CO2 Emissions ARPA-E FOCUS

Published on February 7th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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ARPA-E Supports 12 Unique Solar Projects With $30 Million

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February 7th, 2014 by Zachary Shahan
 

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz this week announced $30 million of support for 12 more unique, hybrid solar projects through the ARPA-E program. Actually, it’s through a program within that program — the Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program, “which is aimed at developing new hybrid solar energy converters and hybrid energy storage systems that can deliver low-cost, high-efficiency solar energy on demand.”

Here are some more details:

Under the FOCUS program, projects will develop advanced solar converters that turn sunlight into electricity for immediate use, while also producing heat that can be stored at low cost for later use as well as innovative storage systems  that accept both heat and electricity from variable solar sources. For example, Camas, Wash.-based Sharp Labs of America will receive about $4 million to develop a hybrid solar converter that could enable utilities to provide on-demand and low-cost solar electricity. MicroLink Devices, based in Niles, Ill., will receive about $3.6 million to develop high-efficiency solar cells that can operate at temperatures above 750°F and can extract the most energy possible from sunlight when integrated with hybrid solar converters.

Cool stuff. Following a little chart I just made indicating the amount each recipient organization, you can find more details on each of the award winners provided by ARPA-E:

  • Arizona State University

    High-Temperature Topping Cells from LED Materials

    Arizona State University will develop a solar cell that can
    operate efficiently at temperatures above 450°C, unlike
    today’s solar cells, which lose efficiency rapidly above 100°C.
    The team will adapt semiconducting materials used in today’s
    light-emitting diode (LED) industry to enable high-temperature
    operation. These solar cells will extract as much energy as
    possible from the highest-energy portion of the solar spectrum
    when used in the next generation of hybrid solar converters.

  • Arizona State University

    Solar-Concentrating Photovoltaic Mirrors

    Arizona State University will develop a curved mirror made of
    solar cells to collect both direct and diffuse sunlight for
    conversion to electricity and heat. While today’s concentrating
    solar systems cannot use diffuse sunlight that has been
    scattered by the atmosphere, this system will simultaneously
    convert diffuse sunlight and some direct sunlight into
    electricity in solar cells while reflecting the unused portion of
    the direct sunlight for conversion to heat. This design can
    provide a low-cost way to utilize the di

  • Cogenra Solar, Inc.

    Solar-Concentrating Photovoltaic Mirrors

    Arizona State University will develop a curved mirror made of
    solar cells to collect both direct and diffuse sunlight for
    conversion to electricity and heat. While today’s concentrating
    solar systems cannot use diffuse sunlight that has been
    scattered by the atmosphere, this system will simultaneously
    convert diffuse sunlight and some direct sunlight into
    electricity in solar cells while reflecting the unused portion of
    the direct sunlight for conversion to heat. This design can
    provide a low-cost way to utilize the di

  • Gas Technology Institute

    Solar-Concentrating Photovoltaic Mirrors

    Arizona State University will develop a curved mirror made of
    solar cells to collect both direct and diffuse sunlight for
    conversion to electricity and heat. While today’s concentrating
    solar systems cannot use diffuse sunlight that has been
    scattered by the atmosphere, this system will simultaneously
    convert diffuse sunlight and some direct sunlight into
    electricity in solar cells while reflecting the unused portion of
    the direct sunlight for conversion to heat. This design can
    provide a low-cost way to utilize the di

  • General Electric Global Research

    Electrothermal Energy Storage with a Supercritical CO2 Cycle

    GE will design and test components of a unique gas turbine
    that is driven by high-temperature, high-pressure carbon
    dioxide. The carbon dioxide expands to low pressure and
    extremely cold temperatures to generate electricity
    from stored electrical and heat energy. The dramatic change in
    temperature and pressure is necessitated by an innovative
    design that prevents thermal losses across the turbine. This
    grid-scale energy storage system could be coupled to a hybrid
    solar converter to deliver solar electricity on demand.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Full-Spectrum Stacked Solar-Thermal and PV Receiver

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop a
    hybrid solar converter that integrates a thermal absorber and a
    solar cell into a layered stack. The design allows focused
    sunlight to heat fluid piped through layers of optically
    transparent thermal insulation. The part of the spectrum most
    easily converted to electricity filters through to the solar cells.
    This unique stack design would enable low-cost solar energy
    conversion systems that can flexibly dispatch electricity when
    most needed.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Full-Spectrum Stacked Solar-Thermal and PV Receiver

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop a
    hybrid solar converter that integrates a thermal absorber and a
    solar cell into a layered stack. The design allows focused
    sunlight to heat fluid piped through layers of optically
    transparent thermal insulation. The part of the spectrum most
    easily converted to electricity filters through to the solar cells.
    This unique stack design would enable low-cost solar energy
    conversion systems that can flexibly dispatch electricity when
    most needed.

  • MicroLink Devices

    Full-Spectrum Stacked Solar-Thermal and PV Receiver

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop a
    hybrid solar converter that integrates a thermal absorber and a
    solar cell into a layered stack. The design allows focused
    sunlight to heat fluid piped through layers of optically
    transparent thermal insulation. The part of the spectrum most
    easily converted to electricity filters through to the solar cells.
    This unique stack design would enable low-cost solar energy
    conversion systems that can flexibly dispatch electricity when
    most needed.

  • Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

    Full-Spectrum Stacked Solar-Thermal and PV Receiver

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop a
    hybrid solar converter that integrates a thermal absorber and a
    solar cell into a layered stack. The design allows focused
    sunlight to heat fluid piped through layers of optically
    transparent thermal insulation. The part of the spectrum most
    easily converted to electricity filters through to the solar cells.
    This unique stack design would enable low-cost solar energy
    conversion systems that can flexibly dispatch electricity when
    most needed.

  • Otherlab

    Hybrid Solar Converter with Solar Pond Receiver

    Otherlab will develop an integrated system that splits the solar
    spectrum, converting the most suitable wavelengths of
    sunlight into electricity via high-efficiency solar cells and using
    the rest of the spectrum to directly heat a pool of molten salt.
    The system will collect sunlight using an array of small,
    pneumatically driven mirrors that track the sun’s movement,
    allowing the molten salt pool to cost-effectively store solar
    heat for generation of dispatchable electricity. This technology
    could enable a low-cost solar system that would fit easily
    inside a football field, in contrast to today’s solar fields that
    can cover several square miles.

  • Sharp Labs of America

    High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Solar Energy System

    Sharp Labs of America will develop a hybrid solar converter
    that incorporates a partially transmitting mirror to reflect
    visible wavelengths of light to extremely high-efficiency solar
    cells while passing ultraviolet and most infrared light to heat a
    thermal fluid. The extremely high concentration of visible
    wavelengths of light would allow expensive solar cells to be used in an inexpensive converter. The converter could enable utilities to provide dispatchable, on-demand, solar electricity at low cost.

  • The University of Tulsa

    Liquid Filter with Plasmonic Nanoparticles

    The University of Tulsa will develop a hybrid solar converter
    that captures non-visible wavelengths of light to heat a fluid
    containing light-absorbing nanoparticles that are far too small
    to be seen with the naked eye. The fluid would also transmit
    the part of the spectrum most easily converted to electricity to
    a solar cell and passes waste heat back to the fluid. This heat
    in the fluid can be stored to provide low-cost solar energy
    beyond the time when the sun is shining.

 

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



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