For Immediate Release: May 8, 2013
Media Contact: Kelly M. Kell - 916-654-4989

MEDIA ADVISORY

Energy Commission Awards $14.5 Million for Energy Research
$1.6 Million Will Support Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Research


SACRAMENTO –The California Energy Commission today awarded $14.5 million to spur 34 research awards on projects ranging from natural gas pipeline sensors to plug-in electric vehicle battery recycling and energy efficiency programs for local communities. Funds for the projects come from the Commission's research and development program.

"Investing in research and demonstration projects that improve our state's energy infrastructure continues to be a hallmark of California's leadership," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. "Innovative technologies, such as sensors that can detect defects in natural gas pipelines, underscore the importance of energy research in providing safe and reliable energy for all Californians."

Commissioners approved a $1 million award for San Diego-based Diakont Advanced Technologies, Inc. to demonstrate and commercialize a sensor that will enable pipeline operators to accurately detect, locate, and measure defects in pipeline welds to ensure safe and reliable natural gas service.

The sensor will undergo testing and demonstration in Diakont's San Diego headquarters, followed by utility scale demonstration in Pacific Gas and Electric Company's service territory. The agreement will include $1.6 million in match funding from the recipient.

The Commission also awarded $622,622 to Acellent Technologies, Inc., of Sunnyvale (Santa Clara County) to develop and demonstrate a natural gas pipeline monitoring system called the Real-time Active Pipeline Integrity Detection (RAPID) System. The system will continuously monitor and evaluate the safety and reliability of natural gas pipelines. Acellent will test and demonstrate the system at its headquarters in Sunnyvale, followed by utility scale testing on a pipeline in Pacific Gas and Electric Company's service territory.

In total, 34 projects, including 13 Energy Innovation Small Grants (EISG), were approved at today's meeting totaling $14,556,309. The other projects approved were:

Electricity

  • Redwood Coast Energy Authority located in Eureka (Humboldt County) will receive $1,750,000 to demonstrate a state-of-the-art woody biomass energy system coupled with fuel cell technology in a combined heat and power application. The system will provide electricity and heat, such as in the form of hot water, to the Blue Lake Rancheria Hotel and Casino in Humboldt County. An innovative energy efficiency program for the local community will also be developed and demonstrated. The project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy use, and provide local energy reliability. This project includes $1,793,762 in match funding from the recipient and its major subcontractors Schatz Energy Research Center and Blue Lake Rancheria.
  • Cool Earth Solar, Inc., of Livermore (Alameda County) will receive $1,726,438 to demonstrate an innovative, clean energy system that includes cutting-edge concentrating solar photovoltaic (PV), a high-resolution solar forecast model, and a building energy management system. The clean energy system will be used to increase energy efficiency and security in the Livermore Valley Open Campus Community. The project will include $1,025,822 in match funding from the recipient.
  • Farasis Energy, Inc., located in Hayward (Alameda County) will receive $749,710 to develop and demonstrate a recycling technology, known as Direct Recycling, for large lithium-ion batteries found in plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). Establishing a disposal system for spent lithium-ion batteries can reduce the purchase and ownerships costs of PEVs, as well as provide a possible solution to the increase of hazardous battery materials that must be processed by landfills as the PEV market grows in California. The project will include $149,943 in match funding from the recipient.
  • Cogenra Solar, Inc., of Mountain View (Santa Clara County) will receive $525,000 to develop an advanced co-generation solar power system. The system will generate electricity using photovoltaic and thermal conversion technologies such as Organic Rankine Cycle engines. The combined heat and power configuration can simultaneously deliver hot water or cooling services to buildings.
  • Sun Synchrony of Alameda (Alameda County) will receive $475,095 to develop a new rooftop deployable solar PV system that uses light concentrating cells to provide more efficient power generation. The agreement will include $325,692 in match funding from the recipient.
  • U.S. Geological Survey will receive $314,000 to develop a standardized protocol for surveying the golden eagle population and to evaluate the relationship between golden eagle nesting success and prey abundance within the Desert Renewable Conservation Plan area. This information will be used to inform energy developers and assist in the permitting of renewable energy projects.
  • Sierra Institute for Community and Environment of Taylorsville (Plumas County) will receive $300,000 to develop a renewable energy and energy efficiency action plan. The plan will center on integrating woody biomass and other renewable energy sources into Plumas County's existing energy infrastructure to help reduce fossil fuel usage. The agreement will include $75,000 in match funding from the recipient.
  • City of Davis will receive $300,000 to develop a preliminary, long-term renewable energy deployment roadmap for the city of Davis. The roadmap will be developed using state-of-the-art analytical tools and methods to identify the most cost-effective options of meeting community energy needs with locally generated renewable power. The agreement will include $75,000 in match funding from the recipient.
  • City and County of San FranciscoDepartment of the Environment will receive $300,000 to create a roadmap for integrating existing energy systems, renewable energy, and new energy technologies into a district energy system that will serve San Francisco's Central Corridor Eco-District The project aims to meet energy needs with local sources, resulting in increased energy security and reliability for the community. Match funding will be provided by the recipient and its subcontractor ARUP in the amount of $300,000.
  • U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will receive $250,290 to develop a large-scale recycling infrastructure to dispose of Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) batteries. The project will develop scenarios to estimate potential consumer adoption of PEVs in California and the resulting battery disposal rate. Establishing a recycling system for spent PEV batteries can reduce the purchase and ownerships costs of PEVs, leading to increased consumer adoption of these vehicles and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement will include $51,000 in match funding from Umicore.
  • South Tahoe Public Utility District will receive $139,830 to develop methods for rural communities to evaluate the use of water and wastewater facilities across multiple communities to cost-effectively generate and store localized renewable energy. The project enjoys broad community support with $72,352 in match funding provided by several local jurisdictions.

Natural Gas

  • Gas Technology Institute of Des Plaines, Ill. will receive a $1 million grant to develop a low emission, high performance natural gas engine suitable for light-and medium-duty trucks. The project aims to address the shortage of natural gas products available to the California commercial vehicle market and to optimize the performance and fuel economy of natural gas engines. The agreement will include $2,164,735 in match funding from Cummins Westport, Inc., a key member of the project team.
  • CleanWorld of Gold River (Sacramento County) will receive $820,000 to fund the design, construction, and operation of a novel system to produce value-added fertilizer products from the effluent of anaerobic digesters that produce renewable natural gas. CleanWorld will demonstrate this system at their West Sacramento facility. The agreement will include $690,830 in match funding from the recipient.
  • Interra Energy, Inc., located in San Diego will receive $818,147 to develop a low-cost biomass conversion technology that will convert green waste into renewable natural gas. The conversion process will also produce biochar, a soil amendment that can be used for agricultural purposes. The agreement will include $228,146 in match funding from the recipient.
  • University of California, Berkeley , will receive $600,000 to develop an advanced natural gas engine to improve natural gas engine fuel economy. The agreement will include $125,600 in match funding from Tula Technology, Inc.
  • U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will receive $575,423 to study the potential for carbon sequestration in the southern San Joaquin Valley to induce or trigger seismic activity. Carbon sequestration, the capture and storage of carbon dioxide in underground geological formations, could become one of the main methods used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. The study aims to gain a better understanding of the potential for induced seismic events and how to minimize or avoid risks.
  • University of California, Riverside, will receive $400,963 to evaluate the impacts of various natural gas compositions on the performance, and emissions of natural gas powered medium-and heavy-duty vehicles. The project aims to ensure that new and existing natural gas engines can operate efficiently without impacting air pollutant levels when using broader and more diverse sources of natural gas.
  • University of California, Riverside, will receive $359,847 to develop cost effective methods of separating and capturing carbon dioxide created in the production of renewable natural gas. This carbon dioxide will be used to produce value added co-products: the commercially valuable chemicals methanol, dimethyl ether, and potassium carbonate. The project aims to improve the efficiency of renewable natural gas production and increase commercial viability through revenue generated from the co-products.
  • U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory will receive $313,000 to develop a natural gas vehicle research roadmap. The road map will identify the current state of knowledge, research gaps and recommend pathways to help remove barriers in deploying advanced natural gas vehicle technology and fueling infrastructure.

EISG

  • Peaker Conversions of Fullerton (Orange County) will receive $83,383 to determine the feasibility of using ultra capacitors on board hybrid railroad locomotives, instead of batteries, to reduce the costs of energy storage systems.
  • Motiv Power Systems, Inc., of Foster City (San Mateo County) will receive $95,000 to study a power inverter that decreases the fuel usage and carbon emissions of medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
  • Energy Conversions, Inc. , located in Tacoma, Wash. will receive $91,070 to determine the feasibility of converting railroad locomotive engines to run on natural gas. More than 80 percent of the project funds will be spent in California through subcontractor work with Williams Machine, Inc., in Lake Elsinore (Riverside County) and Napa.
  • Santa Clara University will receive $94,982 to study the development of a residential solar combined heat and power system that uses solar energy to produce electricity. The system will also capture waste heat to power natural gas applications.
  • University of California, San Diego , will receive $95,000 to explore the development of inexpensive thermoelectric materials capable of converting waste heat into energy.
  • GroundMetrics, Inc., located in San Diego, will receive $94,599 to explore a new electromagnetic mapping method to identify geothermal resources.
  • Schatz Energy Research Center of Arcata (Humboldt County) will receive $95,000 to determine the feasibility of operating a commercial biomass system that converts plant materials such as leaves and wood into high-density, high-energy bio-coal products, reducing the cost of transporting biomass.
  • University of California, Berkeley, will receive $94,766 to study a low-cost light commissioning system capable of quickly verifying performance and adjusting lighting conditions in buildings.
  • Bandgap Engineering of Palo Alto (Santa Clara County) will receive $95,000 to determine the feasibility of combining silicon nanowires with low-cost silicon materials to produce high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells.
  • Engsys Research, Inc., of San Diego will receive $95,000 to determine the feasibility of reducing the energy used by fans in laboratories (or other enclosed spaces where airborne contaminants must be strictly controlled) by installing an adaptive controller that can dynamically adjust airflow.
  • Visible Energy, Inc., located in Palo Alto (Santa Clara County) will receive $95,000 to develop a cloud-based refrigeration control system that will ensure the proper functioning of refrigerating appliances and will minimize energy usage.
  • University of California, San Diego, will receive $92,144 to determine the feasibility of using wireless sensors to monitor real-time temperatures within appliances with controllable thermostats such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and electric water heaters to reduce building energy consumption.
  • University of California, Davis, will receive $95,000 to study the use of rare earth nanoparticles as an absorption material to improve the efficiency of solar systems.

Funding for the projects come from the Energy Commission's research and development program. The program supports public interest research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace. For more information, visit: www.energy.ca.gov/research/.

The Energy Innovations Small Grant Program provides funding to small businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals, and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. The program provides up to $95,000 for hardware projects, and up to $50,000 for modeling concepts. For more information, visit: www.energy.ca.gov/research/innovations/

Funds will be paid to the grantees after invoices are reviewed and approved.



# # #

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.

Sign up for California Energy Commission news releases at http://www.energy.ca.gov/releases/.