Energy Storage Systems

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is issuing a Request for Information on energy storage systems and components, solely for information gathering and planning purposes; this RFI does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals. The following sections of this announcement contain details of the scope of technical efforts of interest, along with instructions for the submission of responses.

Background & Scope

The use of portable electronic devices, and high-power electric vehicle systems have increased dramatically in the 21st century, changing how people travel, communicate, and process information. Increasingly, these systems are becoming indispensable components of everyday life.

Portable electronics: Only ten years after the arrival of the first smart phones in 2009, the American population now depends on these handheld computers to find driving directions, do their banking, apply for jobs, and conduct an increasingly large number of other personal and business activities. The U.S. Government has also increased its use of portable electronic devices for civilian, military and law enforcement purposes. Both personal and governmental applications require ever-increasing communications capacity and processing power. In turn, these demands lead to a need for smaller and/or longer lasting energy storage density.

Commercial electric vehicles: As with personal electronic devices, commercial interest in highpower electric drive vehicles has greatly increased over the last ten years. In 2017, 760,000 electric vehicles were sold in the US, with sales rates forecasted to reach 1/3 of all vehicle sales by 2030. Electric flight systems are also increasingly in commercial use, with $3 billion in sales in 2017. Commercial applications for aerial electric vehicle applications include:

  • Monitoring (construction site progress, traffic flow, crop growth, oil-and-gas pipeline leakage monitoring and livestock protection from predators);
  • Remote or undesirable operations activities (window washing, trash removal);
  • Communications replacement for satellites; and
  • Package delivery and air-taxis.

Package delivery in particular is useful in rural and difficult-to-reach locations, such as for medication delivery. Prototypes of electric drive air taxi services are being built now, and are likely to be used commercially within the next 10 years. Similarly, electric drivetrain combat vehicles can operate at heightened torque, traction, power and speed compared with traditional methods.3 Just as people want their personal electronic devices to function longer on a single charge, consumers of ground and air-based electric vehicles are on a constant search to increase vehicle range, which translates to a need for greater specific energy density power sources in smaller spaces.

Many devices and vehicles that run on portable power also need to operate at high temperatures. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ publications, when temperatures outside range from 25- 40°C, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 50-80°C. Today’s batteries suffer irreversible capacity loss if held at temperatures over 50°C, and can catch fire or explode at 80°C.

This RFI seeks information regarding technologies for high-power/high-energy portable energy storage devices (Category 1, below), as well as technologies that will make these storage devices robust to prolonged times of operation and/or storage at high ambient temperatures (Category 2, below). Since greater energy density and robust performance at high temperatures are different kinds of problems with high importance, IARPA has listed these needs as two separate categories below. If a technology could help to solve both of these needs simultaneously, it would be of particularly strong interest. Category 1 describes a power source for electric propulsion systems in air, sea and land vehicles. Category 2 concerns energy storage technology for computation and communications devices such as cell phones that is designed to survive use in high temperature environments, such as hot cars in the summer months.

Areas of Interest

IARPA is looking for information on electrical energy storage systems or associated technologies with the performance characteristics listed below. We are interested in existing commercial products, emerging concepts requiring research, as well as a mix of both. For all categories, IARPA seeks approaches with sufficient proof-of-concept test data to demonstrate how the desired performance characteristics might be achieved. For existing systems, please describe how the technology currently meets, or may need to be modified to meet the metrics below. Technologies of interest include batteries, fuel cells, fuel sources, materials, membranes or other components or experimental concepts that may be used to construct an energy storage system. For this RFI, the two performance categories of interest to IARPA are:

  • Category 1: High Energy Storage Systems:
    • Specific energy of >600 Wh/kg at 25°C. Batteries must meet energy requirements at a C/2 to 1C rate
    • <10kg total mass
    • >1000 W continuous power for at least 1 minute, with ability to ramp to 8000 W power peaks at 25°C
    • Systems must include all fuel and associated balance of plant within the system package. Systems with an air inlet or exhaust are acceptable
    • Single use concepts are acceptable; rechargeable or refuelable storage systems are desirable, but are of lower interest than the other listed criteria
  • Category 2: Thermally Resilient Energy Storage Systems:
    • 1000 Wh/L volumetric energy density, and can maintain 90% of its capacity after storage at >60°C continually for four weeks without refueling or recharging
    • <1L total volume
    • 0-10 mW continuous power, with ability to ramp to 10 W peak power at 25°C
    • System must be rechargeable or refuelable at least 3 cycles, although more is
      desirable, and maintain >80% of its original capacity after each cycle/refuel
    • Systems must include all fuel and associated balance of plant within the system
      package. Systems with an air inlet or exhaust are acceptable

Responses to this RFI should also answer the following questions:

  1. What is the underlying technology that enables your concept or system? Please provide a technical rationale for why the concept is expected to achieve the specified performance parameters along with supporting data. Please include drawings, figures, and tables as appropriate to describe and parameterize your approach. If previous work on the project was U.S. Government funded, please provide the name of the program manager, agency and contract number funding the work.
  2. For developed technologies or systems, describe how the system has been deployed and for what applications, if any. Please provide any product specifications or independent evaluation data as an appendix to your response.
  3. In addition to any other information provided, please complete responses to the chart below for each described technology. Note that if the technology is still a concept, some of the fields below may not specifically apply, such as mass or volume. If the parameters in the table below do not relate to your proposed technology (such as a new material), please do not include the table in your response. If you do not have test data for your technology, please provide calculations/estimations and your rationale for those estimates. Please indicate for all fields whether the response is based on data (D), calculation/modeling (C), or estimation/extrapolation (E).
 Parameter  Technology 1  Technology 2
System Mass (kg)    
System Volume (L)    
Specific Energy Density
(Wh/kg) (cell basis)
Volumetric Energy Density
(Wh/L) (cell basis)
Power (nominal) (W)    
Power (peak) (W) and pulse duration (sec)    
Heat Output (J or cal)    
Audible noise produced (dB)    
Number of expected refuels/restarts/recharges expected before original capacity falls below 80%, if applicable.    
Self-discharge time to 80% of original charged capacity at 60oC (hours/days) (applies only to thermally robust systems).    
Operating Conditions    
Temperature (give range, in °C)    
Pressure (give range, in torr)    
Relative Humidity (give range, in %)    
Vibration (Give range in Hz)    
Tolerance to pollutants (label pollutant, and maximum tolerated amount (intermittent amount in ng) during a full discharge, i.e. Sulfur, 500 ng / 1 hour)    

Preparation Instructions to Respondents

IARPA requests that submissions briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues/obstacles, describe how the approach may address those issues/obstacles and comment on the expected performance and robustness of the proposed approach. This request for information contains all of the information required to submit a response. No additional forms, kits, or other materials are needed.

IARPA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources from within and outside of the U.S.. Because IARPA is interested in an integrated approach, responses that include contributions from difference sources with complementary areas of expertise are encouraged.

Responses have the following formatting requirements:

  1. A one page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), respondent's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors, and clearly indicating its association with RFI-19-09;
  2. A substantive, focused, one-half page executive summary;
  3. A description (limited to 5 pages in minimum 12 point Times New Roman font, appropriate for single-sided, single-spaced A4 size or U.S. letter size 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1-inch margins) of the technical challenges and suggested approach(es) – figures and tables may have smaller type, but must be legible; page limit does not include appendices for specification sheets, or the table requested in this RFI;
  4. A list of citations (any significant claims or reports of success must be accompanied by citations);
  5. Optionally, a single overview briefing chart graphically depicting the key ideas.

Submission Instructions to Respondents

Responses to this RFI are due no later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on September 23, 2019. All submissions must be electronically submitted to as a PDF document. Inquiries to this RFI must be submitted to Do not send questions with proprietary content. No telephone inquiries will be accepted.

Submission Instructions to Respondents

Responses to this RFI are due no later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on September 23, 2019. All submissions must be electronically submitted to as a PDF document. Inquiries to this RFI must be submitted to Do not send questions with proprietary content. No telephone inquiries will be accepted.

Disclaimers and Important Notes

This is an RFI issued solely for information and planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI.

Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. IARPA will not provide reimbursement for costs incurred in responding to this RFI. It is the respondent's responsibility to ensure that the submitted material has been approved for public release by the information owner.

The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited, nor is the Government obligated to issue a solicitation based on responses received. Neither proprietary nor classified information should be included in the submittal. Input on technical aspects of the responses may be solicited by IARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements.

Contracting Office Address:

Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Washington, District of Columbia 20511
United States

Primary Point of Contact:

Dawson Cagle
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity


Posted Date: August 23, 2019
Responses Due: September 23, 2019