U.S. Department of Energy Announces $30 Million to Develop High-Energy Storage Solutions to Electrify Domestic Aircraft, Railroads & Ships

ARPA-E Announces New Program to Advance Emission-Free, High-Energy Electrochemical Systems

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $30 million in funding to develop next-generation, high-energy storage solutions to help accelerate the electrification of the aviation, railroad, and maritime transportation sectors. The Pioneering Railroad, Oceanic and Plane ELectrification (PROPEL-1K) program—managed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)—aims to develop energy storage systems with “1K” solutions achieving 1000 Watt-hour per kilogram (Wh/kg) and 1000 Watt-hour per liter (Wh/L). This effort supports President Biden’s goal to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050.

“Developing next-generation energy storage technologies is essential to reaching the President’s ambitious goal to electrify the transportation sector and achieve a net-zero economy by mid-century,” said ARPA-E Director Evelyn N. Wang. “With this new program, ARPA-E is supporting exciting new ideas in pursuit of these ambitious targets.” 
Transportation is responsible for approximately 29% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually in the United States. Light duty vehicles—passenger and small commercial vehicles—account for 58% of transportation GHG emissions, and battery-powered electric vehicles have emerged as a lower-emissions solution for many applications.

The majority of the remaining 42% of transportation GHG emissions is attributed to long-distance trucking (23%), aviation (8%), railroads (2%), and maritime (3%). Batteries and fuel cells represent potential solutions. However, for heavy-duty vehicles, vessels and aircraft, the maximum achievable energy density for both existing and anticipated next-generation electrochemical energy storage technologies is currently too low.

In response, PROPEL-1K will motivate alternative approaches to energy storage to ultimately achieve a significant improvement compared to existing state-of-the-art options. The program aims to develop exceptionally high-energy storage solutions, capable of catalyzing broad electrification of the following sectors:

  • Aviation: Enable regional flight up to 1000 miles on aircraft transporting up to 100 people.
  • Railroads: Electrify all North American railroads and enable cross-country travel in the U.S. with fewer stops and reduced infrastructure required for charging/refueling.
  • Maritime: Enable the electrification of all vessels that operate exclusively in U.S. territorial waters.

Visit the ARPA-E eXCHANGE website for more information about PROPEL-1K, including key guidelines and dates for applicants. 


This release has been updated from its initial post.