2022 Manufacturing Day Blog ARPA-E Thumbnail Welding

Pulling Back the Curtain on Manufacturing in Energy

For Manufacturing Day, ARPA-E takes you behind the scenes with three SCALEUP 2019 teams taking the next big step

The leaves are changing, the crisp Autumn air is arriving, and with it, the holidays! One holiday we are particularly excited about celebrating here at ARPA-E may not be on your radar. Today, ARPA-E is celebrating Manufacturing Day! Manufacturing Day is an opportunity for manufacturers to give folks a behind-the-scenes look into their manufacturing processes and how they have adapted in the modern era.

This year, we have decided to take a deep dive with three SCALEUP 2019 teams as they have gotten into full swing with scaling their manufacturing processes. The goal of SCALEUP is to translate the performance achieved at the lab-and bench-scale to commercially viable and scalable versions of the technology.

SCALEUP awardees Natron Energy, LongPath Technologies, and Finwave Semiconductor are all crossing this ‘scaling gap’ from the lab to the commercial marketplace. All three teams have manufacturing sites in the U.S. where they and their manufacturing partners produce and assemble their ARPA-E-funded technologies. They are developing high-risk and potentially disruptive new technologies that align with ARPA-E’s mission of promoting energy efficiency, supporting U.S. job growth, and enhancing U.S. energy security.

Natron Energy

Natron Energy has developed an innovative energy storage technology that uses sodium-ion cell containing Prussian blue electrodes. These batteries offer significantly higher power density, longer service life, and unique safety characteristics in comparison to existing technologies. Using ARPA-E funding, Natron is repurposing a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Holland, Michigan to manufacture their sodium-ion Prussian blue technology at scale. This has allowed Natron to bring new technology to market rapidly, as few manufacturing plants like this one exist in the world. Natron’s technology improves the performance and reliability of their customers - data centers and telecom networks - as well as the local electric grids servicing them, across the nation. Natron’s technology creates new engineering and manufacturing jobs that will in turn enable a U.S.-based supply chain that supports domestic energy security and technological competitiveness.

In this video, ARPA-E'S Acting Associate Director for Technology-to-Market Dr. Daniel Cunningham and Natron Energy CEO Dr. Colin Wessells explain how Natron's unique battery chemistry works and how they are poised to bring products to customers in a new manufacturing facility.

LongPath Technologies

It is important in the oil and gas industry to find and fix methane emissions to reduce industry inefficiencies, support climate mitigation efforts, and meet responsibly resourced gas (RSG) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics. Based in Boulder, Colorado, LongPath Technologies domestically assembles a low-cost, highly scalable, continuous methane emissions monitoring system based on a Nobel Prize winning dual frequency comb laser technology that detects, quantifies, and locates methane emissions across areas of 20+ square miles. Uniquely, LongPath brings their assembled technology right to their customers – natural gas production and distribution facilities – where they perform an install process that results in continuous monitoring of methane emissions with a minimal footprint. LongPath's technology allows their customers to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while creating engineering, assembly, and installation jobs here in the United States. During their SCALEUP awardee period, LongPath has grown from 8 to 37 employees (and climbing) with particular growth in skilled manufacturing and oilfield deployment personnel.

Finwave Semiconductor 

While 5G technology is poised to transform the wireless technology industry, it is challenged with issues of massive power consumption, electricity inefficiencies, high costs, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Finwave makes semiconductor products, incorporating their revolutionary 3DGaN™ FinFET technology, that overcomes these bottlenecks in the 5G industry, compared to existing 2D GaN transistors. Through their SCALEUP project, Finwave is transitioning the manufacturing of their 3DGaN™ FinFET commercial devices from the lab to a domestic 8” silicon wafer manufacturing plant located in the U.S. This is particularly necessary given the current domestic chip shortage. Scaling this technology will significantly improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create high-tech jobs in the U.S.!

These three awardees are working diligently to scale their manufacturing of energy efficient technologies to improve U.S. energy efficiency, support domestic energy security, and increase U.S. based manufacturing jobs. As we celebrate Manufacturing Day and the rest of the holiday season this Fall, we are excited to highlight these awardees who are manufacturing their hardware in the U.S. and sharing their technologies for a more energy efficient future.