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Energy Storage First on ARPA-E’s Funding List


ARPA-E is allocating $130 million for 66 grants that will help innovative projects bring changes in energy storage. The largest grant was given to a company called PolyPlus Battery Company. Besides this the company also received $9 million from the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office this summer.

The product that PolyPlus is planning to develop is an aqueous rechargeable lithium-sulfur battery with better density than the regular lithium batteries.

The Research associate at PolyPlus Battery, Thomas Conry, is convinced the project received funding because of the “aqueous” part in it. The non-aqueous Li-S batteries have not reached the commercial market due to numerous chemistry related obstacles. The team at PolyPlus Battery claims that they have the solution.

During the initial stages of the project, the company is focusing on developing a functional seawater battery as well as a rechargeable lithium air battery. As Corny states, the most important element of these is the ceramic membrane which is water-resistant, which allows lithium ions to move freely.

ARPA-E’s projects do not end here. Another company that received a substantial grant is Vorbeck Materials. They are also developing a lithium sulfur battery, which should have improved density and reduced charging time. Similarly, Sharp Laboratories of America, promised to develop a sodium ion battery, which will cut down the cost of grid storage.

Other grants were given to research looking at fuel cells, flow batteries, and thermal storage. For instance, a system that converts heat from concentrated sunlight to electricity by using thermoelectric materials was given to the company NREL. The high risk projects funded by ARPA-E should produce a prototype within the first two or three years.

ARPA-E is one of the few US government energy programs that funds energy storage initiatives. It aids companies and organizations to explore and develop transformational energy storage products.

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