WASHINGTON ― The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has announced $60 million in funding for 23 groundbreaking new projects aimed at creating highly efficient and scalable dry-cooling technologies for thermoelectric power plants and developing prototype technologies to explore new pathways for fusion power.
The projects are funded through ARPA-E’s two newest programs, Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) and Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA), which both seek to develop low-cost technology solutions.
“These new projects emphasize ARPA-E’s commitment to developing a wide range of technology options to ensure a more affordable and sustainable energy future,” said ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams. “Investing in innovative dry cooling technologies for power plants as well as intermediate density fusion illustrates ARPA-E’s role in accelerating energy research and development.”
Additional information on ARPA-E’s ARID and ALPHA programs is included below. Details on ARID’s 14 projects may be found here and details on ALPHA’s nine projects may be found here.
Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) – $30 Million
ARPA-E’s ARID program will fund transformative new power plant cooling technologies that enable high thermal-to-electric energy conversion efficiency with zero net water dissipation to the atmosphere.
The program plans to provide $30 million to support 14 project teams in developing innovative, ultra-high-performance air-cooled heat exchangers, supplemental cooling systems and/or cool-storage systems that can cost-effectively and efficiently reject waste heat. ARPA-E project teams will work to design kilowatt-scale testing prototypes to help ensure the technologies can scale up to megawatt-cooling capacity without significant performance loss.
If successful, these new cooling technologies could significantly reduce water usage at thermoelectric plants without sacrificing a plant’s performance or increasing its cooling costs. For example, the University of Colorado at Boulder will develop radiative cooled-cold storage modules and a system called RadiCold to enable efficient, low-cost supplementary cooling for power plants.
View details on ARID’s 14 projects here.
Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA) – $30 Million
ARPA-E’s ALPHA program will develop the tools to build foundations for new pathways toward fusion power.
ALPHA is focused on approaches in the intermediate ion density regime between lower density magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) and higher density inertial confinement fusion (ICF). This intermediate density regime is not as well explored as the more mature MCF and ICF approaches, and it may offer new opportunities for fusion reactors with energy and power requirements that are compatible with low-cost technologies such as pulsed power or piston-driven compression.
The ALPHA program will provide $30 million to support nine project teams in creating technologies designed to explore the intermediate density regime and provide the basis for the development of fusion power at a lower cost than technologies available today.
View details on ALPHA’s nine projects here.