ARPA-E Energy Innovation Showcase on the Hill
On July 18, 2023, Chairman Brandon Williams of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, Bipartisan Policy Center, and ClearPath hosted the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Showcase on the Hill in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Six ARPA-E project teams displayed their technology for Members of Congress, House and Senate staff, energy innovation leaders, members of the business community, and more. ARPA-E Director Evelyn Wang and Members of Congress addressed the audience and highlighted the importance of energy R&D.
ARPA-E performers Clemson University, Colorado State University, ION Storage Systems, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oklo, and X-energy showcased technologies focused on nuclear fission and fusion, building materials, and a crops with greater capacity to sequester CO2.
HESTIA project performer Clemson University displayed building blocks of their novel wood floor system. Regular floor and ceiling building materials are greenhouse-gas intensive, but Clemson’s mass timber floor system alternative is designed for carbon negativity through the entire building life cycle.
ROOTS project performer Colorado State University (CSU) showcased corn plants with enhanced root systems that are designed to be deeper below ground, thereby sequestering larger amounts of carbon. CSU’s technology aims to optimize how plants cycle carbon and nitrogen in soil. Root systems hold large amounts of carbon and remain in soil even after plants are harvested. A better understanding of plant genetic-environment interaction can help increase carbon uptake and improve agricultural productivity.
EVs4ALL project performer ION Storage Systems displayed their fast-charge, high-energy-density, solid-state battery being developed for a wide range of applications, including electric vehicles. Their technology meets the Department of Energy’s fast charge goals and has a lithium-metal anode formed on first charge, providing increased energy density for extended driving range in a cell format manufacturable at GWh scales. The team showcased calculators that are fully powered by this solid-state battery without heating or applied pressure necessary for operation.
GAMOW project performer Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated their integrated simulation environment, the Fusion Energy Reactor Models Integrator (FERMI). The current fusion reactor conceptual design cycle is lengthy and expensive. FERMI virtually simulates the first wall and blanket for power extraction and tritium breeding of the fusion design cycle, shortening the design process and reducing the cost of building fusion reactors.
ONWARDS program performer Oklo exhibited visuals of the development on their next-generation fission reactors to produce abundant, affordable, clean energy using used nuclear fuel, thereby reducing waste. Oklo is changing the economic paradigm for advanced fission with a commercial-scale fuel recycling facility.
GEMINA project performer X-energy featured a Digital Twin demonstration of their Xe-100 advanced nuclear reactor. The Digital Twin includes a physics-based simulation of the Xe-100 plant capable of full operations, as well as a 3D virtual reality simulation of the site giving users the ability to walk-through the plant and operate equipment in the field. X-energy achieved the GEMINA project’s objective to significantly reduce operations and maintenance costs for advanced nuclear reactors through digital engineering innovations and centralized maintenance models for plant staffing.
ARPA-E projects have the potential to radically improve U.S. economic prosperity, national security, and environmental well-being. This event was a fruitful opportunity to showcase the important work that ARPA-E does in advancing technology to market to shape our future energy landscape.