In 2023, Ampaire’s successful flight to Fairbanks marked the first-ever hybrid-electric flight to Alaska, as well as the first international hybrid-electric flight. Under ARPA-E’s CIRCUITS program, Ampaire developed a prototype hybrid electric flying testbed built upon Ampaire’s existing electric EEL concept aircraft. The flying testbed improved the functionality of the aircraft and provided a real-world flight test environment for other CIRCUITS technologies.
Under the SCALEUP program, Ampaire will develop an aircraft integration with hybrid electric powertrain subsystems that can be commercially certified and used by a portfolio of aircraft product applications.
In 2023, ARPA-E SEED Exploratory Topic awardee Heirloom Carbon received ARPA-E funding in 2021 for their transformative, low-cost approach for direct air mineralization of CO2. In November, they unveiled the first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility in the United States. Heirloom uses limestone to capture CO2 from the air, and its facility has a capture capacity of up to 1,000 tons of CO2 annually.
In 2023, ARPA-E DAYS program awardee Antora launched the world’s first dedicated manufacturing line for thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells. Antora’s thermal energy storage, parts of which were developed under the DAYS program, uses excess solar and wind electricity to heat blocks of carbon to glowing-hot temperatures, and discharges electricity or process heat up to 1500°C, on demand. To discharge energy, a novel, high efficiency thermophotovoltaics heat engine is exposed to hot blocks. The TPV cells Antora manufactures converts the intense heat radiated by the blocks into electricity.
In 2023, ARPA-E MARINER program awardee Ocean Rainforest obtained the first-ever offshore seaweed cultivation research permit in the U.S. for federal waters offshore of Santa Barbara, California. Its MacroSystems’ project goal is to demonstrate that the harvested macroalgae will contain five times the amount of energy relative to the amount of energy required to produce the biomass product.
In 2023, ARPA-E SEED Exploratory Topic awardee Brimstone’s decarbonized portland cement became the first to meet an essential building industry standard, unlocking the potential of net-zero construction. Brimstone’s cement achieved ASTM C150 certification. The Brimstone team developed a breakthrough carbon-negative process that produces the same cement and supplementary cementitious materials used worldwide in construction, today.
In 2023, ARPA-E OPEN 2021 awardee Fervo Energy announced it successfully completed a 30-day test, considered an industry standard for geothermal, at its commercial pilot plant in northern Nevada. In the test, Fervo drilled down drilled down to 7,700 feet and then turned to drill another 3,250 feet horizontally. The test at its pilot plant achieved conditions that would generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity production, the company said. A single megawatt is roughly enough electricity to meet the demand of 750 homes at once.
Since then, Fervo and Google announced their collaborative first-of-its-kind geothermal project is operational and producing carbon-free energy to the grid.