Today, Berkeley Lab’s Cyclotron Road program announced the selection of its second cohort of innovators, whose projects include next generation batteries, advanced materials, biomanufacturing, and solar technologies. Cyclotron Road recruits entrepreneurial researchers and embeds them at Berkeley Lab for up to two years in a mentored technology entrepreneurship program.
When scientists Daniel Riley and Jared Schwede left Stanford University last year to join Cyclotron Road, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s program for entrepreneurial researchers, their vision was to take thermionics, an all-but-forgotten technology, and develop it into a clean, compact, and efficient source of power.
It’s estimated that 10 percent of all the energy used in buildings in the U.S. can be attributed to window performance, costing building owners about $50 billion annually, yet the high cost of replacing windows or retrofitting them with an energy efficient coating is a major deterrent. Berkeley Lab researchers are seeking to address this problem with creative chemistry—a polymer heat-reflective coating that can be painted on at one-tenth the cost.
Research from Berkeley Lab appeared on Capitol Hill recently to show off innovation in energy efficiency, including a backpack-mounted system for quickly mapping energy use throughout a building. That was but one project showcased at this year’s ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, which also included speakers from Berkeley Lab.
Innovation on the Cutting-Edge: Advancing Energy Efficiency Through Two New ARPA-E Projects at Berkeley Lab
Berkeley Lab scientists are exploring whether a common soil bacterium can be engineered to produce liquid transportation fuels much more efficiently than the ways in which advanced biofuels are made today. The process would be powered only by hydrogen and electricity. The goal is a biofuel—or electrofuel, as this new approach is called—that doesn’t require photosynthesis.
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are working on a project that would modernize the grid and essentially bring it into the Internet age by using automated control software to manage demand in real time. The project has been awarded $2.865 million by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, or ARPA-E, whose mission is to invest in potentially transformational energy technologies.
This week’s ARPA-E Summit features several Berkeley Lab-led projects, all aimed at dramatically improving how the U.S. produces and uses energy. Among them is an effort to produce transportation fuel from tobacco. The goal is to engineer tobacco plants that use energy from the sun to produce fuel molecules directly in their leaves.
Berkeley Lab researchers will play major roles in three new cutting-edge energy research projects being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). These three projects entail the development of tobacco as a source of biofuels, creation of a personalized system for reducing customer demands for electrical power when the grid is congested, and development of a commercial process for extracting biofuels from the resin of pine trees.
The battery research team at Berkeley Lab, recognized as one of the best in the country, is engaged in high-risk, high-reward research, striving for technology breakthroughs as well as incremental advances. Their work could help drive a transformation of the vehicle industry and make electric vehicles as common as laptops and cell phones for American consumers.