Energy Department Awards Washington Company, PNNL, $5.5 Million in Clean-Energy Research Grants

New ARPA-E projects fund research, development of potentially game changing clean-energy technologies for air conditioning, refrigeration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that a Washington state corporation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been awarded federal research grants totaling $5.5 million for developing revolutionary new ways to provide air conditioning and refrigeration.  The grants are part of $92 million in awards for projects in 18 states chosen by the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which funds high risk, high payoff clean energy technology projects using stimulus funding secured in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Senator Cantwell helped author the ARPA-E program and fought to ensure clean-energy projects were a key part of the larger economic stimulus program. 
I believe that one of the most promising avenues for creating jobs and jump-starting our economy is in the clean energy sector,” said Senator Cantwell. “These cutting-edge research projects represent the type of innovation Washington state entrepreneurs are using to find new ways to generate cleaner and more efficient energy sources.”
“Washington state is already at the forefront of the clean-energy industry, and this investment will help our researchers continue to innovate and grow,” said Senator Patty Murray. “We know that private investment and job creation happens where cutting-edge research is taking place, and I am committed to making sure that Washington state continues to lead the way in this 21st century industry.”
The Department of Energy grant awards go to two programs in Washington state focused on more efficient cooling technology:
  • A $3 million grant to Infinia Corporation of Kennewick for a project that will develop and demonstrate a prototype Stirling Air Conditioner that combines a Stirling cycle with innovative heat transfer coupling to produce improvements in compact cooling. It will use no greenhouse gases, can achieve high efficiency, and can be cost effectively mass-produced.
  • A $2.5 million grant to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of Richland to work with companies Power Partners Inc., of Athens, Georgia, and Arkema, of Philadelphia, over the next three years to design, assemble, and test an adsorption chiller that takes advantage of PNNL’s metal-organic heat carrier technology and new types of refrigerants to achieve high efficiency in commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. The adsorption chiller is a type of air conditioner that is powered by waste heat, has few moving parts, and uses almost no electricity to operate. PNNL is also a partner in two other grants awarded by DOE today: one to the University of Maryland and GE Global Research, and the other to ADMA and Texas A&M University. For more information on the grants awarded today, click here.
In announcing the grants, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “These innovative ideas will play a critical role in our energy security and economic growth. It is now more important than ever to invest in a new, clean energy economy.”
The projects announced today are based in 18 states, with 36 percent of projects led by universities, 33 percent by small businesses, 24 percent by large businesses, 5 percent by national labs, and 2 percent by non-profits. These awards complete ARPA-E’s grants under its Recovery Act funding: in three rounds of awards since last year, the agency has selected a total of 116 projects for $349 million in funding, supporting research that can deliver breakthrough changes in how the U.S. generates, stores, and utilizes energy.
Senator Cantwell helped author the legislation creating the ARPA-E program, which is modeled after Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an organization that hired the best program managers from industry and acted quickly in initiating high risk, high payoff projects.  DARPA pioneered the use of technology competitions as a means to quickly accelerate innovation and the model has led to technological breakthroughs such as the Internet, stealth, robotics and the U.S. semiconductors industry’s SEMATECH.  ARPA-E was authorized in August 2007 as part of the America COMPETES Act, but only received its initial funding of $400 million in fiscal year 2010.  Cantwell also has championed clean energy grants for Washington in the ARRA program. For more information on some of these clean-energy grant awards, see the following press releases:
·         June 19, 2010: Cantwell: Energy Efficient Construction Critical to Job Creation, Reducing Fossil Fuel Use
·         June 11, 2010: Cantwell, Murray Applaud $7 Million in Funding for WA Energy Efficiency Projects
·         April 21, 2010: Cantwell Announces $20 Million for Energy Efficient Building Upgrades in Seattle