By Gregory Pings, manager of Content Marketing at Xerox

Dr. Sophie Vandebroek

Dr. Sophie Vandebroek, Chief Technology Officer, Xerox

How do laboratories invent transformational energy technologies? More to the point, how do we get those inventions out of the lab and into the market? The answers to these questions fall under the aegis of ARPA-E , the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, this agency advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.

In short, ARPA-E funds the research that creates these transformational technologies and helps them find a place in U.S. and international markets.

PARC, a Xerox company, has developed a number of technologies for ARPA-E through their Democratization of Energy program. Our chief technology officer, Dr. Sophie Vandebroek, picked up on a few of them when she spoke at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit last week.

The PARC Vision: “The more we democratize energy the faster we will achieve progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and towards a higher quality of life.”

What does democratization of energy mean? It means empowering each individual to take control over their entire energy footprint. Many technology innovations are required to achieve this vision and the Internet of Everything is enabling the vision.

As proof points, Xerox chief technology officer Dr. Vandebroek pointed to these three Internet of Everything innovations from our labs which are key to enabling the democratization of energy vision:

  • Smart devices such as printed nano-carbon sensors that can locate methane emissions associated with natural gas production before they become a major problem. (PARC)
  • Smart infrastructure such as optical sensing technologies that peer inside operational car and airplane batteries and can detect potential faults before they become catastrophic. (PARC)
  • Smart real-time insights that extends our recently launched urban mobility app. Now, citizens can find greener commuting options, which helps city officials lower their city’s carbon footprint. (Xerox Research Centre Europe)

Earlier this year at the Plenary Session for the 2016 International Solid‑State Circuits Conference, Dr. Vandebroek described how these Three Pillars of the Internet of Everything will disrupt entire industries.

8 Energy Technologies from PARC, Inc.

PARC, Inc. collaborates with more than 35 partners from government agencies, start-ups, universities and large commercial energy companies. Their researchers’ insights and technology play key roles in bringing radical transformation and energy optimization into high-growth fields, such as the Internet of Everything, smart homes and cities, digital manufacturing and connected vehicles.

PARC displayed eight energy technologies at the ARPA-E Innovation Summit in Washington D.C. two weeks ago.

Fuel Cell: An intermediate-temperature fuel cell that can use a wide variety of carbon-based input fuels. An electrolyte membrane based on ionic liquids transports oxygen, allowing it to react directly with almost any fuel.

Aluminum Alloy Detection: A low-cost sensing technique that identifies metal alloys, which can allow aluminum to be recycled cost-effectively.

Self-Cooling Metamaterials: PARC will develop and demonstrate a massively scalable and low-cost metamaterial film that can “self-cool” in broad daylight, without the need for electricity or water.

Printed Methane Sensor: Low-cost printed arrays that use a variety of modified carbon nanotube sensors that can quantify and locate methane leaks. Methane, a major component of natural gas, is a significant greenhouse gas, with many times the heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide.

Improved Battery Performance: A partnership between PARC and LG Chem Power is developing SENSOR, a next-generation fiber-optic sensing battery management system. SENSOR can directly sense battery’s cell state internally, and safely extract more power and capacity than is currently possible with electrical sensors. General Motors is testing SENSOR in larger-scale electric vehicle battery modules.

Microchiplet Printer: PARC will design and build a prototype micro-PV cell (or microchiplet) printer. This has the potential to manufacture high volumes of micro-PV cell arrays economically.

Printing of Thermoelectrics: PARC will demonstrate the fabrication of Large-Area Thermoelectric Generators (LATEGs) through a scalable printing process that is about 10 times cheaper than existing manufacturing methods.

Urban Transportation Optimization: PARC will develop a mobile system to identify energy-efficient routes most likely to be adopted by a traveler. This system will use data from navigation tools, public transit, and intelligent transportation systems in order to simulate the Los Angeles transportation network and energy use.