The U.S. Department of Energy recently highlighted six projects that are at the forefront of American energy innovation. The funding for these has come from ARPA-e, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, and represents the government’s bet on long shot but potentially game changing technologies. It is fashioned after the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) that brought us innovations such as that little revolutionary technology in 1′s and 0′s we call the internet. What will be the equivalent breakthrough in terms of energy? Well, six recipients have received a combined $23.6 million in ARPA-E funding. They have then generated an additional $100 million in outside private capital investment over the course of year. “These game-changing projects are going to ensure America’s energy, economic and environmental prosperity is secure,” said Secretary Steven Chu. Here are videos (also below) on two of the recipients to give you a better understanding of what the projects are all about:
1366 Technologies is a small startup developing a new way to make silicon wafers – the key part in solar panels – for 80 percent less than the current cost. The company received $4 million investment from ARPA-E and since then has secured an additional $33.4 million from investors and interested customers.
Sun Catalytix, a start-up spun out of MIT, received $4 million from ARPA-E to develop their technologies for combining sunlight and water to provide affordable, highly distributed solar energy to the individual. They have since received an additional $9.5 million in venture capital funds.
Envia Systems, in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, received $4 million from ARPA-E in December 2009 to develop lithium-ion batteries with the highest energy density in the world. They recently received an additional $17 million in venture capital funds.
FloDesign Wind Turbine (FloDesign) received $8.3 million from ARPA-E to accelerate the development of a new wind turbine inspired by airplane jet engines. ARPA-E funding helped FloDesign raise an additional $27 million, recruit a stellar executive team, and more than double its staff from 20 to 50 employees.
General Compression is developing fuel-free compressed air energy storage technology to enable low-cost grid storage and to help make intermittent renewable power (such as from solar and wind) fully dispatchable. The company received a small ARPA-E grant of $750,000 to test an improved version of their technology with significantly higher efficiency and lower cost, which has been built and is now in testing. Following the ARPA-E award, General Compression has received over $12 million in additional funding from existing and new investors
Visit http://arpa-e.energy.gov/ to learn more.