The Department of Energy’s ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy), designed to support high-risk research into green energy technologies, has the power to transform a startup — allowing it to develop next-gen tech that would otherwise sit on the back burner. And today the DOE has awarded $92 million for 43 new projects under the highly competitive program, with small businesses making up a third of the winners.
Today’s awards mark the last of the ARPA-E grants funded under the Recovery Act. According the DOE, it has now awarded $349 million in grants to 117 projects in three rounds since last year. Created in 2007, the ARPA-E program was left unfunded until the 2009 stimulus package.
Each of the projects in this latest round falls into one of three categories, covering modular devices for storing energy for the power grid, components for improving the efficiency and cost of power conversion and switching across the electrical grid, and systems for cooling buildings efficiently with less reliance on refrigerants.
Companies scoring funds in today’s round, which drew 529 concept papers in the initial application process, include flywheel developer Beacon Power (s BCON), battery maker Fluidic Energy, flow battery companies General Atomics and Primus Power, and fuel cell developer Proton Energy, as well as lighting tech giant Cree (s CREE), Boeing (s BA), GE Global Research (s GE) and GeneSic Semiconductor.
Toyota (s TM) will be working with the University of Arkansas, Oak Ridge National Lab and Cree on a project led by Arkansas Power Electronics International that bagged one of the largest grants, for nearly $4 million, to develop low-cost, highly efficient power electronics for rapid charging of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
More than a third (36 percent) of the projects are being headed up by universities, including MIT and Virginia Tech, while large businesses are leading about a quarter (24 percent). National labs and non-profits are leading 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of the projects in this round. You can download the full list of awards and check out the technical project descriptions here.
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