The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy [ARPA-E] was set up by bipartisan action in 2007, funded by Obama in 2009; expanded by Congress in 2009; and survived attempts by Trump to kill it in both 2017 and 2018.
ARPA-E is a skunkworks project that gives out grants for advanced sustainable energy research that's beyond the initial phases but still too nascent to be commercialized. They've focused on long-term energy storage (a key piece of the picture with renewables) and the portfolio of inventions that have emerged from their funding is mind-bogglingly cool.
Vox's David Robert runs these down, from the wide variety of thermal storage technologies to the flow batteries, to more exotic ideas like fuel cells and pumped water systems.
Of course, Trump hates the agency, both because it is seen as a creature of the Obama regime and thus must be destroyed, and because it will hasten the demise of fossil fuels.
It’s all in what you heat and how much of the energy you get back out. At Michigan State University, they will heat “a bed of magnesium manganese oxide (Mg-Mn-O) particles.” Brayton Energy, in Hampton, New Hampshire, will heat molten salt. Echogen Power Systems, in Akron, Ohio, will heat “a ‘reservoir’ of low cost materials such as sand or concrete.” The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado, will heat “inexpensive solid particles to temperatures greater than 1100°C” and then get the energy out using “a high performance heat exchanger and closed loop Brayton cycle turbine,” which certainly sounds cool.
Antora Energy, in Fremont, California, will heat “inexpensive carbon blocks” (to 2000° C!). Antora is somewhat unique in that it will get the energy back out not through a turbine, but with “thermophotovoltaic” solar panels “specifically designed to efficiently use the heat radiated by the blocks.”
Thermal storage doesn’t get a lot of press in the energy world — heat is somehow less sexy than electricity — but it has enormous potential to speed decarbonization. It would be awesome to see one of these techs catch on.
A tiny, beleaguered government agency seeks an energy holy grail: long-term energy storage
(via Naked Capitalism)
Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes’ cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was […]
While scientists have studied Moon rocks for 50 years, researchers have for the first time conducted deep analysis on a single grain of lunar dust, atom by atom. Using a common materials science technique called atom probe tomography that’s not widely used by geologists, the Chicago Field Museum’s Jennika Greer and colleagues probed the grain […]
This is so amazing. Watch what happens when a blacksmithing anvil is lowered into a large vat of pure liquid mercury. Update: One of our readers posted the link to the original video in the comments. I have replaced the animated GIF. Thanks, Crispy75. [H/t Alberto Gaitán via Bryce Lynch] Image: Screengrab from GIF
Despite legalization in 11 states and decriminalization in 15 more, marijuana-based products are still an often tough sell with many Americans. While the psychoactive THC portion of the plant remains controversial, the medicinal impact of the non-altering component of cannibis, CBD, is widely hailed. Many portions of those claims still await medical verification, but for […]
If you remember your Norse mythology (or just watched Marvel’s Thor movies), you’re probably familiar with Heimdal, the god whose ever-watchful eye was entrusted with protecting the home of the gods in Asgard. Back on Earth, Heimdal Thor is also the name of a security package from Heimdal Security, that’s actually dedicated to much the […]
Everyone’s got their nose in a phone these days, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon. With the increase in mobile device and e-commerce reliance comes increased need for developers who can build the apps we’re all so glued to. In fact, employment of devs is expected to grow up to […]