Meet America’s Next Top Energy Innovators

These companies are working on better batteries, engines that guzzle less gas, and materials to make more fuel-efficient cars.

At the cutting edge of energy technology, batteries are a big deal. Although innovators are constantly tweaking, slowly increasing the efficiency of solar panels and redesigning wind turbine blades, technologies for creating clean energy generally work well. The problem is that they don’t work all the time. And that means that in order to transition the country away from oil and coal, the energy industry is going to need bigger, better, and cheaper batteries.

That's why at this week's Energy Innovation Summit convened by the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, participants are showcasing high-energy lithium batteries, zinc-manganese dioxide batteries, and soluble lead flow batteries, alongside dozens of other energy storage, carbon capture, building efficiency, and biofuel technologies. Although Congress has been reluctant to fund ARPA-E at the levels the White House and business leaders like Bill Gates think the agency deserves, it’s managed to push forward clean-energy technology. Just last weekend, Envia Systems, an ARPA-E grant recipient, announced it had succeeded in making a rechargeable battery that would cut the cost of an electric car battery by 45 percent.

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