ARPA-E Selects 6 Projects for $9.6M in Funding, Including Improving Efficiency and Power Density of Electric Machines

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has selected six more potentially transformational energy research and development projects. Funded with $9.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the new projects bring the total of ARPA-E projects to 121, for a total of $363 million in funding.

The latest funding is going to projects that could improve energy efficiency in buildings by reducing loads on air conditioners; reduce costs associated with generating electricity from solar power; and improve efficiency and power density of electric machines.

Transformational Nanostructured Permanent Magnets. Among the selected projects, General Electric Global Research (GE) will develop cost-competitive next-generation permanent magnets with magnetic energy product of at least 80 MGOe and 80% less rare-earth mineral content. To increase the magnet’s energy product, GE will develop bulk proprietary nanostructured consolidated and fully dense microstructures and will demonstrate for the first time a bulk exchange-spring nanocomposite permanent magnet.

This transformational permanent magnet performance result will exceed the maximum theoretical energy product of the state-of-the-art Nd2Fe14B at 64 MGOe. The impact of these new magnets is to increase the efficiency and power density of electric machines while reducing raw material cost. These magnets will enable further market penetration of hybrid vehicles and wind turbine generators, while enhancing US competitiveness in rare-earth mineral based products.

The Transformational Nanostructured Permanent Magnets project will receive $2.2 million in funding. Other projects selected include:

  • Makani Power, Inc. (Alameda, CA): Airborne Wind Turbine. An Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT), which is a high performance wing connected to the ground by a tether, will be developed to demonstrate autonomous flight, power generation, and flight modes under a wide range of wind conditions. Due to its enhanced performance at lower wind speeds, the AWT technology has the potential to expand the area suitable for wind power and deliver energy at a significantly lower cost than conventional horizontal-axis wind turbines. This project will receive $3 million in funding.

  • University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) (Los Angeles, CA): Thermal Energy Storage with Supercritical Fluids. Two-tank molten salt is currently the preferred state-of-the-art thermal energy storage for solar thermal power plants. The UCLA-led team will develop and implement a supercritical fluid based thermal energy storage system which will potentially increase the energy density by over a factor of two compared to the two-tank molten salt system, with a cost less than 70% of the molten salt system. This project will receive $2.4 million in funding.

  • Sustainable Energy Solutions (Provo, UT): Cryogenic Carbon Capture. Cryogenic carbon capture, a process by which flue gas from a power plant is cooled so that carbon dioxide changes directly from gas to a solid, will be demonstrated as a new option for capturing carbon dioxide. This process is a radically different method to capture carbon dioxide, and offers the potential for improved efficiency and lower capture costs. This project will receive $750,000 in funding.

  • Dais Analytic Corporation (Odessa, FL): Nanotechnology Membrane-Based Dehumidifier. In warm and humid climates the efficiency of air conditioning decreases significantly in removing the moisture out of the air. This project proposes to dehumidify moist air using a nano-structured solid polymer which is permeable to moisture but not permeable to air. This technology would enable higher efficiencies and significant cost savings in cooling technologies. This project will receive $680,000 in funding.<

  • Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, LLC (Thousand Oaks, CA): Optofluidic Solar Concentrators. Currently tracking of solar radiation in concentrated photovoltaic systems is provided by mechanical means with multiple moving parts, which raises reliability concerns. These systems are also bulky. This project will develop an electrowetting-based dynamic liquid prism to track both the daily and seasonal changes of the Sun's orbit for concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) and reduce capital costs through increased operational efficiency by eliminating bulky mechanical tracking. This project will receive $500,000 in funding.

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