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Posted on October 13, 2011 by  & 

DoE awards $156 million for groundbreaking energy research projects

Arun Majumdar, Director of the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), announced 60 cutting-edge research projects aimed at dramatically improving how the U.S. produces and uses energy. With $156 million from the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, the new ARPA-E selections 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.
Demonstrating the success ARPA-E has already seen, the program announced this year that eleven of its projects secured more than $200 million in outside private capital investment.
"These innovative projects are at the forefront of a new technological frontier that plays a critical role in our future energy security and economic growth," said Majumdar. "It is now more important than ever to invest in game-changing ideas that will build the technological infrastructure for a new, clean energy economy."
The projects selected are located in 25 states, with 50% of projects led by universities, 23% by small businesses, 12% by large businesses, 13% by national labs, and 2% by non-profits. Prior to today, ARPA-E has awarded $365.7 million in funds to approximately 120 groundbreaking energy projects within seven program areas. This most recent round of selections brings the total to 180 projects, 12 program areas and $521.7 million in awards at ARPA-E to date.
Included in the programme is the Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT) project which was awarded $31.6 million. Rare earths are naturally-occurring minerals with unique magnetic properties that are used in many existing and emerging energy technologies. Rising rare earth prices have already escalated costs for some energy technologies and may jeopardize the availability and widespread adoption of many critical energy solutions by U.S. manufacturers. ARPA-E funds early-stage technology alternatives that reduce or eliminate the dependence on rare earth materials by developing substitutes in two key areas: electric vehicle motors and wind generators.
Pacific Northwest National Lab received $2.3 million for their work on "Manganese-Based Permanent Magnet." The team will reduce the cost of wind turbines and electric vehicles by developing a replacement for rare earth magnets based on an innovative composite using manganese material. Manganese composites could potentially achieve twice the strength of the magnets used today, while using inexpensive and abundant raw materials. The team will develop stronger magnets by leveraging high-performance supercomputer modeling and high-speed experiments of various metal composite formulations that do not contain rare earths. If developed successfully, these composite magnets will reduce the U.S. dependence on expensive rare-earth material imports, and reduce the cost and improve efficiency of green technologies.
For more details on allocation of funding see the DoE website.
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