Chu Announces $100M for Riskier Alt-Energy Research

Dec 9 2009 | 10:21am ET

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who believes ending the country’s dependency on fossil fuels requires out-of-the-box thinking, has announced $100 million in funding for riskier biofuel, carbon capture and battery projects.

Chu said this second ARPA-E funding round focuses on “three cutting-edge technology areas which could have a transformational impact.”

ARPA-E’s first solicitation, announced earlier this year, was highly competitive and resulted in the funding of 37 projects aimed at transformational innovations in energy storage, biofuels, carbon capture, renewable power, building efficiency, vehicles and other areas. 

This funding round will focus on three areas:

Electrofuels: Funding 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. The goal is to “develop an entirely new paradigm for the production of liquid fuels that could overcome the challenges associated with current technologies.”

Carbon Capture: Funding high-risk, high-reward research to “revolutionize” carbon capture technologies. 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.

Batteries: Funding ultra-high energy density, low-cost battery technologies for long electric range plug in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs).

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