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New Nanomaterial Supports Hydrogen Production from Methanol (New Prod & Tech, Alternative Fuel)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Date: 2021-01-04
In an open-access paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Molecular Foundry report they have designed and synthesized ultrasmall nickel nanoclusters deposited on defect-rich BN nanosheet (Ni/BN) catalysts that can cleanly and efficiently accelerate the reaction that removes hydrogen atoms from a liquid chemical carrier such as methanol and could help make hydrogen a viable energy source for a wide range of applications, including alternative transportation fuels.

The research is part of the Hydrogen Materials Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), a consortium funded by the US DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE EERE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

For the chemical reaction that produces hydrogen from liquid carriers, the most effective catalysts are made from precious metals. However, those catalysts are associated with high costs and low abundance and are susceptible to contamination. Other less expensive catalysts, made from more common metals, tend to be less effective and less stable, which limits their activity and their practical deployment into hydrogen production industries. LBNL will hone the strategy of modifying 2D substrates in ways that support tiny metal clusters, to develop even more efficient catalysts. The technique could help optimize the process of extracting hydrogen from liquid chemical carriers.

The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science and EERE's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office. (Source: LBNL, PR, Website, Green Car Congress, 3 Jan., 2021) Contact: LBNL, Molecular Foundry, Jeff Urban, Inorganic Nanostructures Facility Director, Laurel Kellner, Media, 510-590-8034,,; Hydrogen Materials Advanced Research Consortium,

More Low-Carbon Energy News Alternative Fuel,  Hydrogen,  Methanol,  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ,  

DOE Announces $130Mn Funding for Solar Tech. Projects (Funding)
DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solar Energy Technologies
Date: 2020-11-16
In Washington , the U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is reporting the selection of 67 research project across 30 states for a total of $130 million in grant funding to reduce the cost of solar, increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and improve the reliability of the nation's electric grid.

Along with advancing research in photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) and systems integration, the projects in DOE's SETO Fiscal Year 2020 Funding Program include research in artificial intelligence (AI), hybrid plants, and solar with agriculture. The following projects are being funded:

  • PV Hardware Research -- $14 million for eight projects that aim to make PV systems last longer and increase the reliability of solar systems made of silicon solar cells, as well as new technologies like thin-film and bifacial solar cells.

  • Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Brayton Cycle Equipment Demonstration (Integrated TESTBED) -- $39 million will be awarded to Heliogen, Inc., which will build and operate a supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle that will serve as a test site to accelerate the commercialization of low-cost CSP plants.

  • Systems Integration -- $34 million for 10 research projects that will develop resilient community microgrids to maintain power during and restore power after man-made or natural disasters, improve cybersecurity for PV inverters and power systems, and develop advanced hybrid plants that operate collaboratively with other resources for improved reliability and resilience.

  • AI Applications in Solar Energy with Emphasis on Machine Learning -- $7.3 million for 10 projects that use AI and machine learning to optimize operations and solar forecasting, improve situational awareness on the distribution system and behind the meter, and enable the integration of more solar generation.

  • Innovations in Manufacturing: Hardware Incubator -- $14 million for 10 research projects that will advance innovative prototypes to a pre-commercial stage, including products that support U.S. solar manufacturing and reduce the cost of installation.

  • Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 3 -- $9.7 million for six research projects that will examine how information gets to stakeholders to enable better decision-making about solar and combining solar with energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicles.

  • Solar and Agriculture: System Design, Value Frameworks, and Impacts Analysis -- $7 million for four projects that will advance the technologies, research, and practices necessary for farmers, ranchers, and others to co-locate solar and agriculture.

  • Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): PV and CSP -- $5 million for 18 projects that advance innovative, novel ideas in PV and CSP that can produce significant results in one year. (Source: US DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office, Website PR, 12 Nov., 2020) Contact: US DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office ,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Solar,  US DOE EERE,  

  • FuelCell Energy Claims $8Mn DOE Contract (Ind. Report)
    FuelCell Energy
    Date: 2020-10-14
    Danbury, Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy is reporting receipt of an $8-million contract from the US DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), in collaboration with the Office of Nuclear Energy, to design and manufacture a SureSource electrolysis platform capable of producing hydrogen.

    The project will be the first multi-stack electrolysis system produced with the solid oxide technology and equipped with an option of receiving thermal energy, thereby increasing the electrolysis electrical efficiency to more than 90 pct. The Idaho National Laboratories (INL) will test the system to confirm the electric efficiency and the ability to utilize nuclear power plant waste heat to obtain higher efficiencies of up to 100 pct.

    Fuel Cell Energy aims is to deliver clean, efficient and affordable fuel cell solutions configured for the supply, recovery and storage of energy for customers. This new project can assist FuelCell to commercialize the high-efficiency solid oxide electrolysis technology, according to the release. (Source: Fuel Cell Energy, PR, Yahoo Finance, 12 Oct., 2020)Contact: FuelCell Energy, Jason Few, CEO, 203-825-6000,,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News FuelCell Energy,  Energy Storage,  

    DOE Offers $20Mn to Advance Perovskite Solar Tech (R&D, Funding)
    DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    Date: 2020-08-14
    In Washington, the U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). has announced $20 million in funding to advance perovskite solar photovoltaic technologies. When used to create solar cells, perovskites have shown potential for high performance and low production costs. To be competitive in the marketplace, perovskite’s long-term durability must be tested and verified, the aim of this funding opportunity announcement.

    The DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office is aiming to improve understanding of perovskite stability; establish methods to produce high-efficiency, stable perovskite devices using industry-relevant fabrication techniques; and develop test protocols that enable high confidence in long-duration field performance of perovskite-based photovoltaic technologies. DOE will fund projects in three topic areas: Device R&D (Efficiency and Stability); manufacturing and R&D; and validation and Bankability.

    This topic area seeks to establish a neutral, independent validation center that can be used to verify perovskite device performance and address acceptance and bankability challenges. Independence and neutrality are required to ensure there are no conflicts of interest between this effort and other projects seeking to demonstrate high-performance devices. This center will be responsible for developing and refining test protocols, including accelerated life testing that closely correlates with long-term field performance. The center will also be responsible for operating an extensive field testing effort using devices produced by the R&D community to iteratively refine all test protocols and improve community understanding of remaining stability and performance issues. The center will investigate the environmental impact of perovskite technologies and serve as an objective source of information and analysis for the investment and finance communities. Teams must be led by a DOE Federally Funded Research and Development Center/National Laboratory. (Source: US DOE, EERE Solar Energy Technology Office, PR, 13 Aug., 2020) Contact: EERE Solar Energy Technology Office,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,  Solar,  

    Enphase, WU Collaborate on Renewables Grid (Ind. Report)
    Enphase Energy
    Date: 2020-05-27
    Fremont, California-headquartered global energy technology and solar microinverters specialist Enphase Energy, Inc. reports it is using its Enphase Ensemble™ technology to support a University of Washington (WU) initiative to develop control systems for unrestricted penetration of photovoltaic (PV) solar on the grid.

    In addition to roughly $1 million in US DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), grant funding , Enphase will provide test platforms and invest approximately $420,000 over the project's three-year timeline.

    Enphase will run specialized test scenarios and gather data at the Company's single- and three-phase, on- and off-grid rooftop solar R&D facility in Austin, Texas. The test array is equipped with Enphase microinverters featuring the Company's custom ASIC, which powers the software-defined architecture that allows Enphase to reprogram a test fleet of microinverters with control architectures and algorithms developed by the University of Washington. The control architectures and algorithms will be tested to validate controller performance under real-world weather variability.

    The Enphase Encharge storage system features embedded grid-forming Enphase microinverters that enable always-on functionality and will be compatible with both new and existing Enphase IQ solar systems with IQ 6™ or IQ 7™ microinverters, providing a simple upgrade path for existing Enphase solar customers. (Source: Enphase Energy Inc., PR, 26 May, 2020) Contact: Christian Zdebel, 484-788-2384,,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Enphase,  Renewable Energy,  Renewables Grid.Rooftop Solar,  

    WMU Scores $9.6Mn for Li-Ion Battery RED (R&D, Funding)
    Western Michigan University
    Date: 2020-02-12
    In Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University (WMU) is reporting receipt of $9.6 million in US DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy grant funding for a new sustainable lithium-ion battery R&D project entitled "Enabling Advanced Electrode Architecture through Printing Technique."

    The project focuses on developing cost-effective manufacturing process for better lithium-ion batteries for various applications. The project is being led by assistant professor Dr. Qingliu Wu of WMU's Department of Chemical and Paper Engineering. (Source: Western Michigan University, WKZ, 10 Feb., 2020) Contact: Western Michigan University, Dept. of Paper and Chemical Engineering, (269) 276-3500

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Battery,  Energy Storage,  

    DOE Announces $40Mn to Advance H2@Scale Projects (Funding)
    US DOE
    Date: 2019-08-16
    Reporting from Washington, the the U.S. DOE has announced approximately $40 million in FY 2019 funding for 29 projects to advance the H2@Scale concept to enable affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation, transport, storage and utilization. Funding will be through the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and a contribution from DOE Office of Nuclear Energy.

    The U.S. produces over 10 million tonnes of hydrogen, nearly one-seventh of the global supply, primarily for oil refining and fertilizer production. Hydrogen infrastructure includes over 1,600 miles of hydrogen pipeline, a growing network of stations, and thousands of tons of storage in underground caverns. The hydrogen can be stored, distributed, and/or used as a fuel for transportation, stationary power, process or building heat, and industrial and manufacturing sectors.(Source: US DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office , PR, 15 Aug., 2019) Contact: US DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Hydrogen,  

    DOE SBIR Touts Sm. Business Innovation Research Funding (Funding)
    Date: 2019-07-31
    American small businesses received a near-$44 million boost from the U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, according to an SBIR release. Five buildings-focused, Phase II Release 2 grants awarded approximately $5 million to five small businesses. The projects, which are making advancements in building envelopes, building energy efficiency and modeling, and lighting, have already demonstrated a level of commercial feasibility for further innovations in the second phase of research. The five projects:
  • Innovations in Opaque Building Envelope Performance -- Lightweight and Thermally Insulating Nanowood -- (Inventwood LLC., College Park, Maryland) Inventwood LLC is using delignified wood to create a new, bio-derived cellulose thermal insulation material that could be used in window frames, exterior insulating cladding, or prefabricated panels for new building construction or retrofit applications.

  • Transparent Conductive Anodes for Solid-State Lighting -- Printed Anodes and Internal Light Extraction Layers on Flexible Glass to Create Cost-Effective High-Efficacy Bendable OLED Lighting Panels -- (OLEDWorks LLC, Rochester, New York) OLEDWorks LLC will further develop and commercialize a highly energy-efficient lighting product in the form of uniquely thin and beautiful curved sheets of light to accelerate organic light-emitting diode (OLED) market growth.

  • High Performance Substrate Embedded Microgrids for High-Efficiency, Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diodes -- (Electroninks Inc, Austin, Texas) -- Electroninks Inc. is developing an alternative, transparent conductor for optical-electronic applications like touch sensors, displays, and OLEDs that significantly outperforms today's indium, tin, and oxygen (ITO) conductors.

  • Building Energy Modeling -- Portfolio-Level Energy-Efficiency Simulation (PLES) -- (Maalka, Brooklyn, New York) Maalka is extending its customizable framework for energy efficiency program development and management. The framework leverages the increasing availability of building energy data and DOE's open-source data standards and platforms and energy analysis tools (EnergyPlus, OpenStudio). The project targets the large and growing energy-efficiency program market of cities, utilities, larger owners, and energy service customers with a focus on supporting a move from individual energy conservation measures to packages and deep retrofits.

  • CAD-Integrated Web-Based Performance Simulation -- (Ladybug Tools LLC, Fairfax, Virginia) -- Ladybug Tools will use DOE's open-source EnergyPlus and Radiance tools, as well as OpenStudio's new elastic cloud capabilities, to deliver a greater range of analysis services (and subsequent revenue streams) for architects. Phase I of this project involved creating a working radiance-based daylighting simulation service; Phase II work will focus on energy simulation. (Source: U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Small Business Innovation Research, PR, July, 2019) Contact: SBIR,,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News DOE SBIR,  Energy Efficiency,  Energy Management,  

  • DOE Awards $2Mn for Performance Computing Energy Efficiency (Funding)
    Date: 2019-07-29
    In Washington, the U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) reports it has awarded $2 million in funding for seven new high performance computing projects, as part of the High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) Initiative.

    The initiative is a DOE-wide effort comprising EERE, the Office of Fossil Energy (FE), the Office of Science, and the National Laboratories. The initiative helps to leverage the National Laboratories' high performance computing capabilities to address challenges in manufacturing and materials through state-of-the-art modeling, simulation, and data analysis. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) leads the HPC4EI program along with partner laboratories Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Sandia National Laboratories, as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory. Funded projects include:

  • NYC-based Ferric, Inc. will partner with LLNL to develop analytical tools that will combine traditional electromagnetic finite-element analysis with micromagnetic simulation.

  • Applied Materials in Sunnyvale, Calif. will continue to work with LLNL on Phase II of developing predictive modeling capabilities for the advanced film deposition technique, High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering.

  • Gas Technology Institute in Des Plaines, Ill., Gopher Resource, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will partner to use high performance computing to increase the productivity of secondary lead furnaces.

  • Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical will collaborate with Argonne National Laboratory on developing open-source software-based models of a gas atomizer based on ongoing work being performed at Eastman.

  • Praxair Surface Technologies Inc. in Indianapolis will work with Ames National Laboratory to enhance the efficiency of metal powder production for additive manufacturing applications.

    Within the High Performance Computing for Materials (HPC4Mtls) Program, EERE's Vehicle Technologies Office has selected two projects:

  • PPG Industries will collaborate with LLNL and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to apply classical molecular dynamics simulations and density functional tight-binding calculations.

  • AK Steel in Middletown, Ohio will collaborate with ORNL on thermo-mechanical forming process development to produce tailored strength automotive structural components. The Office of Fossil Energy selected two additional HPC4Mtls projects to support. Industry partners provide at least 20 pct of the funding for new projects. (Source:DOE EERE, PR, EIN,July, 2019) Contact: US DOE,

    More Low-Carbon Energy News DOE EERE,  Energy Efficiency,  

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