With three-year, $3 million grants, ARPA-E takes a portfolio approach in several different program areas that bring together companies, researchers, and other government agencies from diverse fields. For example, it is funding researchers at Boston University and Georgia Tech who are developing new algorithms that will calculate more quickly and precisely how to route electricity around the grid and how to respond in a split second when there are signs of a failure. And Smart Wire Grid is a company that is developing magnets that clip on to electrical wires and could help operators actually control the flow of electrons through the system–something they can’t do today, which is one reason why outages tend to spread. Other researchers are working on the long-term problem of reducing the costs of batteries that store energy by finding lower cost materials to use and reducing the amount of material needed.

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