators

Brookhaven National Laboratory is developing a low-cost superconducting wire that could be used in high-power wind generators. Superconducting wire currently transports 600 times more electric current than a similarly sized copper wire, but is significantly more expensive. Brookhaven National Laboratory will develop a high-performance superconducting wire that can handle significantly more electrical current, and will demonstrate an advanced manufacturing process that has the potential to yield a several-fold reduction in wire costs while using a using negligible amount of rare earth material. This design has the potential to make a wind turbine generator lighter, more powerful, and more efficient, particularly for offshore applications.

Case Western Reserve University

Transformation Enabled Nitride Magnets Absent Rare Earths (TEN Mare)

Case Western is developing a highly magnetic iron-nitride alloy to use in the magnets that power electric motors found in EVs and renewable power generators. This would reduce the overall price of the motor by eliminating the expensive imported rare earth minerals typically found in today's best commercial magnets. The iron-nitride powder is sourced from abundant and inexpensive materials found in the U.S. The ultimate goal of this project is to demonstrate this new magnet system, which contains no rare earths, in a prototype electric motor. This could significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. each year by encouraging the use of clean alternatives to oil and coal.

Ceramatec, Inc.

Natural Gas to Chemicals via Reactive Separation

Ceramatec is developing a small-scale reactor to convert natural gas into benzene-a feedstock for industrial chemicals or liquid fuels. Natural gas as a byproduct is highly abundant, readily available, and inexpensive. Ceramatec's reactor will use a one-step chemical conversion process to convert natural gas into benzene. This one-step process is highly efficient and prevents the build-up of solid residue that can occur when gas is processed. The benzene that is produced can be used as a starting material for nylons, polycarbonates, polystyrene, epoxy resins, and as a component of gasoline.

Codexis, Inc.

Low-Cost Biological Catalyst to Enable Efficient Carbon Dioxide Capture

Codexis is developing new and efficient forms of enzymes known as carbonic anhydrases to absorb CO2 more rapidly and under challenging conditions found in the gas exhaust of coal-fired power plants. Carbonic anhydrases are common and are among the fastest enzymes, but they are not robust enough to withstand the harsh environment found in the power plant exhaust steams. In this project, Codexis will be using proprietary technology to improve the enzymes' ability to withstand high temperatures and large swings in chemical composition. The project aims to develop a carbon-capture process that uses less energy and less equipment than existing approaches. This would reduce the cost of retrofitting today's coal-fired power plants.


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