The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded a grant to Volta Inc. and Imagen Energy LLC, a developer of compact, high-power electric vehicle (EV) chargers. The project aims to develop and commercialize the next generation of domestically manufactured DC fast charging (DCFC) technology to support the federal government’s clean energy and climate priorities.
The grant is part of the ARPA-E Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy Technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) program, which provides further funding to previous ARPA-E teams that have been determined to be suitable for widespread deployment and a Domestic commercialization are suitable. SCALEUP selectees demonstrate a viable route to commercial deployment and the ability to attract private sector investment.
Through this project, Imagen and Volta aim to develop and market chargers that are more flexible, more powerful and more affordable. The project will leverage Imagen’s flexible, high-efficiency silicon carbide (SiC)-based power conversion platform to produce compact charging cabinets that enable affordable, easier to install and highly reliable high-performance fast chargers that can charge multiple EVs simultaneously and be quickly deployed in a market. The flexible platform aims to facilitate optional, convenient integration with energy storage and renewable energy, and support vehicle-grid integration.
The equipment will be engineered to deliver a minimum of 150 kW and manufactured in the United States to meet Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) requirements. The technology will also address network connectivity requirements, including plug-and-charge capabilities and communication via the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and the Open Charge Point Interface Protocol (OCPI), building on Volta’s existing software implementation to provide a flexible Enable integration with roaming charging partners.
Volta will leverage its patented PredictEV infrastructure planning software to identify optimal locations for effective piloting and initial deployment based on local EV ownership, mobility trends, demographics and income levels. With more than 3,000 booths currently installed, many in disadvantaged communities, and numerous existing relationships with leading retail and commercial properties, Volta’s EV charging network will enable rapid feedback loops during the testing phase.
“Imagen relies on commercialization partners like Volta to accelerate the deployment of our high power density silicon carbide-based power conversion platforms,” said Ezana Mekonnen, Chief Technology Officer at Imagen. “The combination of Volta’s advanced planning tool PredictEV and the company’s existing charging network creates the ideal environment to quickly develop reliable, affordable and efficient charging solutions that support the rapid transition to electric mobility.”
“Although this is a modest initial government grant that will not replace the capital needs we are currently raising, it is a testament to Volta’s ability to align our business with federal government priorities,” commented Vince Cubbage, Interim Secretary CEO of Volta. “Volta’s collaboration with Imagen on this successful ARPA-E application demonstrates our commitment to supporting solutions that are bipartisan infrastructure law compliant and ensuring implementation can occur in a capital efficient manner.”