Lab Partnering Service Discovery
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The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, located outside of Chicago, and California Lithium Battery, Inc. (CalBattery), a Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator portfolio company, announced today that they have signed a licensing agreement for an Argonne-developed, silicon-graphene composite anode material for high-energy lithium batteries.
CalBattery plans to move forward rapidly in the commercial scale-up and production of this breakthrough novel composite anode material, which tests show triples the energy capacity of the state-of-the-art graphite anode.
CalBattery has worked with Argonne for more than a year under a Work for Others agreement to develop the technology under the DOE's Startup America program, which is part of a White House initiative to inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship.
Vorbeck Materials Corp of Jessup, MD participated in the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator program, a part of the Startup America initiative, allowing the company to quickly and efficiently license a substantial portfolio of graphene-based battery technologies, developed with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Princeton University.
PNNL and Princeton's pioneering work in the field of graphene-based battery electrodes, together with Vorbeck's leading expertise in the production and application of high-quality graphene, will enable the rapid commercialization of this energy storage technology. Vorbeck is already working with materials distribution and supply company, Targray Technology International, to bring the novel battery electrode materials to market.
Google and the IEEE Power Electronics Society are working with NREL at the ESIF on the Little Box Challenge, an open competition challenging engineers to build smaller power inverters for use in photovoltaic (PV) power systems.
Up to 18 finalists in the Challenge will be invited to bring their inverter to the ESIF in 2015 for testing and evaluation against the contest parameters. NREL’s world-class researchers will use the state-of-the-art capabilities of the ESIF to evaluate each inverter’s efficiency and performance during tests spanning 100 hours under the same set of typical operating conditions. The test results will help Google and IEEE decide the winner of the $1 million prize, which in 2016 will go to the team that designs and builds a kilowatt-scale inverter with the highest power density and that meets the contest’s other specifications.
The goal of the Little Box Challenge is to create a smaller,more efficient power inverter. Currently, inverters are about the size of a picnic cooler, and Google would like to see the technology shrink to the size of a small laptop computer or smaller. Shrinking the current inverter by 10 times or more and making it cheaper to produce and install would enable more PV-powered homes and more efficient distribution grids, and help bring electricity to remote areas.
Whether flying through the air, zipping along the ground, or sailing on the water, unmanned vehicles are part of a global market expected to reach $4 billion by 2020. Many of these vehicles are powered by batteries, and in order to improve system reliability and plan complicated missions, operators need to know the batteries’ state of charge and state of health.
Emerging Technology Ventures makes unmanned vehicles for land, air, and sea. Motion Picture Marine uses unmanned vehicles to create sequences for motion pictures like X-Men, Armageddon, and Star Trek. American Lithium Energy manufactures lithium-ion batteries that power unmanned vehicles, and Silent Falcon UAS Technologies is a developer of aerial unmanned vehicles. This group of small New Mexico businesses clustered in the unmanned vehicles industry decided to work together to develop a “smart battery manager.”
In 2016 they completed their second New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) project. NMSBA gave them access to Sandia National Laboratories engineers Derek Heeger, Dan Wesolowski, and Von Trullinger, and expertise which would otherwise be unavailable to them.
Assistance from Sandia helped them to advance the battery-monitoring electronics and algorithms that could be embedded within the battery’s hardware. These updates allow users to monitor battery condition and historical data supporting the safe and reliable operations of autonomous and unmanned systems.
In addition to using the smart battery manager technology to give their companies a competitive advantage, now this group is looking at whether it can be turned into a commercially available system others in the industry could integrate into their products. They are seeking investment based on their intellectual property. So far, the companies have received $2.5 million in new investments and added 12 new employees, including 3 engineers to focus on systems integration of the smart battery management system.
After a number of serious storms, culminating in Superstorm Sandy in 2012 which caused billions of dollars in damage and closed parts of the transit system, New Jersey Transit (NJT) wanted to reduce their vulnerability to electric power outages caused by natural or manmade disasters. The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force was charged by President Obama with identifying and working to remove obstacles to resilient infrastructure rebuilding while considering existing and future risks.
Because northern New Jersey and New York City have a higher concentration of economic activity compared to other regions, power failure due to major storms can result in significant disruption. Without power, train service is halted, causing extreme economic and safety impacts. NJT links major points in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and provides nearly 275 million passenger trips each year.
Sandia National Laboratories was brought in by the DOE based on their prior work in microgrid research and their development of microgrid designs for more than 20 military bases.
An MOU between the DOE, NJT, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, allowed Sandia to do a feasibility study for a microgrid. Through the partnership with NJT, Sandia applied its Energy Surety Design Microgrid (ESDM), a risk-assessment approach that has been successfully applied to high security installations.
Based on the conceptual design, NJT was awarded approximately $410 million from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop NJ TRANSITGRID, an innovative microgrid capable of supplying highly reliable power to a core section of NJT’s system. The project will include a large-scale gas-fired generation facility and distributed energy resources to supply power during storm-related disruptions or other power failure events.
An umbrella CRADA with a total value of over $1 million was signed so that Sandia could continue working with NJT on jointly developing a technologically and economically feasible microgrid system.
NJ TRANSITGRID is the first critical application for public transportation of a design methodology originally developed for military installations. The project will help identify and address gaps that challenge the widespread deployment of microgrids, including regulatory implementation.
NJ TRANSITGRID will be the largest microgrid by capacity and geographical footprint in the U.S. While it will normally be operated while connected to a utility electrical grid, it will also be able to operate in “island mode.” The project has attracted the interest of other cities and organizations, and its success will spur more resilient energy projects.