The aim with ARPA-E isn't to make a bet on energy winners or losers, but to fund basic research and support development of innovative technologies that are "swinging for the fences," as DOE Scretary Steven Chu put it in a recent statement.
ARPA-E's first funding opportunity OPEN 2009 was issued as an open call to America's top scientists and engineers for transformation energy technology solutions. Some of the selected projects have made a mark, such as a demonstration of the world's first 400 eWh/kg lithium-ion battery; a wind turbine inspired by the design of jet engines that can deliver 300 percent more power than existing turbines of the same size and cost; and engineering a high-power laser drilling system that can cut through hard rock formations and is 10 times more economical than conventional drilling tech, the DOE said.
This year, the funds will go to projects equally ambitious. You can check out the complete list here. All of the projects are ambitious. Here are a few that stand out:
- $1.8 million to researchers at Plant Sensory Systems who will produce an enhanced energy beet for biofuel production;
- $2.9 million to Electron Energy Corporation to develop technology to make stronger low-cost permanent magnets to supply the wind turbine generator and electric vehicle motor markets;
- $3.8 million to Grid Logic to develop low-cost superconducting wire for electric utility applications. The wire would cut the cost of transmission lines, motors for wind turbines and other electric devices.
- $4 million to the University of Washington to develop microbes that convert methane in natural gas into liquid diesel fuel.
- $2.4 million to CalTECH to develop an optical device that focuses and splits sunlight into individual color bands to improve the efficiency of solar electricity generation. The tech could dramatically improve the overall efficiency of solar energy conversion.
Photo: Flickr user zzzack, CC 2.0