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ARPA-E to award up to $30M for methane monitoring and $30M for localized thermal management in buildings

30 April 2014

ARPA-E has issued two separate funding opportunity announcements for a total of up to $60 million for two new programs to (1) detect and measure methane emissions (DE-FOA-0001128) and (2) to develop innovative localized thermal management systems that cut the energy needed to heat and cool buildings (DE-FOA-0001127).

The Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program will help the oil and gas sector reduce methane emissions. The program implementation focus is on “oil and gas systems” from the wellhead to the end-user.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that in 2011, methane accounted for 8.8% of the global warming impact from domestic human activity. This estimate used the 100-year GWP100 factor of 21, which is at the lowest end of the GWP spectrum; if the higher range value for 20-year GWP20 of 86 is used instead, the global warming impact from anthropogenic methane in the US would increase to 31.9%.

EPA also estimates that oil and natural gas systems comprise approximately 30% of the US anthropogenic methane emissions. This corresponds to a methane leakage rate of around 1.65%. Recent studies suggest this might be a low figure. (Earlier post.)

The goal of the MONITOR program is to support the development of disruptive approaches for methane emission detection and measurement that will enable widespread utilization and facilitate reductions in methane emissions. The specific objective of the FOA is to detect and measure methane leaks as small as 1 ton per year from a site 10 m x 10 m in area with a certainty that would allow 90% reduction in methane loss for an annual site cost of $3,000. The system should be capable of estimating the location and mass flow rate of a leak, should be able to transmit results wirelessly to a remote receiver, and should incorporate data processing to minimize false positive events.

The program will make up to $30 million available to help US teams develop low-cost, highly-sensitive systems that detect and measure methane associated with the production and transportation of oil and natural gas.

ARPA-E anticipates making approximately 12- 18 awards under this FOA; individual awards may vary between $ 250,000 and $ 10 million.

The Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA) program will help develop innovative localized heating and cooling devices to expand temperature ranges within buildings—enhancing personal comfort while saving energy.

While most of today’s heating and cooling systems are designed to heat and cool entire buildings, DELTA seeks to develop both installed and wearable devices that can regulate temperatures in close proximity to a building’s occupants.

This localized thermal management will enable buildings to operate in wider temperature ranges while still ensuring occupant comfort, which would dramatically reduce the building’s energy consumption and associated emissions.

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