Sixty projects in 25 states were awarded a total of $156 million on Thursday under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) agency. They focus on accelerating innovations in clean technology while increasing America’s competitiveness in rare earth alternatives and breakthroughs in biofuels, thermal storage, grid controls, and solar power electronics.

Among them is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s HybriSol thermal energy storage device, or a heat battery, that captures and stores energy from the sun to be released onto the grid later. Abengoa Solar received $3.6 million to develop a high-efficiency solar-electric conversion tower that uses a novel thermal energy storage technology, and Halotechnics received $3.3 million to develop a high-temperature thermal storage system using molten glass as the heat transfer and thermal storage material.

The awards also include 14 projects in the Green Electricity Network Integration area that will explore innovative control software and high-voltage hardware to reliably control the grid network. Another 14 projects are part of the Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies category, which is designed to fund early-stage technology alternatives that reduce or eliminate the dependence on rare earth materials by developing substitutes in electric vehicle motors and wind turbines.
Seven projects will collaborate with the DOE’s SunShot Initiative under the Solar ADEPT program, which focuses on integrating advanced power electronics into solar panels and solar farms to extract and deliver energy more efficiently.

Sources: POWERnews, DOE