UMD receives 24th ARPA-E Award

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $33M in funding as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) Rapid Encapsulation of Pipelines Avoiding Intensive Replacement (REPAIR) program. REPAIR seeks to eliminate the highest pipe rehabilitation cost components, excavation and restoration, by repairing pipes without their removal. The selected REPAIR teams are developing smart coatings, robotic systems to line the inside of pipes, inspection tools to verify the integrity of the pipes, and mapping tools to enable 3D renderings of pipes and adjacent underground infrastructure.  REPAIR teams are also developing technologies to address deficiencies while working toward a 10-to-20-times reduction in cost per mile.

Maryland Energy Innovation Institute (MEI2) faculty in the A. James Clark School of Engineering will lead one of these newly funded projects along with partners from DiakontExelon, and the University of Pittsburgh. The project proposes a multifaceted and integrated approach to develop a smart alloy coating for use in pipe-in-pipe configurations with UMD’s patented high-temperature sintering process. A novel smart alloy coating is rapidly sintered with a high-temperature Joule heating bar directly from the alloy powders in approximately 10 seconds. The coating can be scaled to meet commercial market demands due to its high sintering density, mechanical strength, and self-healing properties. UMD’s technology is targeted to be capable of generating new steel pipe to replace older infrastructure at a lower cost for gas service and with improved mechanical strength and corrosion resistance on a 50-year lifetime. 

Dr. Liangbing Hu, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor, Director of the Center for Materials Innovation, and PI of the project  notes, “The University of Maryland (UMD) is excited to apply its recently developed, innovative, high-speed, contact-less sintering technology to the challenges faced in the renovation of natural gas distribution lines through the ARPA-E REPAIR program.”  

Co-PI Dr. Paul Albertus, Associate Director of MEI2 and UMD Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, added “In addition to providing a new, structural, "pipe in pipe" that repairs the function of the original pipe, we are also developing a pipe material that will be compatible with either pure hydrogen or hydrogen/natural gas mixtures, which our partner Exelon and other utilities are interested in for future decarbonized gas supply infrastructure.”

MEI2 is committed to advancing clean energy technology within the state of Maryland and is pleased to partner with Exelon, a Maryland-based company, as well as a UMD Clark School alumnus, Edward Petit de Mange(BSME 2001) at Diakont, and university start-up HighT-Tech LLC.

This is the 24th ARPA-E Award for UMD since the program’s inception in 2009. UMD is one of the top three public universities in ARPA-E awards and has received over $60M in ARPA-E funding.


Published August 10, 2020