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ARPA-E RANGE: $20M for robust transformational energy storage systems for EVs; 3x the range at 1/3 the cost

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000869) for about $20 million for the development of transformational electrochemical energy storage technologies intended to accelerate widespread electric vehicle adoption by significantly improving driving range, cost, and reliability. ARPA-E anticipates making approximately 8- 12 awards under this FOA.

The Robust Affordable Next Generation EV-Storage (RANGE) program’s goal is to enable a 3X increase in electric vehicle range (from ~80 to ~240 miles per charge) with a simultaneous price reduction of > 1/3 (to ~ $30,000). If successful, these vehicles will provide near cost and range parity to gasoline-powered ICE vehicles, ARPA-E said.

RANGE is focused on supporting chemistry and system concepts in energy storage with robust designs in one or both of:

  • Category 1: Low-cost, rechargeable energy storage chemistries and architectures with robust designs;

  • Category 2: Multifunctional energy storage designs.

ARPA-E defines robust design as electrochemical energy storage chemistries and/or architectures (i.e. physical designs) that avoid thermal runaway and are immune to catastrophic failure regardless of manufacturing quality or abuse conditions.

Examples of robust designs cited by ARPA-E include: the development of an electrochemical energy storage chemistry that utilizes non-combustible aqueous or solid state electrolytes; the use of a redox flow battery architecture that is inherently more robust due to the physical separation (storage) of its active components far from the cell electrodes; and the design of a mechanism that allows a battery to automatically fail in open circuit when placed under abuse conditions.

Robust designs can transform EV design and create new pathways to dramatically lower cost by: 1) reducing the demands on system-level engineering and its associated weight and cost; 2) liberating the energy storage system from the need for vehicle impact protection, which allows the energy storage to be positioned anywhere on the vehicle, thereby freeing-up the EV design; and 3) enabling multiple functions, such as assisting vehicle crash energy management and carrying structural load.

For this first category, examples of technical approaches include but are not limited to:

  • High specific energy aqueous batteries. Areas of particular interest are approaches to novel high specific energy cathode/anode redox couples; materials and device designs for long life metal-air systems; ultrahigh capacity negative electrode materials to replace La-Ni alloys in nickel metal hydride batteries; and organic and inorganic redox couples, including their hybrids.

  • Ceramic and other solid electrolyte batteries. Areas of particular interests are high conductivity inorganic electrolytes for lithium and other alkaline metal ion systems; and solid state and hybrid battery designs and low cost manufacturing processes.

  • Other batteries completely without or with negligible combustible or flammable materials.

  • Materials and architectures that eliminate the possibility of thermal runaway.

  • Robust design architectures. Examples include flow cells and electrically rechargeable fuel cells, fail open circuited designs, non-propagating system architectures, and designs resulting in reductions in individual storage unit sizes and energy contents.

  • Hybridization of different energy storage chemistries and architectures to offer improved robustness including mechanical abuse tolerance.

The second objective of RANGE is to fund the development of multifunctional energy storage systems. Robust design characteristics may enable energy storage systems to simultaneously serve other functions on an electric vehicle. Energy storage systems which absorb impulse energy during a vehicle crash and/or which carry mechanical load are of particular interest, ARPA-E suggested. Both of these functions are expected to extend the EV’s operating range by reducing the vehicle’s overall weight.

For Category 2, examples of technical approaches include but are not limited to:

  • Energy storage systems that assist vehicle impact energy management. Areas of particular interest are material, cell, pack, and system designs that act synergistically with the rest of the vehicle structure to manage mechanical impact. Energy absorption mechanisms may include deformation, disintegration, and disengagement by design.

  • Energy storage systems that act as structural members. In this case, the energy storage system may directly replace other structural members of the vehicle in the load path.

  • Energy storage systems that serve other vehicle functions not listed above.

ARPA-E anticipates that the core technologies developed under this program will advance all categories of electrified vehicles (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, extended-range electric, and all-electric vehicles); however, the primary focus of this program is on all-electric vehicles.

Technical performance targets. The final research objective for projects funded under this FOA is a fully integrated energy storage unit with energy content of 1 kWh or greater. ARPA-E is setting primary technical targets of:

  • Cost to manufacture: < 100 - 125 $/kWh
  • Effective specific energy:> 150 Wh/kg
  • Effective energy density:> 230 Wh/L

Secondary technical targets are:

  • Cycle life at 80% depth of discharge (DOD): > 1000
  • Calendar life: > 10 years
  • Effective specific Power – Discharge, 80% DOD/30 s: > 300 W/kg
  • Operating temperature: >-30 °C (a higher bound is not defined)

Specifically not of interest to ARPA-E are:

  • Applications that fall outside the technical parameters, including but not limited to: incremental improvements to Li-ion components that have little potential to reduce system complexity, weight, and cost; approaches that employ higher specific energy cells coupled with a reduction in packing factor; incremental improvements to mechanical protection structures for energy storage systems; sensing,monitoring,and modeling of lithium-ion battery cells and systems that improve diagnosis but do not reduce system cost and improve crash worthiness; and energy storage technologies with significantly lower performance than lithium-ion batteries at a vehicle level, unless they are offered as part of a system solution that meet program metrics.

  • Applications that were already submitted to pending ARPA-E FOAs. Also, applications that are not scientifically distinct from applications submitted to pending ARPA-E FOAs.

  • Applications for basic research aimed at discovery and fundamental knowledge generation.

  • Applications for large-scale demonstration projects of existing technologies.

  • Applications for proposed technologies that represent incremental improvements to existing technologies.

  • Applications for proposed technologies that are not based on sound scientific principles (e.g., violates a law of thermodynamics).

  • Applications for proposed technologies that do not have the potential to become disruptive in nature.

ARPA-E also published a list of potential teaming partners for the RANGE FOA.



Excellent idea but 5 to 10 years late and 10,000 times too little.

Had $200+B been invested 10 years ago, batteries with 3+X the energy density and 1/3 the price would already be common place.

Had we kept away from One Single Oil War (Irak) and invested 50% of that oil war cost into batteries development and lower cost mass production, many of us would already be driving $25,000 extended range EVs.


Sad, but true. :-(


"Energy absorption mechanisms may include deformation, disintegration, and disengagement by design."

This has some possibilities.. imagine the flat battery pack underneath the Tesla S, in a high speed crash the pack releases from the car and continues moving forward.. that 1000lbs pack just stole momentum from the rest of the car, reducing the chance of death.. of course the now free pack just became a missile.. but the passengers are safe


All Greens salivating to put lithium ion batteries in every car should think again. This is what the NTSB found in that Boeing which caught fire in Boston:,industry_aero,aid_258717&dfpLayout=article

Thanks but no thanks.


@Mannstein, thanks for link - and also consider that BEV's have been on US roads, counting the uncrushed ~400 RAV4 EVs, 16 years, since 1997.

This seems to back step from 5X, 1/5th, within 5 years batteries. DOE Sec Steven Chu joked 4X, but "all 'fives' sounded better."

Let's hope they are basing these huge advance expectations on simply coordinating first term/4 year battery breakthroughs.

Frankly, a "good enough for government work"/75% passing X 4X = 3X marketed battery energy density improvement within five years would totally alter light vehicles and society.

Oil would only be needed for heavy haul/~10% cross-country travel. F$%k the Rock#feller/Saudi's/oil.

The buyers of 2013, $18,800 Leafs could exchange batteries for ~$3,000, 240 mile range 2018 batteries - and use the old battery for home power backup or get a ~$1,000(s?) credit - and have a virtually new car.


@ kelly

According to the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium Primary Criteria for mid term advanced EV batteries the ultimate price for batteries must be ($/kWh) ( 10,000 units at 40 kWh) less than $150 and for the long term less than $100. This was published in the Handbook of Batteries second edition in 1990s on page 39.11. We are a long way from the mid term target even though it's 20years since this was published.

I too want to stop paying for weekly fill up's but an affordable practical EV is still off in the distant future or else they would be flying out of car dealers' show rooms. Reminds me of the Magnetic Fusion Power Plants which were promised in the 1960s to be operational at the turn of the century. Latest I read from the main man at Princeton Univ. these are now slated to appear mid century. Go figure!


@ HarveyD

Had we invested half the ammount you propose 5 years ago in fuel cell development we'd have EVs flying off the shelf.


A mid-size auto MIGHT get 25-33 mpg average. Prius hybrids get 50 mpg. Already, from a ~1.4 kwh battery, we can reduce gas use by over a third, esp. in cities.

A Prius C is under $20,000, Prius under $27,000. The average US new car sold price is $30,800.

Even a C-Max plug-in(20 miles gas-free/trip) is under $30,000 w/$3k tax credit - so enjoy if your in the market.


Yes Kelly.... KitP and friends may not like it but electrified vehicles + improved e-ancillaries + associated infrastructures are building up fast. Progress in improved batteries and lighter vehicles may be slower than expected but resistance is being progressively overtaken every where.

Decent improved batteries (close to 500 Wh/Kg) at lower price (close to $150/kWh) and much lighter cars (under 800 Kg) will be available by 2018/2020 or so.

Affordable extended range BEVs (up to 450 miles or a bit more) will hit the market place by 2020/2022 or so.

Those of us who will live another 10 years will see the switch from ICEVs to BEVs. The complete transition will probably take another 20+ years.


By the way, the latest news on Boeing 787 battery problems is pointing towards 'bad and/or wrong wiring' of the battery control units.

The complete story should come out within one month or so.



It may well be that the commercial Fusion power plants will not be there until the 2040s. But unlike the 1970s, we have now produced large amounts of controlled Fusion energy. Many at Cadarache are wanting to start design in detail, of the first commercial Fusion power plant, starting in 2017 less than 5 years from now.

That is even before the ITER will produce First Plasma. Everything that ITER was to develop or prove, from a Physics perspective, has already been achieved piece meal around the world in smaller facilities.

ITER is the last test of scale up, and the first to really address the engineering efforts needed for commercial Fusion. That scaleup effort turned out not to be as overwhelming as was feared, and quite straight forward, instead.

There are no more plasma instabilities to be encountered or solutions to them to be developed. We know that because reactors run for longer intervals approaching relative steady state and much longer than the lifetime of all the plasma instabilities. There have seemingly been hundreds of plasma instabilities encountered, but now they all have been encountered, catalogued, the Physics understood, and solutions both passive and active discovered, tried and tested.

Commercial Fusion is much closer than you think, and much shorter in time away, than the time since the First Petroleum Price Crisis in 1973.

That is reassuring since the the "renewable" power systems have turned into governmental subsidized white elephants. They just do not scale any better today, or overcome their inherent limitations, than when they were abandoned 150 years ago, despite the prodigious spending of governments around the world.

When electric vehicles are advanced enough to compete, there will be the clean and inexhaustible power plants producing electricity to re-power them.

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