$3.6 million for East Bay energy research

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.”

flow_batteryLawrence 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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    These projects amount to <$1 / resident of the Bay Area or CA. Big F***ing Deal!