UD researcher among 66 selected to share in energy technology funding

11:19 a.m., Dec. 3, 2012–University of Delaware professor Yushan Yan is among America’s top scientists and engineers working to develop transformational energy technology solutions.

His work is one of 66 cutting-edge research projects selected for more than $130 million in funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) OPEN 2012 program, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Nov. 28.

OPEN 2012 seeks to advance technologies with “the potential to produce game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries and have large commercial impacts.”

With $793,071 in new funding, Yan will work to progress high-voltage flow batteries for stationary energy storage. His research team will concentrate on developing a low-cost, water-based, flow battery that uses membrane technology to increase voltage and energy storage capacity.

“Economical, efficient, and scalable electricity storage technologies are critically needed to cope with the intrinsic irregularity of renewable wind and solar electricity generation,” explains Yan, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at UD.

Flow batteries store chemical energy in external tanks instead of within the battery container. While they are considered promising for their power delivery, scalability and durability, conventional flow batteries offer limited voltage which can lead to low power and energy generation.

Yan’s research group recently developed an encouraging new double-membrane and triple-electrolyte flow battery that provides ultra-high cell voltage and two to three times the energy density of conventional flow batteries. He believes that the project could impact ARPA-E mission areas in terms of realizing and maintaining U.S. technology leadership, energy security and carbon dioxide reduction.

If his team is successful, this flow battery could surpass the DOE 2015 cost targets for stationary energy storage and facilitate the adoption and deployment of renewable energy technology.

Selected based on merit from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of applications, the OPEN 2012 projects encompass 11 technology areas in 24 states. Projects will be led by universities, businesses, national laboratories and non-profits, with research aimed at a wide range of technologies, among them advanced fuels, carbon capture, renewable power and energy storage.

“The 66 projects selected today represent the true mission of ARPA-E: swinging for the fences and trying to hit home runs to support development of the most innovative technologies and change what’s possible for America’s energy future,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a press release.

This is the second time Yan’s research group has received funding from the ARPA-E Open Call. He was selected for ARPA-E’s first funding opportunity, OPEN 2009, three years ago, while a faculty member at University of California, Riverside. In that project, Yan’s group developed new polymer fuel cell membranes to make fuel cells cheaper and thus commercially viable.

Article by Karen B. Roberts

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

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