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In today's increasingly electrified world, power conversion--the process of converting electricity between different currents, voltage levels, and frequencies--forms a vital link between the electronic devices we use every day and the sources of power required to run them. The projects that make up ARPA-E's ADEPT program, short for "Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology," are paving the way for more energy efficient power conversion and advancing the basic building blocks of power conversion: circuits, transistors, inductors, transformers, and capacitors.
Fusion energy holds the promise of cheap, clean power production, but up to now scientists have been unable to successfully harness fusion as a power source due to complex scientific and technological challenges and the high cost of research. ARPA-E's ALPHA program seeks to create and demonstrate tools to aid in the development of new, lower-cost pathways to fusion power and to enable more rapid progress in fusion research and development.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's AMPED Program, short for "Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices," seek to develop advanced sensing, control, and power management technologies that redefine the way we think about battery management. Energy storage can significantly improve U.S. energy independence, efficiency, and security by enabling a new generation of electric vehicles. While rapid progress is being made in new battery materials and storage technologies, few innovations have emerged in the management of advanced battery systems. AMPED aims to unlock enormous untapped potential in the performance, safety, and lifetime of today's commercial battery systems exclusively through system-level innovations, and is thus distinct from existing efforts to enhance underlying battery materials and architectures.
ARPA-E's Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) program comprises projects that are aimed at maintaining the efficiency of U.S. electric power generation, which otherwise could suffer due to regional water shortages. To achieve this objective, ARID project teams will create novel air-cooled heat exchangers, supplemental cooling systems, and/or cool-storage systems that can cost-effectively and efficiently dissipate, or reject, waste heat with no net water consumption. Project teams will design kilowatt-scale testing prototypes to ensure the technologies can scale up to the megawatt-cooling capacities of real systems without significant performance loss. If successful, these dry-cooling technologies will significantly reduce water use at power plants without sacrificing efficiency and with minimal additional costs.
The U.S. spends nearly a $1 billion per day to import petroleum, but we need dramatically better batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (EV/PHEV) to truly compete with gasoline-powered cars. The projects in ARPA-E's BEEST program, short for "Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation," could make that happen by developing a variety of rechargeable battery technologies that would enable EV/PHEVs to meet or beat the price and performance of gasoline-powered cars, and enable mass production of electric vehicles that people will be excited to drive.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's BEETIT program, short for "Building Energy Efficiency Through Innovative Thermodevices," are developing new approaches and technologies for building cooling equipment and air conditioners. These projects aim to drastically improve building energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2) at a cost comparable to current technologies.
Methods for storing electricity for the electric power system (i.e. the grid) are developing rapidly, but widespread adoption of these technologies requires real-world data about their performance, economic benefit, and long-term reliability. The CHARGES program, short for "Cycling Hardware to Analyze and Ready Grid-Scale Electricity Storage," establishes two sites where ARPA-E-funded battery technologies will be tested under conditions designed to represent not just today's applications, but also the demands of tomorrow's electric power system. The program will establish realistic duty cycles for storage devices on a microgrid, and test them in both a controlled environment and under realistic microgrid operating conditions. The objective of the CHARGES program is to accelerate the commercialization of electrochemical energy storage systems developed in current and past ARPA-E-funded research efforts. The program aims to help ARPA-E-funded battery development teams improve their storage technologies to deliver substantial economic benefit under real-world conditions, both now and in the future.
The projects in ARPA-E's DELTA Program, short for "Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities," aim to reduce the costs for heating and cooling buildings by developing Localized Thermal Management Systems (LTMS). LTMS modify the physical space around the human body rather than the entire building, with significant energy savings for both new and old buildings. Such technologies range from on-body wearable devices to off-body installed systems and provide more options for maintaining occupant comfort within buildings. ARPA-E's DELTA projects include a broad range of LTMS approaches that potentially enable energy savings of upwards of 2% of the total domestic energy supply and similar reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
ARPA-E's Electrofuels program is using microorganisms to create liquid transportation fuels in a new and different way that could be up to 10 times more energy efficient than current biofuel production methods. ARPA-E is the only U.S. government agency currently funding research on electrofuels.
High utilization of renewable energy is a vital component of our energy portfolio. Solar energy systems can provide secure energy with predictable future costs--largely unaffected by geopolitics and climate--because sunshine is widely available and free. The projects that comprise ARPA-E's FOCUS program, short for "Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight," could pave the way for cost-competitive hybrid solar energy systems that combine the advantages of existing photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies.
The projects in ARPA-E's GENI program, short for "Green Electricity Network Integration," aim to modernize the way electricity is transmitted in the U.S. through advances in hardware and software for the electric grid. These advances will improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transmission, increase the amount of renewable energy the grid can utilize, and provide energy suppliers and consumers with greater control over their power flows in order to better manage peak power demand and cost.
The GENSETS program aims to develop transformative generator technologies to enable widespread deployment of residential combined heat and power (CHP) systems. These small, natural gas-fueled systems can fulfill most of a US household's electricity and hot water needs, and if widely used could increase the overall efficiency of power generation in the US, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms (GRID DATA) program will fund the development of large-scale, realistic, validated, and open-access power system network models. These models will have the detail required to allow the successful development and testing of transformational power system optimization and control algorithms, including new Optimal Power Flow (OPF) algorithms. Project teams will take one of two tracks to develop models. The first option is to partner with a utility to collect and then anonymize real data as the basis for a model that can be released publically. The second approach is to construct purely synthetic power system models. The program will also fund the creation of an open-access, self-sustaining repository for the storage, annotation, and curation of these power systems models, as well as others generated by the community.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's GRIDS program, short for "Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage," are developing storage technologies that can store renewable energy for use at any location on the grid at an investment cost less than $100 per kilowatt hour. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.
The projects that make up ARPA-E's HEATS program, short for "High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage," seek to develop revolutionary, cost-effective ways to store thermal energy. HEATS focuses on 3 specific areas: 1) developing high-temperature solar thermal energy storage capable of cost-effectively delivering electricity around the clock and thermal energy storage for nuclear power plants capable of cost-effectively meeting peak demand, 2) creating synthetic fuel efficiently from sunlight by converting sunlight into heat, and 3) using thermal energy storage to improve the driving range of electric vehicles (EVs) and also enable thermal management of internal combustion engine vehicles.
The IDEAS program - short for Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science - provides a continuing opportunity for the rapid support of early-stage applied research to explore pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology. IDEAS awards, which are restricted to maximums of one year in duration and $500,000 in funding, are intended to be flexible and may take the form of analyses or exploratory research that provides the agency with information useful for the subsequent development of focused technology programs. IDEAS awards may also support proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the agency or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology program. This program identifies potentially disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies that challenge the status quo and represent a leap beyond today's technology. That said, an innovative concept alone is not enough. IDEAS projects must also represent a fundamentally new paradigm in energy technology and have the potential to significantly impact ARPA-E's mission areas.
IMPACCT's projects seek to develop technologies for existing coal-fired power plants that will lower the cost of carbon capture. Short for "Innovative Materials and Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies," the IMPACCT program is geared toward minimizing the cost of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plant exhaust by developing materials and processes that have never before been considered for this application. Retrofitting coal-fired power plants to capture the CO2 they produce would enable greenhouse gas reductions without forcing these plants to close, shifting away from the inexpensive and abundant U.S. coal supply.
Today's growing demand for electricity from carbon-free, renewable resources and for alternatives to petroleum as a transportation fuel has led to a strong desire for cost-effective and durable energy storage and conversion products. The projects that make up ARPA-E's IONICS program, short for "Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids," are paving the way for technologies that overcome the limitations of current battery and fuel cell products by creating high performance separators and electrodes built with solid ion conductors. The program will focus on developing new processing methods and approaches to device integration to accelerate devices built with high performance ion-conducting solids to commercial deployment.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's METALS program, short for "Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advances in Light Metal Systems," aim to find cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals for lightweight vehicles and aircraft. Processing light metals such as aluminum, titanium, and magnesium more efficiently would enable competition with incumbent structural metals like steel to manufacture vehicles and aircraft that meet demanding fuel efficiency standards without compromising performance or safety.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program are developing innovative technologies to cost-effectively and accurately locate and measure methane emissions associated with natural gas production. Such low-cost sensing systems are needed to reduce methane leaks anywhere from the wellpad to local distribution networks, reduce safety hazards, promote more efficient use of our domestic natural gas resources, and reduce the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) impact from natural gas development.
In order to evaluate the performance of each MONITOR technology to locate and quantify fugitive methane emissions, the MONITOR Field Test Site will develop a representative test facility that simulates real-world natural gas operations--at the wellpad and further downstream. Specifically, the MONITOR Test Site supports the operation of a multi-user field test site for MONITOR performers to validate performance under realistic use-case scenarios--and meet the MONITOR program's required metrics related to localization, quantification, communications and cost. Data generated during the field tests will demonstrate the performance capabilities of the technologies and could be used by the MONITOR performers to accelerate the commercialization and/or regulatory approval of their technologies.
ARPA-E's MOSAIC program seeks to develop technologies and concepts that will lower the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems and improve their performance. Project teams will develop micro-scale concentrated photovoltaic systems (CPV) that are similar in cost and size to conventional solar PV systems, but with greatly increased performance levels. Multidisciplinary teams will leverage expertise in conventional flat-plate PV, CPV, manufacturing, optical engineering, and material science to produce a new class of PV panels. If successful, these technologies could facilitate cost-effective deployment of solar power systems across a wide range of geographical locations, lowering U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on imported energy.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's MOVE Program, short for "Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy," are finding cost-effective ways to power passenger cars and other light-duty vehicles with America's abundant natural gas resources. Natural gas is currently less expensive than gasoline, and produces fewer harmful emissions than any other fossil fuel. Despite these advantages, significant technological and infrastructure barriers currently limit the use of natural gas as a major fuel source in the U.S. ARPA-E's MOVE projects are finding innovative ways to break through these barriers, creating practical and affordable natural gas storage tanks for passenger cars and quick-filling at-home refueling stations.
Recent rapid advances in driver assistance technologies and the deployment of vehicles with increased levels of connectivity and automation have created multiple opportunities to improve the efficiency of future vehicle fleets beyond in new ways. The projects that make up ARPA-E's NEXTCAR Program, short for "NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles," are enabling technologies that use connectivity and automation to co-optimize vehicle dynamic controls and powertrain operation, thereby reducing energy consumption of the vehicle. Vehicle dynamic and powertrain control technologies, implemented on a single vehicle basis, across a cohort of cooperating vehicles, or across the entire vehicle fleet, could significantly improve individual vehicle and, ultimately, fleet energy efficiency.
The Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) Program aspires to enable renewables penetration at the 50% level or greater, by developing transformational grid management and control methods to create a virtual energy storage system based on use of flexible load and distributed energy resources (DERs). The challenge is to cost-effectively and reliably manage dynamic changes in the grid by leveraging these additional grid resources, while maintaining customer quality of service. The expected benefits include reduced periods of costly peak demand, reduced energy waste and increased penetration of renewable energy production. The NODES Program will bring together different scientific communities such as power systems, control systems, computer science, and distributed systems to accelerate the development of new technologies enabling active control of load and DERs in coordination with the grid.
In 2009, ARPA-E issued an open call for the most revolutionary energy technologies to form the agency's inaugural program. The first open solicitation was open to ideas from all energy areas and focused on funding projects already equipped with strong research and development plans for their potentially high-impact technologies. The projects chosen received a level of financial support that could accelerate technical progress and catalyze additional investment from the private sector. After only 2 months, ARPA-E's investment in these projects catalyzed an additional $33 million in investments. In response to ARPA-E's first open solicitation, more than 3,700 concept papers flooded into the new agency, which were thoroughly reviewed by a team of 500 scientists and engineers in just 6 months. In the end, 36 projects were selected as ARPA-E's first award recipients, receiving $176 million in federal funding.
In 2012, ARPA-E issued its second open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 4,000 concept papers for OPEN 2012, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 66 projects for its OPEN 2012 program, awarding them a total of $130 million in federal funding. OPEN 2012 projects cut across 11 technology areas: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, stationary power generation, water, as well as stationary, thermal, and transportation energy storage.
In 2015, ARPA-E issued its third open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 2,000 concept papers for OPEN 2015, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 41 projects for its OPEN 2015 program, awarding them a total of $125 million in federal funding. OPEN 2015 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, industrial processes and waste heat, data management and communication, wind, solar, tidal and distributed generation, grid scale storage, power electronics, power grid system performance, vehicle efficiency, storage for electric vehicles, and alternative fuels and bio-energy.
The 10 projects that comprise ARPA-E's PETRO program, short for "Plants Engineered to Replace Oil," aim to develop non-food crops that directly produce transportation fuel. These crops can help supply the transportation sector with plant-derived fuels that are cost-competitive with petroleum and do not affect U.S. food supply. PETRO aims to redirect the processes for energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) capture in plants toward fuel production. This would create dedicated energy crops that serve as a domestic alternative to petroleum-based fuels and deliver more energy per acre with less processing prior to the pump.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's RANGE Program, short for "Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems," seek to develop transformational electrochemical energy storage technologies that will accelerate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles by dramatically improving their driving range, cost, and safety. RANGE focuses on four specific areas 1) aqueous batteries constructed using water to improve safety and reduce costs, 2) non-aqueous batteries that incorporate inherent protection mechanisms that ensure no harm to vehicle occupants in the event of a collision or fire, 3) solid-state batteries that use no liquids or pastes in their construction, and 4) multifunctional batteries that contribute to both vehicle structure and energy storage functions.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's REACT program, short for "Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies", are developing cost-effective alternatives to rare earths, the naturally occurring minerals with unique magnetic properties that are used in electric vehicle (EV) motors and wind generators. The REACT projects will identify low-cost and abundant replacement materials for rare earths while encouraging existing technologies to use them more efficiently. These alternatives would facilitate the widespread use of EVs and wind power, drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Fuel cell technologies have been touted for decades due to their high chemical-to-electrical conversion efficiencies and potential for near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel cell technologies for power generation have not achieved widespread adoption, however, due primarily to their high cost relative to more established combustion technologies. There is a critical need to develop fuel cell technologies that can enable distributed power generation at low cost and high performance. The projects that comprise ARPA-E's Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems (REBELS) program include transformational fuel cell devices that operate in an intermediate temperature range in an attempt to create new pathways to achieve an installed cost to the end-user of less than $1,500/kW at moderate production volumes and create new fuel cell functionality that will help increase grid stability and integration of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar.
Most liquid fuels used in transportation today are derived from petroleum and burned in internal combustion engines. These energy-dense fuels are currently economical, but they remain partially reliant on imported petroleum and are highly carbon intensive. Alternatives to internal combustion engines, like fuel cells, which convert chemical energy to electricity, have shown promise in vehicle powertrains, but are hindered by inefficiencies in fuel transport and storage. Projects in the Renewable Energy to Fuels Through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids (REFUEL) program seek to develop scalable technologies for converting electrical energy from renewable sources into energy-dense carbon-neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) and back into electricity or hydrogen on demand. REFUEL projects will accelerate the shift to domestically produced transportation fuels, improving American economic and energy security and reducing energy emissions.
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's REMOTE program, short for "Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy," seek to enable highly efficient biological conversion of methane to liquid fuels for small-scale deployment. Specifically REMOTE focuses on improving the energy efficiency and carbon yield of biological routes from methane to a useable form for fuel synthesis while also examining high-productivity methane conversion processes and bioreactor technologies.
America’s vast terrestrial resources (over 520 million hectares of crop, range and forestland) are strategic assets essential for sustainable economic growth. While advances in technology have resulted in a ten-fold increase in crop productivity over the past hundred years, soil quality has declined, incurring a soil carbon debt equivalent to 65 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The soil carbon debt also increases the need for costly nitrogen fertilizer, which has become the primary source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, a greenhouse gas. The soil carbon debt also impacts crop water use, increasing susceptibility to drought stress, which threatens future productivity. Given the scale of domestic (and global) agriculture resources, there is tremendous potential to reverse these trends by harnessing the photosynthetic bridge between atmospheric carbon, plants, microbes and soil. Development of new root-focused plant cultivars could dramatically and economically reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations while improving productivity, resilience and sustainability. To this end, projects in the ARPA-E Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) program seek to develop advanced technologies and crop cultivars that enable a 50 percent increase in soil carbon accumulation while reducing N2O emissions by 50 percent and increasing water productivity by 25 percent.
The SHIELD Program, short for "Single-Pane Highly Insulating Efficient Lucid Designs," aims to develop innovative materials that will improve the energy efficiency of existing single-pane windows in commercial and residential buildings. Technologies created through the SHIELD program seek to cut in half the amount of heat lost through single-pane windows in cold weather. These materials would improve insulation, reduce cold weather condensation, and enhance occupant comfort. The technologies could also produce secondary benefits, such as improved soundproofing, that will make retrofits more desirable to building occupants and owners. The program will focus on three technical categories: products that can be applied onto existing windowpanes; manufactured windowpanes that can be installed into the existing window sash that holds the windowpane in place; and other early-stage, highly innovative technologies that can enable products in the first two technical categories.
The projects that make up ARPA-E's Solar ADEPT program, short for "Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology," aim to improve the performance of photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems, which convert the sun's rays into electricity. Solar ADEPT projects are integrating advanced electrical components into PV systems to make the process of converting solar energy to electricity more efficient.
The projects in ARPA-E's SWITCHES program, which is short for "Strategies for Wide-Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems," are focused on developing next-generation power switching devices that could dramatically improve energy efficiency in a wide range of applications, including new lighting technologies, computer power supplies, industrial motor drives, and automobiles. SWITCHES projects aim to find innovative new wide-bandgap semiconductor materials, device architectures, and device fabrication processes that will enable increased switching frequency, enhanced temperature control, and reduced power losses, at substantially lower cost relative to today's solutions. More specifically, SWITCHES projects are advancing bulk gallium nitride (GaN) power semiconductor devices, the manufacture of silicon carbide (SiC) devices using a foundry model, and the design of synthetic diamond-based transistors. A number of SWITCHES projects are small businesses being funded through ARPA-E's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.
The TERRA program is facilitating improvement of advanced biofuel crops, specifically energy sorghum, by developing and integrating cutting-edge remote sensing platforms, complex data analytics tools, and high-throughput plant breeding technologies. Project teams are constructing automated systems to accurately measure and analyze crop growth in the field, thoroughly characterizing genetic potential and creating algorithms for selecting the best plants to reproduce. These innovations will accelerate domestic production of sustainable, renewable, and affordable liquid transportation fuels. The program will also generate the world's largest public reference database of sorghum plant characteristics and genetic composition that will facilitate research and development efforts across public and private sector institutions and in other important agricultural crops.
The projects in ARPA-E's Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET) program aim to minimize energy consumption in personal transportation, without having to improve current infrastructure or vehicle efficiency. TRANSNET project teams are developing new network control architectures, coupled with incentive strategies, to encourage individual travelers to take specific energy-relevant actions. These actions could, for example, contribute to reductions in miles traveled and increased occupancy rates for all modes. Project teams will design two interacting computer models: a system model that dynamically simulates the entire transportation network, including roadways, public transit, and other modes of travel, and calculates energy use at an individual level; and a control architecture, which quantifies the impacts of incentives and signals on real-time energy reductions. Operating together, these modules will measure changes to energy use in response to controls. If successful, these systems will allow the optimization of control strategies, which could increase the efficiency in a transportation network.