The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it is honoring commitments to several previously selected Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awardees, with funding of a combined $11.1 million. They are among the first awardees to move forward following the Department’s review of all taxpayer funded grants and projects, intended to ensure that each award applied good governance principles consistent with the new Administration’s policy directives.
The projects moving forward are part of ARPA-E’s Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) (earlier post) and Renewable Energy to Fuels Through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids (REFUEL) (earlier post) programs. Additional awardees are expected to move forward in the coming weeks.
NEXTCAR projects will take advantage of the increasingly complex and connected systems in cars and trucks to improve their energy efficiency significantly, with a goal of reducing individual vehicle energy usage by 20%. REFUEL projects will use water, molecules from the air, and electricity from renewable sources to produce high-energy liquid fuels for transportation and other uses.
The three awardees moving forward:
NEXTCAR (DE-AR0000793) Purdue University. Enabling High-Efficiency Operation through Next-Generation Control Systems Development for Connected and Automated Class 8 Trucks – $5,000,000
Purdue University, together with its partners, has a multi-pronged approach for the implementation of their heavy-duty diesel truck project, focusing on concepts including: transmission and engine optimization; more efficient maintenance of exhaust after-treatment systems using look-ahead information; cloud-based remote engine and transmission recalibration; cloud-based engine and transmission control; and efficient truck platooning. The most promising strategies will be evaluated and refined using a phased approach relying on a combination of simulations, development and real-world testing.
REFUEL (DE-AR0000808) FuelCell Energy, Inc. Protonic Ceramics for Energy Storage and Electricity Generation with Ammonia – $3,100,000
The FuelCell Energy, Inc. team will build a reversible electrochemical cell to produce ammonia from nitrogen and water or consume ammonia to generate electricity. The FuelCell team’s innovation relies on an electrode incorporating a ruthenium catalyst—a material that reduces the energy requirement of the reaction—that has shown to be more active for ammonia production than traditional methods. If successful, the FuelCell team will increase ammonia production rates to 100 times current electrochemical methods—comparable with commercial processes while avoiding the need for separate hydrogen production thanks to its use of water, thus decreasing feedstock costs.
REFUEL (DE-AR0000813) SAFCell, Inc. Distributed Electrochemical Production and Conversion of Carbon-Neutral Ammonia – $3,000,000
The SAFCell project team will build a high-pressure stack designed to generate hydrogen from ammonia, purify it, and pressurize it in a single device, greatly simplifying the infrastructure required to get hydrogen fuel to refueling stations and store it there. Solid acid stacks operate at intermediate temperatures of around 250 °C and are highly tolerant of compounds that normally damage anode catalysts like carbon monoxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. If successful, the SAFCell team expects low cost, long-life, on-demand compressed hydrogen production from a distributed system with a quick start-up time.