Two TN projects awarded Energy Dept. grants to develop energy technology solutions

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.(WVLT)-- Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced 66 cutting-edge research projects selected by the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to receive a total of $130 million in funding through its “OPEN 2012” program.

ARPA-E seeks out transformational, breakthrough technologies 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 could have large commercial impacts. The selected projects encompass 11 technology areas in 24 states, and support the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to solving our nation’s most pressing energy challenges. Two projects in Tennessee were selected to receive a total of nearly $2.6 million in funding.

“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,” said 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.”

The OPEN 2012 projects will focus on a wide array of technologies, including advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, and energy storage.

The projects were selected through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of full applications. The projects are based in 24 states, with approximately 47% of the projects led by universities, 29% by small businesses, 15% by large businesses, 7.5% by national labs, and 1.5% by non-profits. Today’s announcement brings ARPA-E’s total portfolio of projects to about 285 projects for a total of approximately $770 million in awards.

ARPA-E’s first funding opportunity, “OPEN 2009,” was issued three years ago and was similarly an open call to America’s top scientists and engineers for transformational energy technology solutions. ARPA-E’s previously selected projects have already made major progress, by demonstrating the world’s first 400 Wh/kg lithium-ion battery poised to revolutionize the electric vehicle industry; building 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; and engineering a high power laser drilling system that can penetrate hard rock formations over long distances and is ten times more economical than conventional drilling technologies.

Information on all projects announced today is available here. Projects located in Tennessee are below:

Tai Yang Research Company in Knoxville, TN, will receive over $2.1 million to develop a grid-scale device that stores energy in a high-power, superconducting cable. This innovative cable enables an increase in magnetic field strength by optimizing cable design when connected to a power source. This approach would enable higher power storage densities that decrease cost and overall size of the system.
University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN, will receive over $440,000 to develop a technology that enables high throughput bioengineering and trait testing in switchgrass. This development will significantly reduce the time required to engineer switchgrass to maximize biofuel production.


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