The Energy Department on March 22 announced that approximately $40 million from its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will be made available for two new programs to develop technologies that shift U.S. cars and trucks from reliance on oil. One program will develop cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals that could help make lighter vehicles. The second program will develop biological technologies that will improve the conversion of natural gas to liquids for transportation fuels, that can reduce vehicle emissions compared to conventional gasoline engines.
The Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) program, which has $20 million in available funding, will develop innovative technologies for cost-effective processing and recycling of aluminum, magnesium, and titanium. These metals have high strength-to-weight ratios that make them ideal for creating lighter vehicles that can save fuel and reduce carbon emissions. Utilizing domestically available ores and reducing energy inputs and emissions from processing can make light metals cost-competitive with current materials, such as steel. METALS will also develop technologies for rapid and efficient light metal sorting to enable domestic recycling. See the funding opportunity announcement.
The Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE) program, which has $20 million in available funding, will develop transformational biological technologies to convert gas to liquids for transportation fuels. Using unique biological conversion methods, REMOTE will develop innovative catalysts and lab scale reactors to efficiently convert natural gas. Current gas-to-liquids approaches are technologically complex and require large, capital-intensive facilities, which limit widespread adoption. This program aims to lower the cost of gas-to-liquids conversion while enabling the use of low cost, domestically sourced natural gas for transportation, and reduce vehicle emissions compared to conventional gasoline engines. See the funding opportunity announcement.
ARPA-E was launched in 2009 to seek out transformational, breakthrough technologies that show fundamental technical promise but are too early for private-sector investment. These projects have the potential to produce major breakthroughs in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and have large commercial impacts. To date, ARPA-E has funded 285 projects across 33 states, with $770 million in funding.