Blog Posts
Our mission at ARPA-E may not include a focus on searching for long-lost treasure or fabled civilizations, but we do focus on finding and developing untapped energy resources, particularly using transformative energy technology. With the same spirit of discovery as explorers who search for the wealth rumored to rest within Atlantis, we recently announced our own search for untapped energy generation resources that lie over the horizon. The difference is that we know these resources exist, and our ATLANTIS project teams are working to access those offshore wind energy resources unreachable by traditional fixed-bottom offshore wind turbine designs.

Blog Posts
Dr. Scott Hsu served as the Principal Investigator for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s ALPHA project from 2015-2018, where he led a team that designed and built a new, non-destructive driver technology that could enable more rapid experimentation and progress toward cost-effective fusion power. Now an ARPA-­E Program Director overseeing the ALPHA program’s conclusion and the development of new fusion programs, Dr. Hsu focuses on potentially transformative R&D to enable timely commercial fusion energy.

Blog Posts
We sat down with ARPA-E Program Director, Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh, as she reflected on her experience attending the very first ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit Student Program back in 2010.

Slick Sheet: Project
SAFCell is developing solid acid fuel cells (SAFCs) that operate at 250 °C and will be nearly free of precious metal catalysts. Current fuel cells either rely on ultra-pure hydrogen as a fuel and operate at low temperatures for vehicles technologies, or run on natural gas, but operate only at high temperatures for grid-scale applications. SAFCell’s fuel cell is utilizing a new solid acid electrolyte material to operate efficiently at intermediate temperatures and on multiple fuels.

Slick Sheet: Project
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is developing a low-cost, intermediate-temperature fuel cell that will also function like a battery to increase load-following capability. The fuel cell will use new metal-oxide electrode materials—inspired by the proton channels found in biological systems—that offer superior energy storage capacity and cycling stability, making it ideal for distributed generation systems. UCLA’s new materials also have high catalytic activity, which will lower the cost of the overall system.

Slick Sheet: Project
United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) is developing an intermediate-temperature fuel cell for residential applications that will combine a building’s heating and power systems into one unit. Existing fuel cell technologies usually focus on operating low temperatures for vehicle technologies or at high temperatures for grid-scale applications. By creating a metal-supported proton conducting fuel cell with a natural gas fuel processor, UTRC could lower the operating system temperatures to under 500 °C.

Slick Sheet: Project
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is redesigning a fuel cell electrode that operates at 250ºC. Today’s solid acid fuel cells (SAFCs) contain relatively inefficient cathodes, which require expensive platinum catalysts for the chemical reactions to take place. ORNL’s fuel cell will contain highly porous carbon nanostructures that increase the amount of surface area of the cell’s electrolyte, and substantially reduce the amount of catalyst required by the cell.

Slick Sheet: Project
Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a fuel cell that operates at temperatures less than 500°C by integrating nanostructured materials into all cell components. This is a departure from traditional fuel cells that operate at much lower or much higher temperatures. By developing multifunctional anodes that can efficiently reform and directly process methane, this fuel cell will allow for efficient use of methane. Additionally, the Georgia Tech team will develop nanocomposite electrolytes to reduce cell temperature without sacrificing system performance.

Slick Sheet: Project
Redox Power Systems is developing a fuel cell with a mid-temperature operating target of 400°C while maintaining high power density and enabling faster cycling. Current fuel cell systems are expensive and bulky, which limits their commercialization and widespread adoption for distributed generation and other applications. Such state-of-the-art systems consist of fuel cells that either use a mixture of ceramic oxide materials that require high temperatures (~800°C) for grid-scale applications or are polymer-based technology with prohibitive low temperature operation for vehicle technologies.

Slick Sheet: Project
FuelCell Energy will develop an intermediate-temperature fuel cell that will directly convert methane to methanol and other liquid fuels using advanced metal catalysts. Existing fuel cell technologies typically convert chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity during a chemical reaction with oxygen or some other agent. FuelCell Energy’s cell would create liquid fuel from natural gas. Their advanced catalysts are optimized to improve the yield and selectivity of methane-to-methanol reactions; this efficiency provides the ability to run a fuel cell on methane instead of hydrogen.