DoE Announces Funding For 37 Clean Energy Projects

Oct 28 2009 | 12:25pm ET

U.S. Energy Secretary Chu this week announced the first $151 million in grant funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). 

Speaking at the headquarters of Google Inc. in Mountain View, California, Chu announced support for 37 projects that “span the spectrum” from renewable energy, to energy storage, to industrial and building efficiency, to petroleum-free vehicles and carbon capture.

The projects were selected from nearly 3,700 submissions. “We invited about 300 of those to put together full proposals,” said Chu. “Today, we are funding 37 projects – 1% of the submissions.  To reach these decisions, more than 500 expert reviewers put in nearly 8,700 hours of work – or 4.2 person-years of effort.”

Projects include what Chu called “out-of-the-box” approaches, like symbiotic bacteria producing gasoline-like fuels from sunlight; an all-liquid metal battery;  a building efficiency system using sensors and software; and a new way to capture carbon dioxide from power plants “inspired by the enzyme the human body uses to capture carbon dioxide generated by cells, transport it in the blood stream and exhale it through the lungs.”

Chu termed the ideas both “potentially revolutionary” and “risky” and admitted many would not pan out.

“But this is high-risk, high reward research: if even one or two of these ideas become transformative technologies the next transistor or another Green Revolution this will be among the best investments we’ve ever made.”

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