Sharp earns federal funding

$2.9 million grant will fund sodium-ion battery development

$2.9 million grant will fund sodium-ion battery development

A Camas company’s research project is set to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced last week that a project by Sharp Laboratories was one of 66 selected by the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy to receive a total of $130 million in funding through its “OPEN 2012” program.

ARPA-E seeks out transformational, breakthrough technologies that show fundamental technical promise but are too early for private-sector investment.

According to a press release, these projects have the potential to produce game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and have large commercial impacts.

The selected projects encompass 11 technology areas in 24 states, and support the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to solving the nation’s most pressing energy challenges.

“With ARPA-E and all of the Department of Energy’s research and development efforts, we are determined to attract the best and brightest minds at our country’s top universities, labs and businesses to help solve the energy challenges of this generation,” said Chu. “The 66 projects selected today represent the true mission of ARPA-E: swinging for the fences and trying to hit home runs to support development of the most innovative technologies and change what’s possible for America’s energy future.”

Sharp Laboratories of America, based in Camas, will use its $2.9 million to develop a sodium-ion based battery that will increase battery cycle life at a low cost, while maintaining a high-energy capacity.

“If successful, this battery would surpass the DOE 2015 cost targets for stationary energy storage and facilitate the adoption and deployment of renewable energy technology,” the project description states.

The OPEN 2012 projects were selected through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of full applications.

The projects are based in 24 states, with approximately 47 percent of the projects led by universities, 29 percent by small businesses, 15 percent by large businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs, and 1.5 percent by non-profits.

ARPA-E’s first funding opportunity, “OPEN 2009,” was issued three years ago and was similarly an open call to America’s top scientists and engineers for transformational energy technology solutions.

ARPA-E’s previously selected projects have already made major progress, by demonstrating the world’s first 400 Wh/kg lithium-ion battery poised to revolutionize the electric vehicle industry; building a wind turbine, inspired by the design of jet engines, that could deliver 300 percent more power than existing turbines of the same size and cost; and engineering a high power laser drilling system that can penetrate hard rock formations over long distances and is ten times more economical than conventional drilling technologies.