California companies snag $22 million stimulus cash for energy research projects

In an effort to promote clean energy, the White House announced 11 new projects that will accelerate innovation in clean energy technologies for California-based companies using taxpayer’s stimulus money.

The companies were selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive $22 million for research projects that aim to improve how the U.S. uses and produces clean energy.

The announcement came from Department of Energy, Secretary, Steven Chu, and the Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) which is awarding a total of $92 million from the Stimulus Act. Nearly half of the chosen companies, 22 of the 43 cutting-edge businesses are located in the Golden State.

The grants from the U.S. government ensured that businesses focus on accelerating innovation in green technology while increasing America’s competitiveness in grid scale energy storage, power electronics and energy efficient cooling systems.

“These innovative ideas will play a critical role in our energy security and economic growth,” said Secretary Chu. “It is now more important than ever to invest in a new, clean energy economy.”

California Senator Barbara Boxer said, “The country that leads the way in clean energy is the country that is going to lead the world. California is already emerging as a hub of the clean energy industry and the grants announced today will move us further in that direction.”

These projects couldn’t come at a better time for Boxer as she is in a tough reelection race with former Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina.

For the first time the Boxer is trailing the Republican challenger Fiorina by 2 points; 47 percent to 45 percent. The new Survey USA poll of likely voters was released late Monday. Fiorina has been closing in on Boxer in recent weeks and cut the Democrat’s lead from six to five, to four, to three points in recent polls, but this is the poll showing Fiorina leading Boxer in the navy blue state.

The grants awarded by the DOE went to 18 states with 36 percent of the clean energy projects being led by universities, 33 percent to small business innovators, 24 percent to large companies, 5 percent to national labs and 2 percent to non-profit organizations.

The grants complete ARPA-E’s funding under its Recovery Act: in each of the three rounds of awards since Department of Energy has selected 117 projects totaling $349 million in funding, all to support research that can deliver technological breakthrough changes in how the U.S. generates, stores, and utilizes energy.

The companies who received the stimulus money include;

HRL Laboratories, LLC (Malibu, CA) Switches – Automobiles: Gallium-Nitride Switch Technology for Bi-directional Battery-to-Grid Charger Applications: The purpose of this project is to develop efficient, compact, and low-cost battery chargers for electric cars. This compact battery charger will support two-way power flow enabling the electrical grid to access the vehicle’s battery. DOE award: $5,058,803.

Teledyne Scientific & Imaging (Thousand Oaks, CA) Magnetics/Switches – Lighting: Integrated Power Chip Converter for Solid State Lighting: This project will develop a single integrated circuit that will convert the 120V AC from an electrical outlet to direct current required for LED lighting. DOE award: $3,439,494.

Transphorm Inc (Goleta, CA) Switches – Motors: High Performance GaN HEMT Modules for Agile Power Electronics: This project seeks to foster the adoption of energy-efficient, variable speed motors that are employed in industrial uses from industrial automation to air-conditioning. DOE award: $2,950,000.

Counseling & Consulting Associates (San Diego, CA) Gas Cycles: Centrifugal Air Cycle Air Conditioning System: The centrifugal air conditioning system uses air as a refrigerant and a novel compact system that boosts performance. DOE award: $400,000.

Material Methods LLC (Irvine, CA) Gas Cycles: Phononic Heat Pump: This project will demonstrate a refrigerator that pumps heat using sound waves. Low cost and high reliability result from high thermal efficiency and mechanical simplicity with no linkages, no exotic materials, and simple construction. The working fluid is environmentally safe and friendly. DOE award: $399,800.

The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA) Solid State Cooling: Compact MEMS Electrocaloric Cooling Module: This project will develop a novel solid-state cooling technology to translate a recent scientific discovery of the enhanced electrocaloric effort into commercially viable compact cooling systems that have reduced energy consumption and avoid the use of refrigerants to cool building spaces. DOE award: $520,547.

Boeing (Huntington Beach, CA) Flywheel: Low-Cost, High-Energy Density Flywheel Storage Grid Demonstration: In this project, Boeing will develop a high-risk materials technology for low-cost, high energy-density flywheel energy storage. DOE award: $2,264,136.

General Atomics (San Diego, CA) Flow Battery: GRIDS Soluble Lead Flow Battery Technology: General Atomics and the University of California San Diego will develop a novel flow battery technology, which pumps chemicals through the battery cell when electricity is needed. DOE award: $1,986,308.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, CA) Flow Battery: Hydrogen-Bromine Flow Batteries for Grid-Scale Energy Storage: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its team of industrial partners (DuPont, Bosch, 3M, and Proton Energy) will develop a novel flow-battery system for grid applications. 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. DOE award: $1,592,730.

Primus Power (Alameda, CA) Flow Battery: Low-Cost, High Performance 50 Year Electrodes: Primus Power will develop new durable, inexpensive metal electrodes for flow batteries for energy storage on the electric grid. Electrodes are a key component of flow batteries, which pump reactive chemicals through the battery cell when electricity is needed. DOE award: $2,000,000.

University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) Battery: A Robust and Inexpensive Iron-Air Rechargeable Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage: Researchers at the University of Southern California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will team together to develop a high-performance rechargeable battery for large-scale energy storage on the electricity grid. Iron air batteries have the potential to store large amounts of energy inexpensively since they rely on extremely low-cost materials: iron, which costs less than $.20/pound, and oxygen, which is free in ambient air. DOE award: $1,459,324.

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