The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory will be joining forces with three small businesses to advance innovative, clean transportation technologies as part of a larger program to help emerging firms access the resources of national laboratories.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued 33 vouchers with a total value of $6.7 million in the first round of the Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot, which matches small businesses with national laboratories to provide technical assistance to help bring next-generation clean energy technologies to market. Applications are currently being accepted for the second round, with a third round to follow.
The three companies selected by DOE to work with Argonne — Transient Plasma Systems (TPS), Connected Signals and Big Delta Systems (BDS) — each received vouchers to pursue vehicle-related research ranging from a new type of engine ignition system to new battery materials to innovative ways to empower motorists to drive more efficiently.
“It’s exciting to provide these small companies with access to the resources of a place like Argonne.”
TPS, based in Torrance, Calif., developed a new type of ignition system that uses nanosecond pulsed power to improve engine combustion. The system allows engines to run leaner or tolerate higher levels of recirculated exhaust gas, thereby increasing efficiency. Argonne will use X-ray diagnostics from its Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to measure the energy delivery of the fuel-air mixture, as well as endoscopic imaging of engines fitted with the TPS system to better understand improvements delivered by the new technology.
“It’s exciting to provide these small companies with access to the resources of a place like Argonne,” said Thomas Wallner, Argonne’s manager for Fuels, Engine and Aftertreatment Research. “Companies like TPS are doing very exciting work and have a chance to make a real difference through their technological innovation.”
BDS is a start-up based in Houston developing advanced electrode designs and manufacturing processes for lithium-ion batteries. BDS will provide finished electrodes to Argonne, which will be transformed into lithium-ion pouch cells in Argonne’s Cell Analysis, Modeling and Prototyping (CAMP) Facility. Advanced design electrodes are expected to enable energy-dense electrode coatings without a loss in power density.
“Big Delta Systems has expertise in electrode design and coating, but they benefit from Argonne’s specialized facilities to make the prototype cells to demonstrate the enhanced electrochemical performance for real-world applications,” said Andrew Jansen, leader of Argonne’s CAMP Facility.
By making cells using advanced electrodes in Argonne’s CAMP Facility, BDS can quantify the expected performance and cost reduction in lithium-ion batteries. Argonne is also assisting BDS in cell design and cost analysis through techno-economic modeling.
Connected Signals, based in Eugene, Ore., will work with Argonne to analyze its smart phone app, which gives drivers information on traffic signals. The research will investigate whether providing this type of predictive traffic information will enable motorists to drive in a way that both increases efficiency and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases. For example, if a driver is informed in advance that they cannot make it through an intersection in time for a green light, will that driver slow down gently, rather than braking aggressively at the last moment when the light changes?
“Argonne is delighted to partner with Connected Signals to quantify the fuel displacement potential of traffic signal information,” said Aymeric Rousseau, manager of the Systems Modeling and Control Group, who will lead the research. “Providing accurate information to drivers so they can make informed decisions can play a significant part in reducing fuel consumption.”
Each small business that is selected for DOE’s SBV pilot is required to provide a 20 percent cost share; the negotiated scope of work will have a planned performance period of no more than 12 months. Small businesses with fewer than 500 full-time-equivalent employees that are incorporated as for-profits and based in the United States are eligible.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.