ARPA-E Funds Transformative Energy Technologies With $130 Million

66 transformative research projects will share $130 million in funding from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ARPA-E program (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy).

That brings ARPA-E’s portfolio to 285 projects funded with $770 million in awards since it launched in 2009.

ARPA-E is DOE’s innovative research program that supports research on potentially transformational energy technologies. It funds projects 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.

In this funding round DOE chose projects that span 11 technologies: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, and energy storage.

Projects were selected by culling thousands of concept papers and hundreds of applications. They are based in 24 states, with 47% led universities, 29% by small businesses, 15% by large businesses, 7.5% by national labs, and 1.5% by non-profits.

"With ARPA-E and all of the Department of Energy’s research and development efforts, we are determined to attract the best and brightest minds at our country’s top universities, labs and businesses to help solve the energy challenges of this generation," says Secretary Chu. "The 66 projects selected today represent the true mission of ARPA-E: swinging for the fences and trying to hit home runs to support development of the most innovative technologies and change what’s possible for America’s energy future."

Funding ranges from almost $5 million to about $400,000. Here are some companies that won funding:

Allylix, Inc., Kentucky – $4.5 million
High performance aviation fuels

Developing energy dense terpene-based fuels that can increase flight range by about 20%.

Grid Logic, Inc., Michigan – $3.8 million
Superconducting Wires to reduce the cost of transmission lines and electric devices such as motors.

Using a new manufacturing technology, the company is developing a low-cost superconducting wire for electric utility applications. Very fine superconducting particles are embedded in a combination of metals that induce superconductivity. This would reduce the cost of transmission lines, motors for wind turbines, and other electric devices.

Electron Energy Corporation, Pennsylvania – $2.9 million
High-Performance Magnets for wind turbine generators and motors

Developing a technology to manufacture permanent magnets that are stronger and lower cost than those available today and don’t rely on rare earth materials.

University of North Dakota, Energy and Environmental Research Center -$472,586
Efficiency technology for power plants

An air-cooled adsorbent liquid retains and releases moisture to cool power plants that could result in efficient power production with minimal water loss.

Examples of technologies that previously received awards that are moving forward include: the world’s first 400 Wh/kg lithium-ion battery poised to revolutionize the electric vehicle industry; and a wind turbine, inspired by the design of jet engines, that could deliver 300% more power than existing turbines of the same size and cost.

In fact, five companies that received seed funding in ARPA-E’s earliest rounds have attracted over $100 million in outside private capital investment.

A group of business leaders, including John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, Bill Gates and GE’s Jeffrey Immelt urged President Obama when he was first elected, to make the US a global leader in energy technology innovation. The manifestation of that is ARPA-E and DOE’s Energy Hubs.

Obama allocated $350 million for ARPA-E in his proposed 2013 budget.

Here’s the full list of awardees for 2012:

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