Two Cyclotron Road Projects Awarded ARPA-E Funding

November 30, 2015

Two Cyclotron Road projects—one on thermionic energy conversion in collaboration with the Materials Sciences Division and one on green buildings in collaboration with two divisions in the Energy Technologies Area—were among 41 “transformational energy technology projects” awarded a total of $125 million by ARPA-E.

Dan Riley and Jared Schwede are Cyclotron Road project leads developing a thermionic energy converter, which can efficiently convert heat to electricity for combined heat and power for residential use, as well as distributed solar thermal power and heat scavenging. If successful, this new class of thermionic converters could dramatically increase power conversion efficiency in the U.S. by acting as a topping cycle in series with conventional heat engines, or as a stand-alone converter for a wide range of applications, from combined heat-and-power to scavenging waste heat in automotive and industrial applications. Riley and Schwede will be collaborating with MSD scientist Andreas Schmid to study electron reflection in thermionic devices. The project is led by Stanford University, and also includes U.C. Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania along with Berkeley Lab. It was awarded $3.636 million from ARPA-E.

Raymond Weitekamp is a Cyclotron Road project lead working with Steve Selkowitz of the Building Technology and Urban Systems Division and Arman Shehabi of the Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts to develop an infrared-reflective coating to retrofit inefficient windows in commercial and residential buildings. The coating can self-assemble into a photonic crystal that will reflect near-infrared wavelengths but pass visible light, thus reducing solar heat gain for most windows. Applied as a simple, low-cost paint, this spectrally selective polymeric coating would present a disruptive solution for increasing building energy efficiency through thermal transport mitigation in windows. The project, which is led by the University of Colorado, Boulder in collaboration with Berkeley Lab, Caltech, and Materia Inc., was awarded $3.955 million.