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DOE to provide $22M for research on capturing carbon dioxide from air

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $22 million for research aimed at achieving breakthroughs in the effort to capture carbon dioxide directly from ambient air (DAC).

The initiative encompasses two concurrent funding announcements—one by DOE’s Office of Science (SC) (LAB 20-2303) and another by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) (DE-FOA-0002188)—and will span the spectrum from fundamental research in materials and chemical sciences to field testing of prototypes.

Accelerating success in direct air capture of carbon dioxide would strengthen America’s energy security and open new avenues for commercial applications. While we’ve seen real progress in this field, both basic and applied research are needed to develop highly effective direct air capture technologies on a large scale.

—Dr. Chris Fall, Director of DOE’s Office of Science

For the SC funding opportunity, the DOE National Laboratories are invited to submit proposals for breakthrough fundamental research in materials and chemical sciences. Applicants are encouraged to find partners at universities, National Laboratories, and other institutions. Awards are expected for both small groups and larger multidisciplinary teams.

In its funding announcement, SC noted that a few technically feasible DAC approaches have emerged in the last two decades and have matured to the stage of pilot-scale testing and commercialization for a widening application space.

These are based on solid or liquid sorbents, and employ swing cycles in temperature, pressure, or humidity. These and similar approaches are debated on bases of potential cost, scaling, and life-cycle attributes.

It is widely acknowledged that basic research is important to expand the scope of DAC approaches and hence to provide new opportunities for technology breakthroughs that will improve the effectiveness and drive down costs. Beyond the discovery of new paradigms that lead to such breakthroughs, there is a concurrent need for basic research that attains a fundamental understanding of temporal changes that occur in separation systems.

The FE funding opportunity announcement focuses on both the applied development of new materials and the field testing of prototypes. Eligible applicants include universities, nonprofits, and industry, with a 20% cost share.

SC plans to provide a total of $12 million for projects three years in duration, with $4 million in Fiscal Year 2020 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. FE will provide $10 million in FY 2020 funds for projects from 2 to 3 years in duration.

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