Department of Energy Announces $98 Million for 40 Transformative Energy Technology Projects; Fuel Cell Projects Funded for $12.5M

By November 18, 2018 5   min read  (885 words)

November 18, 2018 |

ARPA E Fuel Cell Funding 2018 2

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy announced $98 million in funding for 40 new projects as part of OPEN 2018, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA‑E) latest open funding opportunity. These funds will support some of America’s top energy innovators’ R&D projects as they seek to develop technologies to transform the nation’s energy system.

“ARPA-E’s open solicitations serve a valuable purpose. They give America’s energy innovators the opportunity to tell us about the next big thing,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Many of the greatest advances in human history started from the bottom up with a single person or idea, and OPEN 2018 provides a chance to open our doors to potentially the next great advancement in energy.”

OPEN solicitations are an open call to scientists and engineers for transformational technologies across the entire scope of ARPA-E’s energy mission. The selected OPEN 2018 projects are in 21 states and fall into 9 technical categories, including transportation, electricity generation and delivery and energy efficiency. Of those selected, approximately 43% of OPEN 2018 projects will be led by universities, 35% by small businesses, and the remainder by large businesses, non-profit organizations or federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs).

The 40 projects announced today are just the beginning, as OPEN applications have seeded other small new program areas that ARPA-E will roll out over the coming weeks.

To view the complete list of selected OPEN 2018 projects, click HERE.

  • Colorado School of Mines | Golden, CO | Efficient Hydrogen and Ammonia Production via Process Intensification and Integration – $2,047,676

The Colorado School of Mines will develop a more efficient method of generation of high purity hydrogen from ammonia for fuel cell fueling stations. Used primarily as a fertilizer, ammonia is the world’s highest volume commodity chemical. Having 17.6% hydrogen, it also shows potential as a hydrogen carrier and carbon-free fuel. The team will develop a new technology to generate fuel cell quality hydrogen from ammonia using a membrane based reactor. The similar technology will be also developed for synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen at reduced pressure and temperature.

  • Syzygy Plasmonics, Inc. – Houston, TX | Photocatalytic Ammonia Decomposition for Hydrogen Production – $750,000

Syzygy Plasmonics will develop a system that uses light to catalyze reactions inside a traditional chemical reactor. The team will construct a reactor that can be used for small-to-medium-scale generation of fuel cell quality hydrogen from ammonia, to be incorporated into existing infrastructures like hydrogen refueling stations for fuel cell vehicles. By using light instead of heat to drive the ammonia decomposition, the reactor can keep temperatures much lower, which reduces energy consumption, carbon emissions, and operational and capital costs while enhancing flexibility.

  • Ecolectro, Inc. – Ithaca, NY | Modular Ultrastable Alkaline Exchange Ionomers to Enable High-performance Fuel Cells and Electrolyzer Systems – $1,700,000

Ecolectro is developing alkaline exchange ionomers (AEIs) to enable low-cost fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies. Ecolectro’s AEIs would be resilient to the harsh operating conditions present in existing alkaline exchange membranes that prevent their widespread adoption in commercial applications. This technology would be simple, cost effective, and well-suited to large-scale processing. Further, Ecolectro’s AEIs would demonstrate comparable durability and improved efficiency over state-of-the-art proton exchange membranes

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley, CA | Metal-Supported SOFCS for Ethanol-Fueled Vehicles – $3,170,000

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is developing a metal-supported solid oxide fuel cell (MS-SOFC) stack that produces electricity from an ethanol-water blend at high efficiency to enable light-duty hybrid passenger vehicles. Current LBNL MS-SOFCs can heat up from room temperature to their ~700°C operating temperature in seconds without thermal expansion cracking and tolerate rapid temperature changes during operation, and are mechanically rugged. However, they currently operate using ethanol fuel, converted into hydrogen and carbon monoxide prior to entering the fuel cell in a process called reforming. The team will adapt these MSSOFCs to handle liquid ethanol-water fuel directly, while maintaining their high performance and durability, and will tackle challenges around assembly of cells into stacks to increase power output

  • Los Alamos National Laboratory – Los Alamos, NM | Stable Diacid Coordinated Quaternary Ammonium Polymers for 80-230 °C Fuel Cells – $2,900,000

Los Alamos National Laboratory will develop polymer fuel cells that produce electricity for electric vehicles in the low to intermediate temperature range of 80-230 °C without first warming and humidifying the incoming fuel stream. The team’s concept uses a new polymer-based membrane design that provides high conductivity across a wide temperature range, simplifying the system components necessary to keep the cell running effectively, and streamlining design and reducing costs. Developments from the project may be useful for other energy conversion technologies, such as ammonia production and high-temperature direct liquid fuel cells.

  • University of Delaware – Newark, DE | Advanced Alkaline Membrane H2/Air Fuel Cell System with Novel Technique for Air CO2 Removal – $1,979,998

The University of Delaware team will develop a hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell capable of using the oxygen in ambient air—in addition to hydrogen—as one of its inputs. This method eliminates a significant barrier to using such cells in transportation applications, when carrying oxygen onboard the vehicle or scrubbing carbon dioxide from air is impractical. The team will build an electrochemical “pump,” based on a special membrane, to remove efficiently cell-damaging CO2 from the ambient air stream without limiting system performance. The same principle could be applied to direct carbon capture from air for any system with excess reductant


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