Seeking Energy Ideas to Improve Life on Earth & Enhance Space Exploration

April 02, 2018 by Paul Shepard

NASA iTech and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) are collaborating on a unique iTech competition to identify transformational energy technologies that can improve energy generation, storage and distribution to the benefit of both space exploration and life on Earth.

For the 2018 iTech Energy Cycle, NASA and ARPA-E are seeking to identify the nation’s top entrepreneurs and researchers to present their innovative technologies to address energy-specific challenges.

Continuing through April 29, 2018, inventors and entrepreneurs can submit a five-page white paper on their concept on the NASA iTech website. A panel of subject matter experts from NASA and ARPA-E will review ideas submitted and select the top 10 finalists based on their relevance and potential impact.

A few examples of technology sub-themes that NASA believes have the potential to improve future space power systems include, but are not limited to:

  • Fuel Cells and Regenerative Fuel Cells
  • High-energy Density Batteries and Supercapacitors
  • Solar Power Systems
  • Small Fission Power Systems
  • Innovative Power Management and Distribution (including smart grids and wireless power transfer)
  • X-Factor Energy: innovations so compelling NASA and ARPA-E should know about them

"Although this is not a typical Cycle, NASA iTech has proven to be a successful public-private partnership model for stimulating the development of groundbreaking technologies, without the government being the early investor,” said Kira Blackwell, NASA iTech program executive in the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

“Previous entrants to NASA iTech have already raised more than $50 million in private investment funds,” Blackwell observed.

“The finalists have an opportunity to present their technologies and engage with NASA and ARPA-E subject matter experts, potential investors, and industry partners,” said Blackwell. “NASA is pleased to see an increased interest from the private sector by having Citi facilitate inclusion of a broad range of energy investors and corporate energy experts to assist in the competition process. Citi will also host the final round of coaching and judging at Citi’s global headquarters in New York City from June 11-14.”

“Citi is honored to support NASA iTech with this effort to crowdsource innovative and sustainable energy solutions that solve space exploration challenges as well as energy challenges here on earth,” said Jay Collins, Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking at Citi.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) at the U.S. Department of Energy provides R&D funding for transformational ideas to create America’s future energy technologies. ARPA-E focuses exclusively on early-stage technologies that could fundamentally change the way we generate, use, and store energy.

NASA iTech is an initiative sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia.