A pair of East Bay energy research projects will get almost $3.6 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the U.S. Department of Energy announced today.
These two were among 11 California-based projects selected to receive $22 million, in turn part $92 million offered to 43 projects nationwide under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus.
“These innovative ideas will play a critical role in our energy security and economic growth,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in a news release. “It is now more important than ever to invest in a new, clean energy economy.”
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is getting $1,592,730 to develop a new flow-battery system for energy storage on the electric grid. Flow batteries pump reactive chemicals through the battery cell when electricity is needed; this project’s battery will use hydrogen and bromine as its active materials. Flow batteries have existed for decades, but have been plagued by high costs, short lifetimes, and safety concerns; LBNL hopes to refine the model.
And Primus Power of Alameda is receiving $2 million to develop new durable, inexpensive metal electrodes for flow batteries, which are often limited by their electrodes’ high cost and poor durability. Primus hopes to leverage processes developed for other chemical industries to develop novel, low-cost metallic flow battery electrodes, aiming for a five-fold decrease in costs and a doubling of the energy storage system’s power density.
“The country that leads the way in clean energy is the country that is going to lead the world,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in the Energy Department’s news release. “California is already emerging as a hub of the clean energy industry and the grants announced today will move us further in that direction.”
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in whose district Primus Power lies, issued his own statement saying “the Recovery Act continues to pay dividends for our community. This money will fund the development of energy storage units that can make our power grid more efficient and are better suited to use power generated from renewable sources. This is more proof that the East Bay is a hub for green manufacturing jobs.”
The Energy Department had announced in November that Primus Power was getting $14 million for a wind energy “farm” that will store energy for the Modesto Irrigation District, replacing a planned fossil fuel plant; that project’s total cost is $46.7 million.