ARPA-E recently added five new topics to the “Solicitation on Topics Informing New Program Areas,” a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001953) that enables ARPA-E to investigate potential new program areas. The program is designed to support early stage, transformative energy technologies.
New topics; approximate total amount to be awarded; and anticipated awards include:
Insulating Nanofluids and Solids to Upgrade our Large Aging Transformer Equipment (INSULATE); $3.5 million; 1-5 awards
Mining Incinerated Disposal Ash Streams (MIDAS); $4.04 million; 1-5 awards
Waste into X (WiX); $5.0 million; 5-10 awards
Direct Removal of Carbon Dioxide from Oceanwater (DOC); $2.0 million; 1-5 awards
Direct Removal of Carbon Dioxide from Ambient Air (DAC); $2.0 million; 1-5 awards
INSULATE. The objective of this topic is to explore solutions related to increasing the life expectancy of the transformer, including: (i) high-performance solid insulation materials, (ii) advanced insulating fluids with improved dielectric strength, thermal conductivity, and aging performance, and (iii) Kraft paper rejuvenating additives.
MIDAS. The global demand for critical materials (CMs) and other metals continues to grow while their production from primary ore resources is limited. The CMs list provided by the US Department of the Interior (DOI) includes Rare Earth Elements (REEs) consisting of the Lanthanide series (La-Lu) as well as yttrium and scandium, Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), cobalt, fluorspar (CaF2), manganese, niobium, tin, among others. Other metals of interest to ARPA-E are copper, gold, silver, and nickel.
With nearly 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated globally, this feedstock may constitute the largest resource for the recovery of CMs and other metals. ARPA-E believes we may be amid a complete paradigm shift on how we view MSW, no longer as trash but as an abundant and sustainable source of energy and valuable elements like Al, Cu, Pt, Ag, Au, In, Nd, Pr, etc. The challenge is to economically reclaim these elements.
Schematic showing the solid streams in ARPA-E’s conceptualization of zero waste going to landfill. ESP stands for electrostatic precipitator. ARPA-E.
WiX. The broad objective of the WiX topic is to explore (i) real-time, cost-effective characterization techniques for the Municipal Solid Waste Incineration (MSWI) ash output stream, (ii) the feasibility of adding co-feeds to waste pre-combustion, or to the MSWI ash post-combustion to yield a consistent product independent of MSW composition variability, and (iii) cost-competitive technologies for the upcycling of MSWI ash fractions into novel valorized products.
DOC. The removal of CO2 from oceanwater (or other natural waters), or direct ocean capture (DOC), is one method of capturing dispersed CO2. In some cases, DOC can be advantageous relative to other emissions mitigation and negative emissions strategies.
In comparison to removal of CO2 from the ambient air, or direct air capture (DAC), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) exists at a higher volumetric concentration, meaning smaller volumes of fluid can move through the system per unit carbon removed. DOC also has the potential to operate offshore.
Offshore operation limits competition for useful land, can allow access to oceanic CO2 storage sites currently only reachable by pipeline, and can provide a source of CO2 for offshore enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
Finally, DOC represents a direct reversal of ocean acidification caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions. However, operation in an oceanic environment also includes specific challenges, such as corrosion, ecological considerations, potentially high capital and operating expenditures due to offshore implementation, and the like. All applicants should identify which of these challenges are applicable to their technology, and how they would mitigate these risks.
DAC. Direct removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, sometimes referred to as direct air capture (DAC), is the separation of CO2 at ambient concentration (about 410 parts per million by volume fraction (ppmv)) from air. In some cases, DAC can be advantageous relative to other emissions mitigation and negative emissions strategies. In comparison to removal of CO2 from point sources, DAC has the advantage of being location-independent. In comparison to negative emissions strategies that use biomass, DAC systems do not compete with agriculture for land.
ARPA-E seeks to establish robust, energy efficient, and low-cost strategies for direct removal of carbon dioxide from ambient air.
Full applications for these five topics are due at 9:30 AM ET on 22 July 2020.