U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced the selection of six transformational energy research and development projects that could revolutionize how the country uses, stores and produces energy. Funded with $9.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the projects round out the selections made by the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The $9.6 million is being awarded 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.
The projects are:
1. 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 that is permeable to moisture but not permeable to air.
2. GE Global Research (Niskayuna, NY) - Transformational Nanostructured Permanent Magnets.
In this project, General Electric Global Research (GE) will develop next-generation permanent magnets that include a lower content of critical rare-earth materials. GE will develop bulk nanostructured magnetic materials, resulting in a dramatic increase in performance over state-of-the-art magnets. The impact of these new magnets will be to increase the efficiency and power density of electric machines while reducing dependence on globally critical rare-earth minerals. These magnets will enable further market penetration of hybrid vehicles and wind turbine generators by U.S. manufacturers.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 that will potentially increase the energy density by over a factor of two with a cost less than 70% of the molten salt system.