US Energy Dept seeks breakthrough electrochemical research

25 November 2013 21:36  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A high-tech US Department of Energy (DOE) research unit on Monday said it will provide up to $30m (€22m) in funding for breakthrough developments in electrochemical technologies aimed at low-cost distributed power generation.

The department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) said it would accept concept papers for research grants until the close of business on 8 January 2014.

ARPA-E said it was looking for project proposals “focused on the development of transformational electrochemical technologies to enable low-cost distributed power generation”.

The candidate projects most suited for research grants would be focused on developing “fuel cell technology for distributed power generation to improve grid stability, increase energy security and balance intermittent renewable technologies while reducing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with current distributed generation systems”.

ARPA-E was established by Congress to identify and fund paradigm-changing research and scientific applications that could bring major advances in energy generation, use or conservation.

ARPA-E is patterned on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), established by the US Defense Department in 1958 to stimulate and coordinate academic, commercial and military research and development (R&D) in national security and space exploration, among other goals. 

Among results of that 1960s-era effort was the US space programme and development of DARPA-net, a multi-institutional data-sharing computer network that eventually became the Internet.

The goal of its research funding, according to ARPA-E, is to provide support for proposals that would pose “transformational” energy concepts and which otherwise might not attract private-sector venture capital.

“Transformational technologies” are defined by APRA-E as those that “disrupt the status quo” and are so significantly better than current technology as to trigger a paradigm shift in conventional operations and practice.

Among other qualifying criteria, the winning projects must be brought to fruition or ended within two years, three at the most. This ensures that there will be no long-running but ultimately fruitless undertakings that would continue to consume federal funding for decades.

Further details on the current ARPA-E funding opportunity are available at the agency’s website.

($1 = €0.74)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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