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Hydraulically Actuated Near-Isothermal Compressor

Otherlab
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$998,757
Location: 
San Francisco, CA
Project Term: 
02/19/2019 to 03/17/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Gas compression is a significant energy end use in many industrial applications. Many gas compressors operate adiabatically; the temperature of the gas increases through the compression processes, raising the required energy input. However, by transferring heat from the gas as it is compressed, and thereby holding the gas at a near constant temperature, the required work input may be substantially reduced.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Otherlab is developing a near-isothermal gas compressor that has the potential to use 40% less energy than state-of-the-art near-adiabatic devices. Their compressor will employ a high-surface-area heat exchanger to achieve a near-isothermal compression process. During this effort, Otherlab seeks to demonstrate the thermodynamic performance of its concept in a subscale prototype device. If successful, Otherlab's concept has the potential to offer compelling energy efficiency benefits in many major industrial sectors.
Potential Impact: 
Otherlab aims to realize the energy benefits associated with near-isothermal compression technology with a scalable and cost-effective compressor concept. Their target is to double the efficiency of a comparable state-of-the-art (near-adiabatic) compressor at similar cost.
Security: 
U.S. leadership on a broadly-applicable fundamental energy technology will be maintained.
Environment: 
The proposed technology enables oil-free compression, making it applicable not only to all fields where clean gas is needed, but also where extra-clean air is required (i.e., medical, dental, and clean room applications).
Economy: 
Eighty-two percent of U.S. industries use some form of compressed air. Combining the possible implications to all industries, this transformative technology impacts more than 5 quads of the U.S. energy economy, allowing for notable efficiency improvements.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. David Tew
Project Contact: 
Dr. Adrien Benusiglio
Release Date: 
11/15/2018