WASHINGTON, D.C. - United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) has been awarded a $2.7 million cooperative agreement by the Department of Energy (DOE) to lead ARPA-E's Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (IONICS) program. The IONICS program enables a more cost effective and efficient flow battery technology for electrical energy storage. UTRC is the innovation engine of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
"UTRC is enabling the next generation of flow batteries to be produced at a substantially lower capital cost," said Mike Perry, project leader and electrochemical systems engineer at UTRC. "Through the IONICS program, UTRC will continue to transform the capital cost of flow batteries, enabling these products to be even more commercially viable."
Directly supporting ARPA-E's transformational energy mission, the IONICS program can lead to more widely used renewable energy and less reliance on fossil fuels. Flow batteries may be used wherever energy storage is needed for long durations. This technology is critical for grid storage in large capacity applications, such as solar or wind farms.
"The beauty of storage is it enables renewable energy even when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing," Perry said. "By making this technology more affordable, widespread renewable energy is becoming more attainable."
Flow batteries can enable cost reduction and energy security for commercial scale applications like facilities and campuses involving building to grid optimization and microgrids. This small-footprint and long-term storage option provides a viable alternative to costly and environmentally disruptive transmission and distribution (T&D) investments.
This project targets the two most expensive components of flow batteries -- membranes and reactants, which make up more than half the cost of a state-of-the-art flow battery system. By using more affordable materials, the cost of reactants and membranes significantly decreases. Additionally, these more affordable materials can enable superior energy efficiency, resulting in a more durable and efficient product.
While UTRC serves as the IONICS program lead, multiple organizations will contribute to the project. External organizations include Advent Technologies, Harvard University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and the University of South Carolina. Prior to the IONICS contract award, UTRC began collaborating with Massachusetts-based VIONX Energy to commercialize flow battery technology developed through a previous ARPA-E program.
As the innovation hub of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) supports the development of new technologies and capabilities across the company and collaborates with external research organizations, universities and government agencies globally to push the boundaries of science and technology. UTRC is headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut, with additional operations at its affiliate in Berkeley, California. UTRC subsidiaries also carry out research and development work in Shanghai, China; Rome, Italy; and Cork, Ireland. UTC, based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries.
Acknowledgment: "The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-AR0000767. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof."
Stephanie Duvall, UTRC, (860) 614-0783