SiEnergy Systems wins ARPA-E funding to develop distributed generation tech

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) selected SiEnergy Systems for $2.65 million in funding. SiEnergy specializes in low temperature thin film solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.

SiEnergy’s technology is one of 13 projects funded by ARPA-E through the REBELS program.

SiEnergy is seeking to develop a thin film SOFC for the mobile and small power generation markets in order to reduce fuel cell cost, and allow fast start-up and load following capability by responding rapidly to changes in power demand.

SiEnergy Systems is a unit of Boston-based Allied Minds, a technology innovation company that funds, manages and builds companies based on market-creating technologies developed at renowned U.S. universities and federal research institutions.

SiEnergy’s technology uses silicon-based technology and nanometer scale electrolytes to create SOFCs that operate at a commercially desirable temperature and are scalable to meet various power requirements. Thin film SOFC is a promising technology that provides solutions to cost and reliability challenges of fuel cells today.

Fuel cells — or devices that directly convert the chemical energy of a fuel source into electric power — are considered optimal for distributed power generation systems, which generate power close to where it is used. Distributed generation systems offer an alternative to the large, centralized power generation facilities or power plants that are currently commonplace.

While centralized power generation systems have an excellent economy of scale, they often require long transmission distances between supply and distribution points, leading to efficiency losses throughout the grid. Additionally, it is difficult for centralized power systems to balance power generation with the grid demand in the presence of intermittent renewable power sources. Fuel cells provide efficient power generation capability as well as improve grid stability through local balancing of the power supply and demand.

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