ARPA-E’s first solicitation, announced earlier this year, was highly competitive and resulted in awarding $151 million to 37 projects aimed at transformational innovations in energy storage, biofuels, carbon capture, renewable power, building efficiency, vehicles, and other areas. (Earlier post.) The second round is focused specifically on three areas of technology representing new approaches for advanced microbial biofuels, carbon capture, and batteries for electric vehicles. Areas of focus included under the new funding opportunity include: Electrofuels. ARPA-E is seeking new ways to make liquid transportation fuels—without using petroleum or biomass—by using microorganisms to harness chemical or electrical energy to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuels. Many methods of producing advanced and cellulosic biofuels are under development to lessen our dependence on petroleum and lower carbon emissions. Most of the methods currently under development involve converting biomass or waste, while there are also approaches to directly produce liquid transportation fuels from sunlight and carbon dioxide, typically using photosynthesis. The objective of this topic is to develop an entirely new paradigm for the production of liquid fuels that could overcome the challenges associated with current technologies. Although photosynthetic routes show promise, overall efficiencies remain low. ARPA-E requests innovative proposals which can overcome these challenges through the utilization of metabolic engineering and synthetic biological approaches for the efficient conversion of carbon dioxide to liquid transportation fuels. ARPA-E specifically seeks the development of organisms capable of extracting energy from hydrogen, from reduced earth-abundant metal ions, from robust, inexpensive, readily available organic redo active species, or directly from electric current. Theoretically such an approach could be 10 times more efficient than current photosynthetic-biomass approaches to liquid fuel production. Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation (BEEST). In this topic, ARPA-E seeks to develop a new generation of ultra-high energy density, low-cost battery technologies for long electric range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs). The development of high energy, low-cost batteries represents the critical barrier to wide-spread deployment of EVs, which if achieved would have a profound impact on US oil security, greenhouse gas emissions, and economic growth. The ambitious goals for this program are largely based upon the aggressive long-term EV battery goals set forth by the United States Automotive Battery Consortium, a public-private collaboration between the US Department of Energy and leading US automotive companies. If successful, new battery technologies developed under this program will give electrified light-duty vehicles range, performance, lifetime, and cost required to shift transportation energy from oil to the domestically powered US electric grid. ARPA-E’s objective is to fund high-risk, high reward research efforts that will promote leadership in this emerging EV battery market. Innovative Materials & Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies (IMPACCT). Coal-fired power plants currently generate approximately 50% of the electricity in the United States. While coal is a cheap and abundant resource, the continued reliance upon coal as an energy source could potentially have serious consequences in terms of global warming. The objective of this topic is to fund high risk, high reward research efforts that will revolutionize technologies that capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants, thereby preventing release into the atmosphere. ARPA-E seeks to complement existing DOE efforts in the field of carbon capture, led by the Office of Fossil Energy and National Energy Technology Laboratory, by accelerating promising ideas from the basic research stage towards large-scale demonstrations and ultimately, commercialization. Areas of interest include: low-cost catalysts to enable systems with superior thermodynamics that are not currently practical due to slow kinetics; robust materials that resist degradation from caustic contaminants in flue gas; and advanced capture processes that dramatically reduce the parasitic energy penalties and corresponding increase in the cost of electricity required for carbon capture. To be considered for funding, concept papers must be received by 15 January 2010 and should be submitted directly online at https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov. ### Comments Three very interesting energy related areas for research. It is so important to do all three successfully that another$100M every year may be needed for the next 10+ years.

It is interesting to consider that almost at the drop of a hat - entirely new physics would throw all these energy producing schemes/technologies into an old fashioned heap.

It is a bit like the sword of Damocles really - hanging above skeptics and alarmists alike. Rather intimidating actually.

ARPA-E requests innovative proposals which can overcome these challenges through the utilization of metabolic engineering and synthetic biological approaches for the efficient conversion of carbon dioxide to liquid transportation fuels.

ARPA-E specifically seeks the development of organisms capable of extracting energy from hydrogen, from reduced earth-abundant metal ions, from robust, inexpensive, readily available organic redo active species, or directly from electric current. Theoretically such an approach could be 10 times more efficient than current photosynthetic-biomass approaches to liquid fuel production.

This includes genetically engineered organisms.
The usual risk assessment and management issues and 'on principle' objections will be considerable.

Otherwise the supply side issues covered seem very high priority.

'Clean coal' or ccs is well described as high risk and properly could be the top candidate for 'on principle objections'.

Uncertainties including high financial risk, so no guarantee for success.
Not doing so adds to an extremely high risk of failing to mitigate climate change while maintaining or developing living standards.

We need to reverse the 2.5% pa and increasing CO2 equivalent contributions the global community is adding every year.

Sullenly - New physics seems unlikely any time soon, but an economic tipping point is likely. These expenditures may speed the arrival of that point, but it will come in any event. At that time the discussion will change.

New physics to solve these problems sounds like a drowning man grasping for the proverbial straw.

"...using microorganisms to harness chemical or electrical energy to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuels."

This sounds like a good thing, but it also sounds a lot like algae. Sun, CO2, water and nutrients combined to create fuel would be an advantage if it can be done on a VERY large scale economically.

The scale of the transportation fuel problem is huge. We can make 10 billion gallons per year and that is not even 10% of what we use. We have to rethink how we use fuel, because using less is usually the easiest and most cost effective path to saving money, cleaning the air and emitting less pollution overall.

If microbes can turn CO2 into methane, then we can use the CO2 from ethanol plants to make methane for the pipelines. The more methane we make the less natural gas that we deplete.

That works if you have surplus electricity at the same time you've got CO2 to work with.  That could be a bit tricky.  I do like the idea of taking all the carbon from the corn (and all the CO2 in biogas) and turning it into more methane.  Carbon fixation is the limiting factor of biofuels.

I don't think it's the carbon from corn that they're aiming at. More likely from coal.
Better to leave the coal in the ground (with the carbon) than release it and then try capture and re-use.
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I like Sulleny's comment. I wish it were so...that new tech's would leave old in a heap.
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More likely that simple conservation (insulating homes, driving smaller, lighter vehicles, etc) will get us to where we need to be sooner.

That is the idea at this point, making more progress sooner by prioritizing easy wins. Cellulose E85 with all new cars FFV, promoting conversions to natural gas stored as ANG. Heat recovery for hybrid big rigs. We need to find the easy wins that do the most good with less investment, we have lost 8 years and we have to catch up.

1 word Carbon Sciences...

i mean 2

also ooil.ob

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