Department of Energy grants will power clean energy research at NC State
Faculty members in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University will receive funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to create a new electric microgrid coordination and control design and to develop cleaner, cheaper processes for industrial production of benzenes.
The DOE announced $175 million for 68 research and development projects aimed at creating disruptive technologies to strengthen the nation’s advanced energy enterprise. Led by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the OPEN 2021 program prioritized funding high-impact, high-risk technologies that support novel approaches to clean energy challenges.
The selected projects —spanning 22 states and coordinated at universities, national laboratories and private companies — will advance technologies for a wide range of areas, including electric vehicles, offshore wind, storage and nuclear recycling. These investments support President Biden’s climate goals to increase production of domestic clean energy technology, strengthen the nation’s energy security and uplift the economy by creating good-paying jobs.
- Researchers in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) will develop, implement, and demonstrate a structured microgrid coordination/control co-design flow that yields the selection of the right equipment, integrated control, and a communication software and hardware architecture. The results will be validated in a simulated environment. NC State will also develop, implement, and demonstrate a modular resilient microgrid control integration platform. This hardware device has a robust, cyber-secure software platform and a library of microgrid control algorithms run on low-cost hardware devices that can be automatically customized by the microgrid coordination/control co-design flow. The team’s approach to designing and operating microgrids will enable them to integrate and effectively manage renewable generation on the distribution system, while providing power to critical loads during and after extreme weather events, when the rest of the grid may be damaged.
The work is part of the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center. The $4.8 million grant is the second largest in the new round of ARPA-E OPEN funding. Srdjan Lukic, professor in ECE, is principal investigator (PI) on the project. ECE’s Iqbal Husain, Wenyuan Tang and Aranya Chakrabortty are co-PIs. Vanderbilt University and Commonwealth Edison are partners in the research.
- Faculty members in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) will develop transformative, autothermal Redox-Dehydrogenation (RDH) technology to flexibly produce a variety of alkenyl benzenes in modular packed beds with integrated air separation and greatly simplified product separation. Alkenyl benzenes such as styrene and divinylbenzene are important building blocks for rubber, plastics and resin production. Current industrial production of these chemicals is generally based on energy intensive, catalytic dehydrogenation processes. This project aims to demonstrate the feasibility and attractiveness of the RDH technology and its ability to reduce energy consumption, operating costs, energy and carbon dioxide emissions for styrene and other alkenyl benzenes.
Fanxing Li, Alcoa Professor in CBE, is PI on the project; Luke Neal, research assistant professor in the department, is co-PI. The team, which includes partners at Louisiana State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Eastman Chemical, will receive $1.8 million in funding.
Among the first of billions of dollars for research and development opportunities that DOE announced last year to address the climate crisis, OPEN 2021 is ARPA-E’s latest installment of the OPEN program. The first four iterations — 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018 — awarded over $600 million in funding to 225 projects working to achieve breakthroughs in commercializing a variety of energy solutions, including in the development of transformative solar, geothermal, batteries, biofuels and advanced surface coating technologies.
This post was originally published in College of Engineering News.