California Energy Commission awards US$1.6M to 13 energy R&D projects, including tidal, solar, fuel cell technologies, grid-scale prototype battery system

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter

Oct 10, 2011 – California Energy Commission

SACRAMENTO, California , October 10, 2011 (press release) – The California Energy Commission has awarded $1,585,490 to spur research on projects including a battery system for grid-scale energy storage. Funds for the 13 projects come from the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

"By funding the Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program, the Commission is making strategic investments in California. The EISG program - under the Public Interest Energy Research division -- is an innovative model leveraging roughly $70 in private funds for every $1 invested," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller.

Commissioners approved $600,000 to Seeo Inc. of Hayward to develop and test a 25-kilowatt hour prototype battery system based on nanostructured polymer electrolytes. The project plans to develop a grid-scale prototype for advanced lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that addresses the safety, cost, lifetime and energy density issues associated with lithium-ion batteries. The project will help validate the performance advantages of the company's technology for use in grid-tied energy storage and community energy storage applications.

The Commission's funding is the cost-share for the company's $6.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The total cost of the project is $12.4 million. Seeo is contributing $5.6 million for the project.

The remaining projects are from PIER's Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program. The program provides money to small businesses, non-profits, individuals and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. These grants are capped at $95,000.

The 12 EISG projects approved were:

- CHA Corporation of McClellan will receive $95,000 for a project to demonstrate microwave-based hydrogen production from biogas for reciprocating engines and fuel cells.
- nLiten Energy Corporation of Mountain View will receive $95,000 to prove the feasibility of growing thin-film three-dimensional solar cells using self-assembled nanowires onto a low-cost substrate. This technology would increase efficiency and lower production costs.
- University of California at San Diego will receive $95,000 to reduce the cost of biomass power generation by removing tar from the producer gas in the gasifier.
- Membrane Technology and Research Inc. of Menlo Park will receive $94,995 to reduce the environmental impacts of the natural gas dehydration process.
- Green Dot Transportation Inc. of Fremont was awarded $94,953 to study the use of a mechanized charging device to automatically connect plug-in electric vehicles to the grid. This will make electric charging safer and easier.
- UC Riverside will receive $94,948 for a project that would reduce the power consumption in a hybrid electric vehicle's air conditioning system and improve air quality in the vehicle. Energy consumption for the vehicle's air conditioning system is expected to drop by 10 to 35 percent.
- Mission Motor Company of San Francisco was awarded $94,000 to develop a lightweight onboard charging device that can meet the high power demands of an electric vehicle. Making the onboard charger smaller in size and weight will help improve the viability of plug-in electric vehicles.
- UC Irvine will receive $91,410 to test a novel monitoring and feedback system to reduce end-use energy consumption in residential buildings in California.
- Hal Slater of San Diego will receive $80,625 to design and build a high-efficiency natural gas hot water heater system that uses the city water supply as a geothermal heat source for residential hot water.
- Mogavero Notestine Associates of Sacramento was awarded $50,000 to study an innovative community design that locates high-density housing around a minimum five-acre farm. The project will develop methods to compare the potential transportation energy impacts between this concept and a traditional development.
- California State University, Northridge was given $49,999 to study the feasibility of using a large-scale system to economically and efficiently generate power from ocean currents near California's coast.
- UC Berkeley was awarded $49,560 to prove the feasibility of using a new predictive technology to increase energy production from wind turbines using numerical models with Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology.

The Public Interest Energy Research 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

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.

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