DOE funds 19 next-gen battery projects with $43M

Leyden Energy battery cells 2

Primus Power’s flow battery

The Department of Energy’s program that gives grants to early-stage energy projects — called ARPA-E — has allocated another $43 million for 19 battery projects, including grants for futuristic batteries made of new chemical mixes, using brand new architectures and utilizing nanotechnology. The ARPA-E program has been aggressively funding next-generation battery technologies over the years, and though these are small grants, the amount of innovation happening is substantial.

The funds go to projects that are very early stage, and are supposed to help bring disruptive R&D closer to commercialization. While Japanese and Korean conglomerates dominate the industry of producing small format lithium ion batteries for laptops and cell phones, these next-gen batteries are mostly targeted for electric cars and the power grid. Some of these projects also aren’t strictly traditional batteries, and a couple are flow batteries, which are large tanks of chemicals that flow into a containerized system and provide energy storage for the power grid (see Primus Power’s flow battery pictured).

Notable winners of the funds include big companies like Ford, GE, and Eaton, small startups like Khosla Ventures-backed Pellion, and projects out of the labs of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Here’s some of the winners (for the full list of 19 go here):

  • Ford: $3.13 million for a very precise battery testing device that can improve forecasting of battery-life.
  • GE Global Research: $3.13 million for sensors thin-film sensors that can detect and monitor temperature and surface pressure for each cell within a battery pack.
  • Eaton: $2.50 million for a system that optimizes the power and operation of hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Pellion Technologies: $2.50 million for the startup’s long range battery for electric vehicles.
  • Sila Nanotechnologies: $1.73 million for the startup’s lithium ion electric car battery that it says has double the capacity of current lithium ion batteries.
  • Xilectric: $1.73 million to “reinvent Thomas Edison’s battery chemistries for today’s electric vehicles.”
  • Energy Storage Systems: $1.73 million for a flow battery for the grid, with an electrolyte made of low cost iron, and using a next-gen cell design.
  • Battelle Memorial Institute: $600K for a sensor to monitor the internal environment of a lithium-ion battery in real-time.
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