November 29, 2012

UTC, Yale get $5.3M for energy research

Hartford's United Technologies Corp. and Yale University in New Haven got contracts totaling more than $5.3 million to refine their breakthrough technologies for harvesting energy from alternative sources, authorities say.

The Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) said it awarded a combined $130 million to 66 cutting-edge commercial and academic research projects meant to boost America's energy efficiency as well as break its reliance on foreign oil.

The so-called Open 2012 projects are the latest in the Obama administration's three-year-old effort to spur innovative alternative energy technologies, said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The latest announcement brings ARPA-E's total portfolio to about 285 projects totaling some $770 million in awards.

UTC's East Hartford research center will receive nearly $2.7 million to use additive manufacturing to develop an ultra-high efficiency electric motor for automobiles. Additive manufacturing uses a laser to deposit copper and insulation layer by layer, instead of winding wires, authorities say.

The resulting motors will reduce electricity use and will require less rare earth material. This project will also examine the application of additive manufacturing more widely for energy systems.

Yale will get more than $2.6 million to develop a system to generate electricity using low-temperature waste heat from power plants, industrial facilities, and geothermal wells.

This system will use waste heat and the difference in salt content between two liquid streams to create electricity through membrane processes known as pressure-retarded osmosis or reverse electrodialysis.

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