ARPA-E Calls for Second Round of Innovative Energy Technology Solutions
ARPA-E | Published: 29 January 2013
The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) issued an open call for funding to explore the most innovative ideas in energy, which has resulted in the selection of 66 cutting-edge research projects to receive a total of $130 million. The goal of ARPA-E is to seek out transformational, breakthrough technologies that show fundamental technical promise but are too early for private-sector investment. These projects have the potential to produce game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and have large commercial impacts. ARPA-E’s second open funding announcement, “Open 2012,” called for applications from the best and brightest minds at the country’s top universities, labs, and businesses to help solve the energy challenges of this generation.
The OPEN 2012 projects focus on a wide array of technologies, including advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, and energy storage. The projects were selected through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of full applications. The strategic direction of the agency is illustrated through the examples of new projects:
- Improved Manufacturing for High-Performance Magnets (Electron Energy Corporation, Landisville, PA: $2,904,000). This program is developing a technology to manufacture permanent magnets that are both stronger and lower cost than those available today, based on a friction consolidation extrusion process. If successful, this technology would supply the growing market of wind turbine generators and electric vehicle motors with alternative higher-performance materials compared to the imported rare earth magnets currently used in these machines.
- Low-Cost, High-Temperature Superconducting Wires (Grid Logic Incorporated, Lapeer, MI: $3,800,000). Grid Logic is developing a low-cost and innovative superconducting wire for electric utility applications. Using a new manufacturing technique, the researchers will embed very fine superconducting particles in a combination of metals to induce superconductivity. Such a wire would reduce the cost of transmission lines, motors for wind turbines, and other electric devices.
- Novel Dry Cooling Technology for Power Plants (University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND: $472,586). This research group is developing an air-cooled device for power plants that help maintain water and power efficiency during electricity production with low environmental impact. The University of North Dakota’s device uses an air-cooled adsorbent liquid that retains and releases moisture to cool power plants that could result in efficient power production with minimal water loss.
ARPA-E’s first funding opportunity, “OPEN 2009,” occurred three years ago and these projects are already showing impact. For example, one of the projects demonstrated the world’s first 400 Wh/kg lithium-ion battery poised to revolutionize the electric vehicle industry. Another project built a wind turbine that could deliver 300% more power than existing turbines of the same size and cost. To date, ARPA-E’s total portfolio is about 285 projects for a total of approximately $770 million in awards.