ARPA-E Soliciting Second Round of Proposals; $100 Million for Advanced Energy Research Projects, with Focus on CO2-to-Liquid Fuels, Plug-in Batteries and Carbon Capture
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $100 million in funding for the second round of transformational energy research projects to be supported by the Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
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.