ARPA-E awards over $8 million in AM clean energy projects

February 24, 2022

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $175 million for sixty-eight research & development projects aimed at developing novel advanced energy technologies. Led by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the OPEN 2021 programme prioritises funding high-impact, high-risk technologies that support novel approaches. The selected projects are anticipated advancing technologies for a wide range of areas, including electric vehicles, offshore wind, storage and nuclear recycling.

The selected projects will focus on technologies such as revolutionising fuel cells for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, and technologies to generate less nuclear waste and reduce the cost of fuel.

Select OPEN 2021 projects include:

  • Stanford University, California. Additive Manufacturing of Amorphous Metal Soft Magnetic Composites – $1,900,000. The Stanford team aims to additively manufacture amorphous metal-oxide soft magnetic composites (SMC) with net-shapes, reduced cost, and reduced material waste. SMCs are key to increased energy density and efficiency of electric motors and enable miniaturised electric vehicle chargers, transformers, and power generators. Currently, SMC magnetic cores are expensive and time-consuming to manufacture in the complex shapes required for next-generation devices using conventional press & sinter Powder Metallurgy. If successful, the team’s efforts would result in magnetic cores with 10x lower core loss at frequencies of 500 kHz to 1 MHz at half the price.
  • Precision Combustion, North Haven, Connecticut. Additively Manufactured Electrochemical-Chip Based Scalable Solid Oxide Fuel Cells – $1,540,224. Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) hopes to demonstrate a fundamentally new solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) architecture that permits a power-dense, lightweight design ideal for transportation applications. The team’s approach will include a scalable, electrochemical chip-based SOFC. PCI will combine the SOFC architecture with its ultra-compact reforming technology in an attempt to achieve fast start-up and long-term durability. Addressing the shortcomings of conventional SOFCs for transportation (e.g., large mass and volume, long startup times, and high cost) are expected to enable low-cost, efficient, and sustainable electric power for transportation applications when utilised with net-zero carbon footprint fuels.
  • The Ohio State University, Vehicle Traction Electric Machines Enabled by Novel Composite Magnetic Powder Material and Electrophoretic Deposition Insulation Material – $2,405,076. The university team intends to transform the design and manufacturing processes of electric machines for electrified vehicles (EVs) through two innovative magnetic and insulation materials: a novel composite magnetic powder (CMP) material and ceramic electrophoretic deposition (EPD) insulation. The team will develop the CMP material to have high bulk resistivity, permeability, saturation flux density, and low coercivity for the electric machine cores. Their approach removes the need for laminated cores and will not generate any scrap metal in the core manufacturing process. The EPD insulation is 10x more thermally conductive than the traditional material. Combined, the new materials and manufacturing methods are expected to improve torque density by 40-70% and reduce manufacturing costs.
  • HRL Laboratories, Malibu, California. Surface Laser Architected Magnets (SLAM) – $2,661,888. HRL Laboratories aims to develop novel magnets that improve the operating energy density of state-of-the-art magnets for increased electric motor efficiency. Surface Laser Architected Magnets (SLAM) is a new magnet architecture that mitigates thermally induced demagnetisation while reducing the use of expensive heavy rare earth elements. These magnets will increase motor efficiency, and thereby accelerate the adoption of electric ground and air vehicles, reduce energy demands and greenhouse gases, and reduce the need for non-domestic rare earths.

Since its founding in 2009, ARPA-E has provided $2.93 billion in R&D funding, and ARPA-E projects have attracted more than $7.6 billion in private-sector follow-on funding to commercialise clean energy technologies.

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

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Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

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  • AM for medical implants: An analysis of the impact of powder reuse in Powder Bed Fusion

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