ARPA-E to award $10M to third SEED cohort 02 February 2022 The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to$10 million in the third round of funding ARPA-E has announced under the Supporting Entrepreneurial Energy Discoveries (SEED) Exploratory Topic.

Successful SEED projects should create new paradigms in energy technology and have the potential to achieve significant reductions in US energy consumption, energy-related imports, or energy-related emissions. SEED awards will support research projects that establish potential new areas for technology development and provide ARPA-E with information that could lead to new ARPA-E focused funding programs.

Awards may support exploratory research to establish viability, proof-of-concept demonstration for new energy technology, and/or modeling and simulation efforts to guide development for new energy technologies.

Sample awards from the first and second SEED cohorts include:

• Sequoia Scientific. Real-Time, In-Situ Sensing Of Sediment Properties For Environmental Monitoring Of Deep-Sea Polymetallic Nodule Mining
Sequoia Scientific will develop a monitoring system to assess the concentrations and properties of sediment stirred up during deep-sea mining activities. The technology uses novel laser-light scattering and high‑resolution video imagery and processing to measure the concentration, size, and settling speed of the sediment in situ. The technology will help determine the environmental impact of deep-sea mining activities.

• Deep Reach Technology. Improved Nodule Collector Design To Mitigate Sediment Plumes
Deep Reach Technology will design a novel nodule collector to minimize the impact of sediment plumes generated by seabed mining, which may disperse and cover the seabed beyond the mining area. The project uses augmented screening and seabed electrocoagulation to achieve this goal. The proposed technology has the potential to fast-track deep sea mining.

• UHV Technologies. Highly Efficient Vacuum Smelting Of Aluminum
UHV Technologies will develop and demonstrate an innovative aluminum smelting technology that will significantly increase the range of aluminum alloys that can be manufactured from recycled scrap aluminum. This will reduce the need for primary aluminum with corresponding energy and environmental benefits. Using UHV’s patented high-throughput sorter, aluminum alloys will be pre-sorted, then melted in an energy-efficient vacuum furnace to avoid the typical 5% metal loss from molten metal oxidation, allowing for lower-cost production of high-value aluminum alloys. Currently ~60% of total US aluminum usage comes from recycling. The proposed technology can be used as a point-of-use smelter at various foundries resulting in almost 50% energy savings during the melting of recycled aluminum to make products.

• Celadyne Technologies. Nanoionics Enabled Proton Conducting Ionomers
Celadyne Technologies will develop an innovative elevated temperature proton conducting ionomer material. The team improves upon existing technology relying on acid-base chemistry in favor of an approach driven by defect chemistry and interfacial nanoionic interactions. The technology could improve efficiency in proton exchange membrane fuel cells and electrolyzers and reduce CO2 emissions.

• Adroit Materials. Ion Implantation-Enabled Fabrication Of AlN-Based Schottky Diodes
Adroit Materials will grow and fabricate aluminum nitride (AlN)-based Schottky diodes with electrical properties that will drastically reduce forward conduction (energy) losses compared with existing high-power diodes. The team will achieve this objective through implanting silicon ions in AlN, a wide bandgap semiconductor, combined with sophisticated point defect control processes to achieve controlled low doping. These breakthroughs enable a paradigm shift for the feasibility of AlN in next-generation power electronics.

• Origen Hydrogen. Engineering Of Scalable Platinum-Free Electrodes For Pure-Water Aem Water Electrolysis
Green hydrogen, which is produced with renewable energy and electrolysis, can reduce emissions for the ammonia fertilizer, refineries, chemicals, and steel industries that use hydrogen as a feedstock. Existing water electrolysis technologies are expensive due to high materials cost or complex balance-of-plant systems required when using conventional alkaline electrolysis. The ARPA-E IONICS program developed highly conductive, chemically stable anion exchange membranes that are now commercially produced. Origen Hydrogen aims to develop high-performance, platinum-free electrodes to compliment these breakthrough materials for pure-water electrolysis operation. The team will use engineered low-cost, scalable electrodes that are resistant to the most common degradation pathways.

• Phoenix Tailings. Novel Technique For Domestic Rare Earth Oxide Separation And Rare Earth Metal Reduction
Rare earth metals (REMs) are crucial for a domestic clean energy future, as they are key to several emerging technologies from wind turbines to electric vehicles. Currently, high energy requirements, hazardous waste generation, and the associated costs inhibit domestic commercial viability of rare earth separation and metallization processes, so rare earth material is sent to China for processing. Phoenix Tailings (PT) has developed novel techniques to separate rare earth oxides (REOs) without the use of hazardous chemicals and reduce them to REMs using 35-45% less energy. PT will separate REOs through selective halogenation and use mixed halide salts to reduce them. The result is a new domestic rare earth supply chain that removes cost-preventative energy requirements and environmentally unacceptable solvents.

• Sitration. Low-Cost Recycling Of Lithium From Batteries Via Conductive Membrane Nanofiltration
The demand for lithium, a critical component of lithium-ion batteries, is expected to soar over the coming decades. As favorable sources are depleted, a new source must be tapped: recycling end-of-life lithium-ion batteries. SiTration is developing a new type of filtration membrane that is well suited to selectively extract lithium in the existing battery recycling process flow. Today’s commercial membranes are either incompatible with the harsh chemical environments of battery recycling or not selective enough to extract lithium from a complex solution. SiTration’s nanofiltration technology provides significant advantages in these areas. It can be dropped into the existing recycling process, ultimately extracting lithium more efficiently and at a lower cost.