Aquanis was recently awarded $3.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding will be used to develop a segmented active load control system that will allow wind turbines to react more quickly to changes in the wind.
The system features the company’s electrical blade-mounted actuators that modify the local flow over the surface of the blades without using mechanical components (no moving parts).
“Aquanis is committed to helping the wind industry continue the historic improvement in turbine technology, which is key to reducing the cost of wind energy and increasing wind penetration in the grid energy market,” said Aquanis Founder and CEO Neal Fine. “Our selection by ARPA-E confirms that we are working with a great team on an important and challenging problem.”
The cost of wind energy can be reduced by deploying larger, more efficient, and more durable wind turbines. To build such wind turbines, designers must find a way to mitigate unsteady loads on the turbine blades, caused by wind gusts, turbulence and other changes in wind speed. All of the remedies tried to date have moving parts, and are costly and complex to implement. Aquanis is developing a new technology that can address the problem with no moving parts and minimal blade modifications.
In this ARPA-E funded project, Aquanis will lead a world-class team of researchers that includes the University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX), Sandia National Laboratory (Albuquerque, NM), and the largest independent blade manufacturer, TPI Composites, Inc. (Warren, RI).
In addition to introducing new innovations to advance the company’s actuator technology, the team will develop an integrated design approach to maximize the impact of segmented active load control on the cost of energy. Aquanis received the award from the ARPA-E 2018 Open program. This is the fourth Open funding opportunity announcement (FOA) issued by ARPA-E. The Open FOA is designed to ensure that the agency does not miss opportunities to support innovative energy R&D that falls outside the topics of their focused technology programs.
“The proliferation of wind power has been a bright spot on the energy landscape, but we have a long way to go,” said Thorne Sparkman, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund, which provided seed funding to Aquanis. “Slater is proud to be supporting Aquanis in its quest to enable the next generation of turbine designs.