Local Tech Wire

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Two Triangle firms were awarded $7.9 million in federal funds Monday for energy research projects.

Durham-based Cree (Nasdaq: CREE) and ABB (NYSE: ABB), an international energy conglomerate which operates its U.S. headquarters in Cary, were among 43 recipients of $92 million in Department of Energy’s program.

ABB will work with Brookhaven National Lab and SuperPower Inc. on a project involving superconducting magnetic energy storage. The project will explore use of the technology for storage of electricity in power grids.

The grant is worth $4.2 million.

“If the high-risk breakthrough technologies in this project are successfully developed, the result will advance SMES from a high-cost solution for delivering short bursts of energy to a technology that is cost-competitive for delivering megawatt hours of stored electricity,” the DOE said.

Cree, meanwhile, will work with ABB as well as North Carolina State University, Powerex and the Naval Research Lab to develop transistor-based electrical substations that the DOE says “can help make the electrical grid more flexible and controllable.”

The grant is worth more than $3.7 million.

“With these advanced transistors, electrical substations could replace today’s massive (8,000 lb) distribution transformers with much smaller, suitcase-sized electronic transformers (100 lbs),” DOE said.

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