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ARPA-E focuses on next-generation energy innovation to create a sustainable energy future. The agency provides R&D support to businesses, universities, and national labs to develop technologies that could fundamentally change the way we get, use, and store energy. Since 2009, ARPA-E has provided approximately $2 billion in support to more than 800 energy technology projects. In January, we introduced a new series to highlight the transformational technology our project teams are developing across the energy portfolio. Check out these projects turning ideas into reality.

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ARPA-E strives for excellence in both program development and program integration, to encourage new discussions and new perspectives.  This approach was on display at the recent ARPA-E “Ocean Week,” held from January 28-30, in Washington.  This three-day voyage into ARPA-E’s ocean-focused programs consisted of three events: The Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) Program Review, the Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) Program Kickoff, and a Submarine Hydrokinetic Industry Day.

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Newest ARPA-E Program Director Dr. Robert (Bob) J. Ledoux’s professional experience ranges from professor to entrepreneur and his patents from nonintrusive cargo inspection to medical technologies. Recently we had a chance to visit with Dr. Ledoux to discuss how he will bring his experience to bear to further ARPA-E’s mission.

Slick Sheet: Project
Ocean Renewable Power Company, Inc. (ORPC) has led the development of crossflow turbine hydrokinetic technology worldwide. Multiple systems have demonstrated reliability over extended periods. The specific power of the present systems is low, however, leading to a high levelized cost of energy. ORPC proposes to develop an improved low-cost system using CCD and design for operation techniques. This novel hydrokinetic energy system will identify dynamic couplings between turbine subsystems and components to optimize system mass and performance. The new systems will be deployed in arrays.

Slick Sheet: Project
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will expand its open-source Wind Energy with Integrated Servo-control (WEIS) toolbox to include control co-design capabilities of tidal and riverine hydrokinetic turbines. This new toolbox will enable the conception, design, simulation, and optimization of control co-designed hydrokinetic systems. The toolbox will facilitate innovation in the hydrokinetic turbine industry, allowing for less expensive and more reliable turbines.

Slick Sheet: Project
Underwater kite systems offer the promise of energy capture from tidal power with minimal structural costs. Current approaches are not scaled for small communities, however. SRI International will team with the University of California at Berkeley, which has facilities for hydrodynamic testing and experience with environmental issues and community engagement, to realize a system that is appropriate for small communities. SRI’s proposed Manta kite system is simple and based on the payout and reel-in pumping action of a kite.

Slick Sheet: Project
Emrgy, Inc., and its partners are implementing “dynamic tuning” of the HKT system to optimize performance across variable water flow conditions and implement new control algorithms at the system level to optimize array performance. Successful implementation may deliver LCOE of $0.07-0.10/kWh depending on deployment location. Broad deployment of the technology platform in riverine, tidal, and manmade canal resources may displace 1-2 Quads/year of traditional carbon-based generation and 150-300 gigatons of carbon production.

Slick Sheet: Project
The bottom, sides, and surface of rivers and tidal channels confine water flow, which significantly alters the operation of river and tidal turbines. As turbines harness the momentum of the moving water, they alter the flow around them—water passing through the blades of the turbine is slowed while water passing around the blades speeds up. When the area that a turbine array presents to the flow is an appreciable fraction of the channel cross-sectional area, changes to the flow increase array power output and efficiency.

Slick Sheet: Project
To advance in-current marine and riverine hydrokinetic energy conversion through a step change in levelized cost of energy, Littoral Power Systems, Inc., and its partners propose to design, fabricate, and test a novel in-current hydrokinetic energy turbine device that imposes no net torque on the mooring. It is a submersed buoyant vehicle on a single flexible tether that flies a turbine up in the water column.

Slick Sheet: Project
The project team, led by the University of Michigan, proposes the RAFT concept as a solution for hydrokinetic energy harvesting. The project aims to develop multi-physics models, design processes, and optimization tools; augment control and system health monitoring algorithms; demonstrate novel RAFT concepts; and deliver an integrated solution for riverine and tidal applications. The project team brings expertise in hydrodynamics, structures, electrical systems, iterative optimization, and control co-design.