U.S. Department of Energy

    DOE Awards $151 Million in Recovery Act Funding for ARPA-E Projects

    October 28, 2009

    DOE awarded $151 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds on October 26 for 37 energy research projects under the recently-formed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy ("ARPA-E"). ARPA-E's mission is to develop inventive approaches to transform the global energy landscape while advancing U.S. technology leadership by creating jobs and cutting carbon pollution. This first round of grants will go to researchers and inventors in 17 states and will support the research and development of new renewable energy technologies for solar cells, wind turbines, geothermal drilling, biofuels, and biomass energy crops. The grants will also support a variety of energy efficiency technologies, including power electronics and engine-generators for advanced vehicles, devices for waste heat recovery, electrically controlled windows and control systems for smart buildings, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), reverse-osmosis membranes for water desalination, catalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, improved fuel cell membranes, and more energy-dense magnetic materials for a variety of electronic components. Six grants will go to energy storage technologies, including an ultracapacitor, improved lithium-ion batteries, metal-air batteries that use ionic liquids, liquid sodium batteries, and liquid metal batteries.

    "With ARPA-E, we are swinging from the heels and trying to hit home runs, not just base hits. The 37 projects we're funding span the spectrum—from renewable energy, to energy storage, to industrial and building efficiency, to petroleum-free vehicles, and carbon capture," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

    Some specific examples of ARPA-E grants include a large-scale liquid metal battery, under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Based on low-cost, domestically available liquid metals, the battery could lead to the mass adoption of large-scale energy storage as part of the nation's energy grid. At the University of Minnesota, researchers have developed a bioreactor that has the potential to produce gasoline directly from sunlight and carbon dioxide, using a symbiotic system of two organisms. And Momentive Performance Materials will be investigating a novel crystal growth technology to lower the cost of light emitting diodes (LEDs), which are 30 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and four times more efficient than compact fluorescents.

    ARPA-E was inspired by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and aims to support high-risk, high-reward energy research that can provide transformative new solutions for climate change and energy security. More than 3,600 initial ARPA-E concept papers were submitted to a competitive merit review by experts. A second set of ARPA-E funding opportunities will be announced later this fall. See the DOE press releases on the ARPA-E awards and Secretary Chu's comments, the ARPA-E Web site, and the list of projects (PDF 50 KB). Download Adobe Reader.