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ARPA-E to Fund Vehicle Metals, Bio Gas Conversion Research

Cheryl Martin, ARPA-E deputy director (U.S. Department of Energy)

Cheryl Martin, ARPA-E deputy director (U.S. Department of Energy)

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) in the U.S. Department of Energy is making $40 million available for two new research programs involving transportation. Half of the $40 million will go for research to make lighter metals in cars and trucks more feasible, while the remaining $20 million will support biological conversion of methane gas to liquids for transportation fuels.

“Breakthroughs in these areas could transform America’s energy economy, says ARPA-E’s deputy director Cheryl Martin, “by enhancing advanced manufacturing and utilizing domestic energy sources to power our vehicles, and reducing carbon pollution and other harmful emissions.”

ARPA-E’s Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) program aims to develop technologies for processing and recycling of aluminum, magnesium, and titanium, metals with high strength-to-weight ratios that make them attractive for lighter vehicles that can save fuel and reduce carbon emissions.

The agency is seeking new technologies for producing these metals that reduce energy consumption, use renewable energy sources, extract domestic rather than imported ores, and capture and store heat from the production process. Solutions for fast and precise automated sorting of scrap aluminum, magnesium, and titanium are also sought.

ARPA-E’s Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE) program supports development new catalysts and lab scale reactors for the biological conversion of methane gas to liquids for transportation fuels. Current processes for converting gas to liquids are complex and require large, capital-intensive facilities, which limit their adoption. The program is seeking expertise in methane activation to an intermediate biological product, biological carbon-carbon bond formation and fuel synthesis, and biological process engineering and intensification.

Funding announcements for these programs are available on the ARPA-E Web site. Lists of organizations seeking partners for bid submissions are also available.

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