Energy and Climate
Energy and ClimateEnergy ResearchARPAe: Innovation Activities

ARPAe: Innovation Activities

Technology Showcase Nominees


2015 The First Cost-Effective Solution for CO2
Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico are developing an ultra-thin, enzymatically active membrane that combines high CO2 permeability, high CO2 selectivity, and low fabrication costs, resulting in the first costeffective technology for CO2 separation and purification. View Fact Sheet
2015 Advanced Materials for Energy and Cost-Efficient
Large Scale Separations of Oxygen from Air
Sandia National Laboratories is developing methods for the purification of oxygen from air for industrial uses, such as oxyfuel combustion. This technology can enable significant energy savings and reduced operation costs for industry,as well as reduced U.S. fossil fuel dependence. View Fact Sheet
2015 Metal Ionic Liquids for Flow Batteries Sandia National Laboratories has created a new family of ionic-liquid based electrolytes with accompanying nonaqueous compatible membranes and flow cell designs for higher energy density redox flow batteries targeted to support increasing demands for stationary energy storage. View Fact Sheet
2014 Sandia Hand The Sandia Hand is an inexpensive, dexterous and modular manipulator. In the standard configuration, the hand consists of four fingers and 12 active degrees of freedom. The fingers are replaceable and re configurable allowing a variety of other configurations to be realized. The dexterity and modularity, coupled with fingernails, soft skin, tactile sensing and stereo vision enable several important applications at a previously unavailable price point. View Fact Sheet Web Link
 2014 Recompression Brayton Cycle Sandia National Laboratories is developing a thermal-to-electric power conversion technology that utilizes carbon dioxide (CO2) as the working fluid in a closed Brayton cycle. This technology possesses the capability to generate electricity at high efficiencies while reducing both costs and greenhouse gas emissions. View Fact Sheet Web Link
 2014 Binder-free Pelletization Process This binder-free pelletization process can fabricate industrially relevant pellets of porous catalysts and separations materials, and enables the implementation of oxide based materials into industrial process with full access to surface area and reactivity of the base material. View Fact Sheet
 2014 Sandia Cooler Sandia’s radically different approach to a CPU cooler overcomes the heat transfer bottleneck of “dead air” that clings to cooling fins, generating a several-fold improvement in cooling performance in a device that is smaller, quieter, and immune to clogging by dust. View Fact Sheet Web Link
2014 Silicon Photonics Silicon photonics offers a potential breakthrough in optical interconnection performance, not just for supercomputer applications, but also for data communication and other applications. SiP Brochure SAND 2014-15057M
 2013 Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics (MEPV) These tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic (PV) cells could revolutionize solar energy collection. Made from robust semiconductor materials, miniaturized PV generate clean electricity that can work as safely, reliably, and durably as present-day grid power, and be cheaper than all other forms of energy. View
Fact Sheet
Web Link
 2013 Biomimetic Membrane Biomimetic membranes have the potential to produce clean water more efficiently than current state-of-the-art reverse osmosis membranes and could provide easier access to cheaper, clean water while lessening demands on the electrical energy production used for desalination. View Fact Sheet
 2012  Smart Outlet Sandia’s Smart Outlet is an autonomous intelligent electrical outlet for controlling loads for power grids with a high percentage of renewable resources. The Smart Outlet platform performs sensing, actuation, communications, and processing for autonomous load control in response to variations in generation supply.  View
Fact Sheet

Partnering with Sandia

Leverage the resources of Sandia National Laboratories for your benefit through a technology partnership. Sandia has been transferring technology to external partners for more than three decades, making it possible for partners to access our science and technology, people, and infrastructure. Sandia’s many and varied collaborations with industry, small businesses, universities, and government agencies on emerging technologies directly support our primary mission for the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and bring new technologies to the marketplace.

Sandia offers partnership opportunities through a number of mediums:

  • Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)
  • Commercial License Agreement
  • Funds-In Agreement/Work for Others (WFO)
  • Designated Capability Agreement
  • Technology Development Center Agreement
  • User Facility Agreement

Learn more about partnering opportunities with Sandia.

Currently Funded Projects

Improved Power System Operations Using Advanced Stochastic Optimization

Partnering Institution(s): Iowa State University, University of California-David, Areva

ARPA-E Program: Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI)

Project Summary: Sandia National Laboratories is working with several commercial and university partners to develop software for market management systems (MMSs) that enable greater use of renewable energy sources throughout the grid. MMSs are used to securely and optimally determine which energy sources should be used to service energy demand across the country. Contributions of electricity to the grid from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are intermittent, introducing complications for MMSs, which have trouble accommodating the multiple sources of price and supply uncertainties associated with bringing these new types of energy into the grid. Sandia’s software will bring anew probability-based formulation to account for these uncertainties. By factoring in various probability scenarios for electricity production from renewable energy sources in real time, Sandia’s formula can reduce the risk of inefficient electricity transmission, save ratepayers money, conserve power, and support the future use of renewable energy.

Transformational Merit: Sandia’s software could encourage the spread of renewable energy throughout the electric grid by accounting for the uncertainties associated with its pricing and production.


All Solid-State Lithium Ion Batteries

Partnering Institution(s): University of Colorado-Boulder, Michigan State University

ARPA-E Program: Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems (RANGE)

Project Summary: This work focuses on the development of a new low-cost, all-solid battery for EVs with greater energy storage capacity and lighter, safer design compared to lithium-ion batteries. Conventional batteries are expensive, perform poorly at high temperatures and require heavy protective components to ensure safety. Solid Power’s liquid-free cells store more energy for their size and weight, but use non-flammable and on-volatile materials that are stable in high temperatures. This results in improved safety in the event of a collision or fire as well as Solid Power plant to use low-cost, abundant materials in the range of $10-$20/kg that could reduce battery manufacturing costs, to help drive down the cost of EVs.

Transformational Merit: If this project is successful, Solid Power’s solid-state battery would reduce battery costs and offer manufacturers greater flexibility with regard to battery placement and vehicle design. In turn, the adoption of EVs would diminish the demand for petroleum, dramatically reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, as well as technological advancements from the RANGE program could enable EVs to ravel significantly further on a single charge at a much lower cost than that of current EVs and conventional vehicles.


High Precision Life Testing of Automotive Batteries and Grid Storage Batteries

Partnering Institutions: Ford Motor Company

ARPA-E Program: Advanced Management and Protection of Energy-storage Devices (AMPED)

Project Summary: Ford is developing a commercially viable battery tester with measurement precision that is significantly better than today’s best battery testers. Improvements in the predictive ability of battery testers would enable significant reductions in the time and expense involved in electric vehicle technology validation. Unfortunately, the instrumental precision required to reliably predict performance of batteries after thousands of charge and discharge cycles does not exist in today’s commercial systems. Ford’s design would dramatically improve the precision of electric vehicle battery testing equipment, which would reduce the time and expense required in the research, development, and qualification testing of new automotive and stationary batteries.

Transformational Merit: If successful, the battery tester would improve upon the precision of today’s best electric vehicle battery testers, allowing for better predictive capacity of the battery’s life.


Cost Effective Real Time Wave Assessment Tool

Partnering Institution(s): Sea Engineering

ARPA-E Program: Open Funding Opportunity Announcement

Project Summary: Sea Engineering is developing a cost-effective ocean wave buoy system that will accurately measure its own movements as it follows the surface wave motions of the ocean and relay this real-time wave data. Conventional real-time wave measurement buoys are expensive, which limits the ability to deploy large networks of buoys. Data from Sea Engineering’s buoys can be used as input to control strategies of wave energy conversion (WEC) devices and allow these controlled WECs to capture significantly more energy than systems that do not employ control strategies. Sea Engineering’s system will also enable assessment of the optimal locations and designs of WEC systems. Sea Engineering’s ocean wave buoy system could measure and relay real-time wave data at 10% the cost of commercially available wave measurement systems.

Transformational Merit: If successful, Sea Engineering’s wave measurement system would enable more efficient and cost-effective ocean energy conversion systems and provide the innovative step forward to propel WEC designs from a niche technology to an affordable energy resource for the U.S. Wave energy is the most abundant form of hydrokinetic energy in the work. Successful harnessing of wave energy is dependent on real-time knowledge of the wave climate incident to a wave energy converter (WEC) array. This knowledge allows for the optimization of WEC array placement and design, and provides a link for active tuning of WECs to capture significantly more energy specific wave condition data (e.g., significant wave height and peak wave period) needed to implement successful WEC facilities that can make an impact on our nation’s electricity demands. Presently, real-time wave measurement buoys are available at costs in excess of $50,000 per buoy. The high cost limits the ability to deploy large networks of buoys for both assessment and operational needs.

Wave Buoy Calibration Stand

Custom wave buoy calibration stand with Wave Assessment Tool sensor unit mounted in center ring




Schematic diagram of Wave Assessment Tool buoy and sensor setup

Schematic diagram of Wave Assessment Tool buoy and sensor setup











Synthetic Biology Approaches for Increased Terpene Production in Pine

Partnering Institutions: University of Florida

ARPA-E Program: Plants Engineered to Replace Oil (PETRO)

Project Summary: Currently, traditional biofuels production is limited not only by the small amount of solar energy that plants convert through photosynthesis into biological materials, but also by inefficient processes for converting these biological materials into fuels. While enhanced feedstocks for biofuels have generally focused on fuel production from leafy plants and grasses, the University of Florida is experimenting with enhancing fuel production in a species of pine that is currently used in the paper pulping industry. The university is working to increase the amount of turpentine in harvested pine from 4% to 20% of its dry weight. Pine trees naturally produce around 3-5% terpene content in the wood—terpenes are the energy-dense fuel molecules that are the predominant components of turpentine. The team aims to increase the terpene storage potential and production capacity while improving the terpene composition to a point at which the trees could be tapped while alive. Even though the growth and production of these trees will take years, the pioneering technology could have a significant impact in making available an economical and domestic source of aviation and diesel biofuels.

Transformational Merit: If successful, the University of Florida’s project could make pine trees sources of fuel precursors for the domestic production of aviation and diesel biofuels, enabling large-scale production of replacement for petroleum-based fuels. The transportation sector accounts for nearly all of their petroleum imports and by providing an advanced biofuels alternative to petroleum will allow the U.S. to reduce these imports, improving our energy independence. By producing biofuels domestically, it will allow for the U.S. to keep more dollars at home.


Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy

Partnering Institutions: MoGene

ARPA-E Program: Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE)

Project Summary: There is currently no commercially viable biological approach to converting methane into liquid fuel, and synthetic approaches are expensive and inefficient at small scales. Throughout the United States, natural gas can be found in abundance and in order to take advantage of the country’s remote natural gas resources, new biological processes that uses special microorganisms called “biocatalysts” are needed to transform methane into liquid fuel. These small-scale processes could provide an environment advantage since they would be carbon neutral or better relative to traditional fuels. MOgene will engineer a “phototrophic” organism to convert methane that is capable of deriving additional energy from sunlight, allowing the organism to naturally provide oxygen needed for methane conversion while recapturing any carbon dioxide that would have been released in the process. MOgene’s technology would be a more efficient and cost-effective way to activate methane, while producing n-butanol, a liquid fuel precursor.

Transformational Merit: If successful, MOgene will develop a low-carbon-emissions technology that produces a liquid fuel from natural gas and sunlight through efficient, low-cost biological conversion. An improved bioconversion process could create cost-competitive liquid fuels significantly reducing demand for foreign oil. This technology will also allow for utilization of small-scale remote natural gas resources or methane and carbon rich gas residues for fuel production reducing harmful emissions associated with conventional fuel technologies. By expanding U.S. natural gas resources via bioconversion to liquid fuels could contribute tens of billions of dollars to the nation’s economy while reducing or stabilizing transport fuel prices.


Epitaxial GaN on Flexible Metal Tapes for Low Cost Transistor Devices

Partnering Institutions: iBeam Materials

ARPA-E Program: Strategies for Wide Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems (SWITCHES)

Project Summary: Sandia National Laboratories is working with iBeam Materials will develop a manufacturing method to produce low-cost gallium nitride (GaN) devices for use in large-scale power electronics. If successful iBeam Materials will use a crystal-aligned GaN coating on top of a large-area, flexible, metal foil, such as stainless steel, which is significantly less expensive than the all-GaN wafers used in conventional GaN manufacturing processes. This cost-effective coating technology was recently developed to manufacture high-quality, low-cost superconductor wire, and iBeam is working to perfect its use in power electronics and lighting.

Transformational Merit: If successful, iBeam Material’s GaN coating would significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of high-performance GaN power electronic devices, helping to facilitate their widespread use.

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