home › cleantech and energy in the news

SPOTLIGHTS:

Cleantech and Energy in the news

 

 

ARPA-E Announces 13 New Projects at New York Energy Week
Agency's $33 Million "REBELS" Program to Develop Innovative Technologies for Distributed Generation
19 June 2014 | ARPA E

New York, NY – Today at New York Energy Week, ARPA-E Acting Director Dr. Cheryl Martin announced $33 million in funding for 13 new projects aimed at developing transformational fuel cell technologies for low-cost distributed power generation. The projects, which are funded through ARPA-E’s new Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems (REBELS) program, are focused on improving grid stability, balancing intermittent renewable technologies, and reducing CO2 emissions using electrochemical distributed power generation systems.

“These 13 REBELS projects are an excellent example of how ARPA-E is developing innovative technology options to transform and modernize America’s evolving electric grid,” said Acting Director Martin. “Distributed generation technologies like these could fundamentally change the way America generates and stores energy.”

Find information on all 13 projects HERE.

 

New Technology could Identify and Sort Aluminum Scrap
15 June 2014 | Scrap

Did you ever wish there were a fast, easy, and cost-effective way to sort high-grade aluminum from lower grades in mixed scrap? Well so does the U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, D.C.), which gave PARC, a research subsidiary of Xerox Corp. in Palo Alto, Calif., a $1 million grant to develop new technology to identify aluminum types—along with magnesium and titanium—in metal scrap in a high-speed, reliable way that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

The Energy Department devised the grant program because it thinks too much post-consumer scrap aluminum is being exported when it could be used in the United States for manufacturing lighter vehicles that save fuel and reduce carbon emissions, for example. In 2013, 3,480,000 mt of aluminum was recovered in the United States, and 1,872,000 mt was exported, according to estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey (Reston, Va.), the U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington, D.C.), and ISRI. But the problem, as many recyclers know, is that it can be challenging to identify and remove aluminum when it’s mixed with lower grades of scrap. Enter PARC, which was already working on such technology and is eager to apply it to the scrap recycling industry.

 

US Military Funds Mission Impossible "vanishing" tech
The US military is funding a project to develop electronics that can self-destruct like the secret messages in the Mission Impossible TV show.
7 February 2014 | BBC News Technology

Darpa, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has awarded computing giant IBM a $3.5m (£2.1m) contract to work on its Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) project.

It is looking to develop a class of "transient" electronics that can be destroyed by remote control.

The kit could be used in combat zones.

IBM's proposal involves the use of a radio frequency trigger that could shatter a glass coating on a silicon chip and turn it into powder.

"A trigger, such as a fuse or a reactive metal layer will be used to initiate shattering, in at least one location, on the glass substrate," the US government said in its grant award notice.

Darpa wants to develop large distributed networks of sensors that can collect and transmit data for a limited period and then be destroyed instantly to prevent them falling into enemy hands.

VAPR tech could also have applications in medical diagnosis and treatment, Darpa believes, if sensors can be developed that the body can reabsorb.

The Pentagon's research arm also granted $2.1m to Xerox company, Palo Alto Research Center (Parc) - a specialist in bioinformatics and large-area electronics.

 

ARPA-E Awards $130 Million for 66 Transformational Energy Technology Projects
33 Technologies Will Help Secure America’s Energy Future in Advanced Manufacturing & Natural Gas
19 September 2013 | announcement

"Deputy Director Cheryl Martin today announced that 33 breakthrough energy projects will receive approximately $66 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under two new programs that provide options for a more sustainable and secure American future."

Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) - $32 Million

METALS will develop innovative technologies for cost-effective processing, as well as recycling, of Aluminum, Magnesium, and Titanium, which are ideal for creating lighter vehicles that can save fuel and reduce carbon emissions. For example, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) located in Palo Alto, California will develop a new electrochemical diagnostic probe that can identify the composition of light metal scrap for efficient sorting, which could reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions, and costs by enabling recycling of typically discarded light metal scrap.

 

PARC and The Cleantech Open Partner To Accelerate Sustainable Technologies in the United States
Promising cleantech entrepreneurs now have access to PARC’s proven approaches for bringing innovative technologies to market.
20 August 2013

"The Cleantech Open, the world’s largest cleantech accelerator, is partnering with PARC, a Xerox company, to promote the formation and development of cleantech startups. PARC is now a National Sponsor of the Cleantech Open, and plans to work closely with the Cleantech Open to create industry events, mentor entrepreneurs and startups, and provide technology expertise and prototyping support to selective startups."

 

The Three Biggest Aviation Advances From This Year
How RFID tags, carbon-fiber airframes, and battery sensors will change the course of flight
5 June 2013 | Popular Science
by David Hambling

"Batteries are little black boxes of chemistry, and when they fail, it can be hard to diagnose the problem. Scientists at PARC have embedded batteries with fiber-optic sensors. With internal data, engineers could optimize performance in real time or pinpoint the source of a problem to fix the trouble in future designs."

 

ARPA-E Awardee PARC Aims to Change the Way We Think About Batteries
22 May 2013 | ARPA-E

ARPA-E recently sat down with Dr. Eric Shrader, the principal investigator of PARC’s battery co-extrusion project, to talk innovation, reforming the electric vehicle (EV) industry, and changing the way we think about batteries.

 

Printing Batteries: Total Extrusion Zone
Tomorrow’s batteries will be squeezed out of nozzles, like toothpaste
20 April 2013 | The Economist

"PARC researchers are once again experimenting with printing. This time they are hoping to produce the technologies for a 21st-century revolution in clean energy.  PARC’s Hardware Systems Laboratory is developing electric-vehicle lithium-ion batteries that can hold 20% more energy than traditional designs...

The PARC researchers’ solution, which would surely have impressed their free-thinking forebears, was inspired by striped toothpaste. In PARC’s new battery, the two materials are mixed with an organic material to form pastes and fed into a print head containing tiny channels and nozzles. The print head moves over a metal foil, extruding the pastes alongside one another, to create thin stripes. Drying the substrate removes most of the organic material, leaving a solid cathode. In tests against otherwise identical batteries sporting cathodes made of but one substance, the co-extruded rechargeables could store a fifth more energy."

 

Monitoring your vitals with a webcam
11 March 2013 | San Jose Mercury News
by Troy Wolverton

"PARC researchers, for example, helped pioneer the printing of electronic circuits for use in things like sensors, computer chips and solar cells. At a separate presentation at the press event, another researcher discussed how the company is developing technology to print lithium batteries. The company expects its new technique to boost the storage capacity of the batteries by 20 percent, which could extend the range of electric cars or the amount of time you can surf the Web on your smartphone."

 

PARC redesigns printers to produce solar panels, batteries
9 March 2013 | PC World
by Martyn Williams

"They say inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. For a scientist at PARC, it came from a tube of toothpaste. The result is a new manufacturing method that can help make solar panels more efficient and increase the energy density of batteries."

 

Tube of toothpaste inspires researchers to develop efficient solar panels
9 March 2013 | EcoChunk
by Anupam Jolly

"A tube of toothpaste might be the first thing that you see after getting up in the morning...This technology coupled with existing Xerox technology like printing, came as a eureka moment for the scientist at PARC. By squeezing through a print nozzle a silver paste surrounded by a sacrificial material, which would eventually burn off, researchers found that they were able to get very fine silver lines, which in electronics is nothing less than a revolution."

 

PARC Hard at Work to Solve Problems in Health Care, Batteries, Traffic
8 March 2013 | eWeek
by Chris Preimesberger

"PARC this week reminded everyone what an innovator it is. The lab, nestled in the Palo Alto, Calif., foothills, on March 6 gave reporters a look into diverse projects that it is working on and that will reach the market in a few years, such as long-living batteries, on-demand downtown parking and digital health care-assistant devices." 

 

Video -- Better solar panels and batteries ... inspired by toothpaste
7 March 2013 | Network World
by Martyn Williams

Scott Elrod discusses and demonstrates PARC's co-extrusion (CoEx) printing technique for both solar cells and batteries.

 

ARPA-E Touts Smart Energy Successes
6 March 2013 | SmartMeters

"Deputy Director Martin singled out eight projects in her keynote address that emphasized ARPA-E’s catalytic role in convening energy technology communities, building federal partnerships, and catalyzing company formation. The projects include PARC; Battelle; Ceramatec; Infinia; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Florida; CUNY Energy Institute; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Applied Materials."

 

Video -- What Toothpaste and Battery Manufacturing Have in Common
4 March 2013 | POWER
by Gail Reitenbach

Scott Elrod discusses the use of a co-extrusion printing technique for electrodes to increase energy and power densities for most battery chemistries, as well as the development of a fiber optic monitoring system that provides detailed information about the internal condition of batteries.

 

9 Clever Energy Projects from ARPA-E Summit 2013
4 March 2013 | Popular Mechanics
by Michael Belfiore

"PARC displayed a couple of potentially breakthrough technologies in development. The first: Battery sensors would rely on fiberoptics embedded in the structure of a battery to monitor temperature, vibration, strain, and chemical changes. It's a capability that currently doesn't exist and could allow engineers to do more thorough testing of preproduction batteries, potentially heading off problems like the battery fires on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. At the very least, it could allow for a kind of black box for batteries that would gather data collected by the new sensors in order pinpoint exactly what when wrong after a mishap."

 

Chu’s Last Public Speech as Secretary of Energy
28 February 2013 | POWER
by Gail Reitenbach

Photo in article of Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu visiting PARC's Technology Showcase exhibit at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. Here he discusses an embedded fiber optic sensing system for battery packs developed by researchers at PARC, who received a $4,017,132 ARPA-E award for the project.

 

ARPA-E Awards $130 Million for 66 Transformational Energy Technology Projects
OPEN 2012 is ARPA-E’s Second Open Call for Innovative Energy Technology Solutions
28 November 2012 | announcement

"Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced 66 cutting-edge research projects selected by the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to receive a total of $130 million in funding through its OPEN 2012 program..." (Download Full List)

Organization:  PARC
Description:  Printed Integral Batteries -- PARC will develop an innovative manufacturing process for lithium-ion batteries that reduces manufacturing costs and improves performance. PARC’s printing process would manufacture narrow stripes within battery layers that could improve the amount of energy storage allowing an extended electric vehicle driving range.

 

$4 Million To Improve Battery Performance
20 September 2012 | Hybrid Cars
by Philippe Crowe

"PARC announced yesterday it has signed a $4 million contract with the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under the program for Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED).

This contract will have PARC, along with project partner LG Chem Power Inc. (LGCPI), a subsidiary of LG Chem, develop a fiber optic monitoring system capable of providing detailed information about the internal condition of batteries. The end goal is to allow batteries to perform better in applications such as electric vehicles (EVs)."

 

Sensors Are Key to Better EV Batteries
ARPA-E wants to get more out of lithium-ion batteries
7 September 2012 | IEEE Spectrum
by Prachi Patel

ARPA-E has awarded more than $4 million to PARC.

"The PARC team has developed a wavelength-shift detector about the size of a quarter. A single detector could handle optical fibers from many battery cells, and it should cost only a few hundred dollars, as opposed to $10 000-plus for conventional detectors, which require lasers and charge-coupled device arrays...

One of the project’s goals is to figure out the best set of internal variables to monitor in a battery, says Raghavan. The researchers are also developing intelligent algorithms that would read the raw data from the sensors and translate it into relevant numbers for a car’s battery-management system...Battery maker LG Chem Power, a partner on the project, will test the fiber-optic sensors in real batteries."

 

Penn State ARL to lead defense manufacturing research project
29 August 2012 | R&D

"Streamlining the design and manufacture of U.S. Department of Defense equipment, including vehicles, weapons, and other complex systems, is the goal of a $48 million contract recently awarded to Penn State University's Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits (iFAB) program, which is part of the agency's Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) portfolio...

The research capabilities of Penn State's Department of Industrial Engineering, Iowa State University, Bradley University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Texas, Austin, Arizona State University, RECON Services, and PARC will help develop the information architecture to enhance the manufacturing state of the art."

 

PARC Labs: 10 Key Accomplishments During First Decade After Spinning Out of Xerox [slideshow]
IT & Network Infrastructure
14 August 2012 | eWEEK
by Chris Preimesberger

"Now, in 2012, PARC is celebrating another milestone: the 10-year anniversary of becoming incorporated as a wholly owned yet independent subsidiary of Xerox. Currently, PARC has a long list of customers, but it still does most of its business with its parent company and government agencies...There also has been a lot of recent innovation at PARC of which you might not be aware. Here is a selection of 10 highly successful projects—culled from several dozen candidates—that were created, funded and empowered at PARC in the last 10 years."

 

$43 Million for Transformational Storage Projects to Advance Electric Vehicle and Grid Technologies
2 August 2012 | announcement
by ARPA-E

"The Department of Energy today announced that 19 transformative new projects will receive a total of $43 million in funding from the Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to leverage the nation’s brightest scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to develop breakthrough energy storage technologies and support promising small businesses..." [download full list]

Advanced Management And Protection Of Energy-Storage Devices (AMPED)

  • Lead organization: PARC
  • Description: Smart Embedded Network of Sensors with Optical Readout (SENSOR). Palo Alto Research Center will develop new fiber optic sensors that are inserted into battery packs to monitor and measure batteries during charge and discharge cycles. These compact fiber optical sensors will measure the battery’s health while in use to avoid degradation and failure.
  • Funding: $4,018,960

 

ARPA-E awards $43M to 19 energy storage projects to advance electric vehicle and grid technologies
2 August 2012 | Green Car Congress

"The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has selected 19 new projects to receive a total of $43 million to develop breakthrough energy storage technologies and support promising small businesses...

Unlike other Department of Energy efforts to push the frontiers of battery chemistry, AMPED is focused on maximizing the potential of existing battery chemistries. These innovations are intended to help reduce costs and improve the performance of next generation storage technologies, which could be applied in both plug-in electric and hybrid-electric vehicles."

 

Cassidy: PARC still in the business of innovation 10 years after Xerox spinoff
12 July 2012 | San Jose Mercury News
by Mike Cassidy

"PARC, once known as Xerox PARC, was spun out as a subsidiary of Xerox in 2002. For the past decade it's been responsible for its own bottom line, and it's been expected to turn a profit. It was a change from the days that PARC served one master: Xerox. Now, Hoover says, less than half the lab's work is for Xerox; the rest involves projects for other companies and government agencies. …PARC's independence means that its 180 scientists and technologists can't simply come up with ideas that are world-shattering, mind-bending and brilliant. A good portion of them have to be things that PARC and companies working with PARC can sell -- and in the near-term. Profit vs. blue-sky research: It's one of the oldest balancing acts among the research lab crowd.

...All that said, Hoover is determined to make sure that PARC researchers keep reaching for the next big thing that nobody has thought of yet. Yes, the lab has identified core areas that guide its research, including health and wellness, big data, cleantech, printed electronics, networking and innovation services. But, Hoover says, as much as 25 percent of its research investments are spent on projects outside the core areas, allowing scientists to stumble onto unforeseen breakthroughs."

 

Global industry collaboration key focus for China
20 March 2012 | pv magazine: Photovoltaic Markets & Technology
by Becky Stuart

"Another newcomer to the Chinese solar scene is PARC… Scott Elrod, vice president and director of the hardware systems lab explained that the company is focused on the cleantech industry, and works with companies in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. PARC specializes in advanced cell architecture, and particularly focuses on photovoltaic cell printing, metallization, grid lines, laser processing and point contacts."

 

Can ARPA-E build a bridge across the 'Valley of Death'?
6 March 2012 | E&E News
by Umair Irfan

"PARC is investigating clean-tech, using its expertise in printing to print better solar cells and more energy-dense lithium ion batteries... [Scott Elrod] explained that the company is going after energy investments, including power generation, because it's an emerging market that's here to stay. The company received some funding from DOE, but not under ARPA-E."

 

Reinventing energy at ARPA-E: Plastic light concentrator [photos]
28 February 2012 | CNET
by Martin La Monica

"The ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit brings a number of startups but a large portion of the exhibitors are from national labs, universities, and research organizations. PARC, which is a Xerox company, has an energy research arm and is displaying this solar concentrator. It reflects light with dies in a sheet of plastic and then directs it up through the Fresnel lens on the top. The idea is to manufacture this at very small scale so that you could use sheets of plastic with this design embedded in it to reflect light cheaply."

 

State of Green Business 2012
[invited/ guest contributed]
18 January 2012 | GreenBiz.com
by Scott Elrod

"Someone at PARC once famously quoted, 'The best way to predict the future is to invent it.' When that concept is applied to cleantech – where the future is focused on deploying solutions at a massive scale, and where there is no Moore's Law for PV – I'd say the best way to predict the future is to 'innovate' it."

 

Reinventing Innovation at PARC
28 July 2011 | Harvard Business Review HBR Blog Network
by Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer

"A few weeks back, we saw firsthand a hotbed of innovation in a place that many observers had long ago given up on. Its resurrection convinces us that other organizations can do the same by creating a culture of consideration, coordination, and communication, and marrying that culture to a responsive business model. That resurgent hotbed is PARC (formerly Xerox PARC)…

Over the past several years, PARC — spun off as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary of Xerox in 2002 — has reinvented itself as a font of innovation for Xerox and a variety of other organizations worldwide. It has delivered a stunning array of software and hardware innovations to global corporations, startups, and the U.S. government, and it does a brisk business in IP licensing.

How is it that this place, widely ridiculed 20 years ago, has revived? When we visited, we not only saw pieces of PARC's storied past, but we saw what happens there today, how it happens, and how innovation continues to thrive."

 

Researchers Create Printed Battery That Stores 40% More Energy
15 April 2011 | Discovery Treehugger
by Jerry James Stone

"A new manufacturing process developed by Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) will increase the energy a lithium-ion battery can store by 40%. The technology is similar to that of printed solar cells...

It seems the free gift with purchase here is not going to be shaving off the cost but extending the cars range to meet our perceived driving needs. As drivers of the Chevy Volt are already reporting 1,000 miles per tank, it will be interesting to see if PARC can change the electric car industry as they did solar."

 

PARC: How to build a cleantech portfolio 101
[invited/ guest contributed]
6 April 2011 | SmartPlanet
by Scott Elrod

This is a guest post from PARC, which became an independent Xerox subsidiary in 2002. One of the first areas PARC examined was cleantech. What follows are some steps and thoughts on balancing the environment, impact and commercial realities...

 

PARC Battery Electrode Breakthrough
1 April 2011 | Printed Electronics World

"While the solar cell application has a near-term sales opportunity, commercial application of the technology to battery electrodes is probably 2-3 years out, Elrod noted. There is further opportunity for the method in air cathodes. The current density in an air-breathing electrode is proportional to the amount of electro-catalytic surface area that is exposed to air. The PARC technology provides a directed-assembly printing method for producing a greater proportion of this 'three-phase boundary' than conventional electrode manufacturing methods—up to 10x the air-breathing surface area of conventional electrodes."

 

The PARC Vision Of Clean Technology
29 March 2011 | EarthTechling
by Nino Marchetti

"The many office parks of the Silicon Valley hold a myriad of technology firms large and small trying to make a name for themselves in the annals of history. There are obvious giants like Apple and HP, but another player, Xerox, is one which can be credited with a chunk of the modern technology we take for granted. The company many are most familiar with in regards to copiers is also the founder of PARC, a research and development subsidiary that is independent and wholly owned. It has been known for inventions and game changers such as laser printing,  the graphical user interface and Ethernet connectivity.

PARC has recently turned its attention to the developing cleantech space, focusing on areas like an experimental system for modeling and evaluation of geothermal reservoirs. To get a better handle on what PARC has in mind around a cleantech tomorrow, we turned to Dr. Scott Elrod, who directs the organization’s efforts in this area."

 

US Patent Issued...on "Concentrating Solar Collector with Solid Optical Element"
(California Inventors)
18 March 2011 | ElectroIQ
by U.S. Fed News

"United States Patent no. 7,906,722, issued on March 15, was assigned to Palo Alto Research Center Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) 'Concentrating Solar Collector with Solid Optical Element'. According to the abstract released by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: 'A Cassegrain-type concentrating solar collector cell includes primary and secondary mirrors disposed on opposing convex and concave surfaces of a light-transparent (e.g., glass) optical element. Light enters an aperture surrounding the secondary mirror, and is reflected by the primary mirror toward the secondary mirror, which re-reflects the light onto a photovoltaic cell mounted on a central region surrounded by the convex surface. The primary and secondary mirrors are preferably formed as mirror films that are deposited or plated directly onto the optical element. A concentrating solar collector array includes a sheet-like optical panel including multiple optical elements arranged in rows. The photovoltaic cells are mounted directly onto the optical panel, and the primary mirrors of the individual collector cells include metal film segments that are coupled by the photovoltaic cells to facilitate transmission of the generated electrical energy. Bypass diodes are connected in parallel with the photovoltaic cells.'"

 

PARC building cleantech portfolio; co-extrusion printing of novel battery electrodes and carbon-neutral renewable liquid fuels from atmospheric CO2
9 March 2011 | Green Car Congress
by Mike Millikin

"Two of the projects Elrod and PARC were discussing at last week’s ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington DC were a technology for the co-extrusion printing of novel battery electrodes, enabling higher energy and/or power densities; and an approach to producing carbon-neutral renewable hydrocarbon fuels using air, water and CO2 captured from the atmosphere.

Electrodes. ...The PARC technology provides a directed-assembly printing method for producing a greater proportion of this 'three-phase boundary' than conventional electrode manufacturing methods—up to 10x the air-breathing surface area of conventional electrodes...

Carbon-neutral liquid fuel. ...In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the PARC researchers present results indicating that the energy consumption required to regenerate CO2 gas from aqueous bicarbonate (carbonate) solutions using this method can be as low as 100 kJ (200 kJ) per mol of CO2 in the small-current-density limit."

 

Squeezing More Energy Out of Batteries
A new printing process could increase battery capacity by over 10 percent.
2 March 2011 | Technology Review

"PARC has developed a new printing technology that promises to pack more energy into batteries for electric vehicles...

The biggest challenge for electric vehicles remains bringing down the size and cost of their batteries. For them to compete with conventional vehicles, some experts estimate, battery costs must come down by about 75 percent. And if the batteries could store more energy, automakers could use fewer of them, thus saving money...

The work is still at an early stage, but the basic printing concept has been proved with a method PARC developed for printing thin silver lines on solar cells; these are being commercialized by a major solar manufacturer..."

 

On the importance of government-supported R&D [video]
2 March 2011 | Popular Mechanics/ self
by Michael Belfiore

"I caught up with Scott Elrod...while we were both at the 2nd annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit near Washington.

In this era of government cutbacks, I think it’s important to underline the importance of continued public funding for long-term technology research and development that may not lead to profitable products for some time.

In this video, I asked Elrod to describe the importance of government funding to some of his company’s work."

 

A new printing technology
2 March 2011 | Investor's Business Daily
by Investors.com

"A new printing technology that can produce more efficient electrodes for batteries has been developed by engineers at PARC. The electrodes could improve the energy storage capacity of batteries by 10% to 30%, with minimal effect on manufacturing cost, they say. The printing technology specially aligns electrode and conductive materials."

 

VCs and Solar Startups
Is there still room for new technology and VC investment in the solar industry?
3 November 2010 | Greentech Media
by Eric Wesoff

"The solar market continues its meteoric growth. No other renewable energy market has grown this fast for this long. A number of solar vendors have entered the 'one gigawatt capacity club' and the sheer heat in the market has convinced a bunch of Fortune 500 firms to enter the field. Along with this growth, however, has come falling ASPs, excess capacity and intensified competition. Solar panels produce electrons and electrons are arguably a commodity product. That makes solar panels look like commodities, as well. Is there still for room for next-generation technology and new companies in the solar field? Are there still opportunities for solar startups and their VC investors? The Fountainblue organization put on an event at Palo Alto's PARC with solar investors and entrepreneurs and tried to answer those questions.

The panelists: Scott Elrod, VP, Director of Hardware Systems Laboratory, PARC.  Elrod believes that the current crop of U.S. concentrated solar power (CSP) projects are going to run into "regulatory roadblocks" and has concerns over their water usage..."

 

PARC applies IT innovation to cleantech problems
21 October 2010 | ZDNet
by Heather Clancy

"Much has been made about the 40th anniversary of PARC, which started life as the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. What you might not have heard is that approximately 10 percent of the research facility’s research and development activities are now focused on cleantech innovation. I recently spoke with Scott Elrod, a PARC vice president and who is manager of what PARC calls its Cleantech Innovation Program (CIP).

Elrod says there are four primary areas where PARC has a role to play in cleantech: Energy efficiency, water purification, solar energy and carbon emissions capture. 'We created this with no background in those markets but in strong competency areas that we thought could be applied to cleantech,' he says.

Not surprisingly, the facility’s roots in LCD and printer research — PARC has more than 1,800 patents — have been called upon for at least one of these research areas, water purification..."

 

DOE Selects EPRI Collaborative to Lead Cyber Security Project
Initiative aims to secure electric sector from cyber attacks.
28 September 2010 | distributedenergy.com
by press release

"The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) said today that the U.S. Department of Energy has selected its cyber security collaborative to assess and develop technologies, best practices, metrics and standards to protect the U.S. electric sector against cyber attacks. The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the collaborative will negotiate a funding level for the public-private research initiative.

The EPRI-led collaborative comprises national research and commercial research laboratories, universities, and subject mater experts in key areas of cyber security... The participants bring diverse experience in technology, business, standards and policy. It was among 10 cyber security initiatives representing an investment of more than $30 million that was announced last week in Washington by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

...The EPRI-led collaborative comprises Enernex, Flowers CCS, Xanthus Consulting International, N-Dimension, Palo Alto Research Center [PARC], SRI, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Sandia National Lab, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Telcordia, University of Houston, Mladen Kezunovic (Texas A&M University), University of Minnesota Smart Grid consortium (including Adventium Labs and Honeywell), UCLA, UC Berkeley, Inguardians, and Arc Technical. Siemens and ABB..."

 

Silicon Nanowires for Solar, Desalination Via Gravity on Tap at PARC’s 40th
The legendary lab turns 40. Here is what’s next. Video too.
23 September 2010 | Greentech Media
by Michael Kanellos

"...many of the presentations focused on how the lab managed to come up with and popularize some of its storied inventions, while also looking toward the future."

 

Reverse Combustion: Can CO2 Be Turned Back into Fuel?
Various efforts are underway to find a cheap, efficient and scalable way to recycle the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide back into the hydrocarbons that fuel civilization
23 September 2010 | Scientific American
by David Biello

PARC work included in video.

 

Innovation PARCs here
Palo Alto Research Center that paved way for PCs in the '70s is far from fading, but now looking to solar and other new technologies
22 September 2010 | San Jose Mercury News
by Troy Wolverton

"While acclaimed for inventing the laser printer, the desktop interface for PCs and the idea of 'ubiquitous computing' that paved the way for the PalmPilot and iPad, PARC isn't mired in the past. If anything, PARC, which was spun off from Xerox in 2002, has a broader mission today...

'PARC has not just survived but it's absolutely thriving,' said Paul Saffo, a longtime valley watcher and the managing director of foresight at San Francisco-based Discern Analytics. 'It's a vibrant organization that is still helping reinvent the future. ...An astounding number of the foundational ideas for Silicon Valley came out of PARC,' Saffo said."

 

Fast Moving Fronts - 2010
Ashish V. Pattekar & Mayuresh V. Kothare talk with ScienceWatch.com and answer a few questions about this month's Fast Moving Fronts paper in the field of Engineering.
1 May 2010 | ScienceWatch.com
by interview

One of us, Ashish V. Pattekar, is currently at PARC, which has an active cleantech program. In a recent analysis, we have compared this approach to that of the current recharging-discharging model of supplying portable power using batteries.

It turns out that, on a per watt-hour basis, the overall cycle of generating electricity in a coal-fired power plant and then converting to low-voltage DC for recharging at the point-of-use results in almost twice as much CO2 emissions overall, compared to the production and use of methanol in a portable fuel cell as discussed in our publication—leading to significant environmental benefits as well, apart from the performance improvements over today's rechargeable battery technology.

 

Scaling, collaboration are keys to maintaining U.S. cleantech edge
[invited/ guest contributed]
1 April 2010 | EE Times
by Scott Elrod

"...Why is this trend telling? The consequence of such slow materials development is that a new or complex materials like nanostructured photovoltaics do not have a real shot at mitigating global warming...Given the math, it is clear that global warming needs to be addressed by rapidly scaling the technologies that are already proven at gigawatt scales (wind, PV, nuclear), and by implementing energy savings technologies that are not based on radically new materials. So, while it might be possible for a technology or company to be a "winner" in terms of VC investment, this is not the same as winning against global warming. With those realities in mind, I highlight several promising technologies from the ARPA-Energy event:.."

 

Is ARPA-E Enough to Keep the U.S. on the Cutting-Edge of a Clean Energy Revolution?
ARPA-E, the U.S.'s energy transformation agency, is doling out funds for greener power, but is it too conservative?
3 March 2010 | Scientific American
by David Biello

"...$100 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (better known as the stimulus) was made available on March 2, to be awarded via ARPA–E to the best proposals for new grid-scale storage devices, better power converters and more efficient air conditioners, such as the ones being developed by PARC that rely on sound waves rather than mechanical pistons to drive compressors."

 

Can Sound Waves Reduce Power Consumption?
PARC says it may have developed a way to run air conditioners on sound waves.
1 March 2010 | Greentech Media
by Michael Kanellos

However, that [laboratory thermoacoustic compressor] equipment works best in extreme situations and is not particularly efficient or economical for keeping office buildings at 72 degrees. PARC's breakthrough lay in devising a thermoacoustic device for ambient temperatures...If it works and can go commercial, the cooling sound from PARC could take a substantial chunk of out U.S. and even global power consumption.

 

CIO Sessions: PARC VP, hardware systems laboratory: Scott Elrod [video]
Staying on the edge of innovation
2 December 2008 | ZDNet.com
by Dan Farber

Scott Elrod, VP of PARC's Hardware Systems Laboratory talks about PARC's Cleantech Innovation Program and what it takes to stay on the edge of innovation.

 

Printer Controls for Data Centers
2 May 2008 | Greentech Media
by Jennifer Kho

"...PARC has developed software that can reduce servers' energy usage by 30 percent (or, more likely, allow data centers to provide 30 percent more service using the same energy), said Scott Elrod, manager of the PARC's Clean Technology Program. The software basically predicts demand, allowing data centers to prioritize and manage jobs more efficiently."

 

Xerox's PARC to Spin Out Solar Startup
2 May 2008 | Greentech Media
by Jennifer Kho

"The Palo Alto Research Center plans to launch a venture-capital-backed company that can improve solar cells' efficiency with thinner electricity-conducting grid lines. The center also hopes to commercialize a low-energy water-filtration technology, reusable printing paper and energy-management software for data centers, all in the next year."

 

Reincarnation for Paper, Without Recycling
2 May 2008 | Greentech Media
by Jennifer Kho

"After about two years of development, Xerox scientists have come up with a photosensitive paper and a 'printer' that uses a blue UV light-emitting diode instead of ink or toner to make its marks. Eric Shrader, area manager of PARC's hardware systems laboratory said 'While businesses have been talking about the paperless office for 30 years, paper usage actually keeps increasing.'"

 

How PARC sees printers boosting clean tech
Dust, heat, bright light, chaos. The inside of copiers share a lot of characteristics with the outside world.
2 April 2008 | CNET News.com
by Michael Kanellos

PARC "...is examining ways of taking technology and ideas originally devised for copiers and printers into the clean-tech market. A lot of the components and ideas at work inside printers exist to control physical forces and objects in a constantly changing environment. Thus, they should be useful in channeling sunlight or other phenomena on a larger scale."

 

Xerox and PARC on Comeback Trail with Cleantech and Other Technologies
6 March 2008 | SiliconValleyWatcher
by Tom Foremski

"'PARC was spun out so that we could harness the entrepreneurial spirit of our staff. When you hire exceptional people you don't want to narrow their focus on technologies that are just useful for Xerox,' says [Xerox CTO Sophie] Vandebroek. 'You want to be able to allow them to find commercial opportunities in adjacent sectors.'

 

An inside tour of PARC's cleantech projects
Famous for computing breakthroughs like the GUI and ethernet, PARC is now a cleantech hotbed.
15 February 2008 | cleantech.com
by Dallas Kachan

"PARC is using its new status as an independent business to leverage its almost 40-year history in IT, mass production, microfluidics and other scientific expertise for a variety of mostly corporate clients...unlike the government focus of other research institutes. And now, there are a number of interesting cleantech-specific initiatives underway.."