On December 7th, while many of us were in NYC at the Livingston Nanotechnology Conference, Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy announced that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding will be used to support a second, $100M round of awards to be made early next year. Preliminary proposals are being accepted through 5 p.m. EST on January 15th, 2010.
Unlike the broad first-round solicitation, the current Funding Opportunity Announcements call for game-changing ideas in just three specific areas. The good news is that two of these areas are natural fits for the nanotechnology community:
This announcement calls for proposals to develop inexpensive, ultrahigh energy density batteries specifically for electric vehicles, to help shift our transportation energy supply from oil to the mix of mostly domestic sources that powers our electric grid. The key system-level specs, derived from the "aggressive long term goals" of the U.S.Automotive Battery Consortium (USABC), are mass energy density exceeding 200 Wh/kg, volumetric energy density exceeding 200 Wh/liter, and cost below $250/kW. Note that improvements to conventional Li-Ion cells or other technologies receiving R&D funding from DOE's Office of Vehicle Technology or USABC are specifically excluded. Instead, the agency is looking for alternative materials to replace carbon-based anodes and Li-intercalation cathodes; new architectures; and manufacturing approaches that go beyond the current slurry coating based process.
This announcement is aimed at cleaning up the coal-fired power plants that currently meet half our country's electricity needs by developing innovative ideas for capturing carbon emissions. Proposers should show that their innovative materials or new capture processes are ready to move beyond the basic research stage while laying out a development plan that will change the economics of carbon capture. Specific interests include low-cost catalysts and materials that can tolerate exposure to caustic flue gas. This program is meant to complement more conventional Carbon Capture and Sequestration development efforts sponsored by DOE's Office of Fossil Energy.
Some of you may also have expertise in metabolic engineering or synthetic biology, the technologies identified as appropriate for this third FOA. Here the agency is looking to lessen our dependence on oil and reduce carbon emissions by using microorganisms to convert carbon dioxide to liquid transportation fuels, with chemical or electrical energy as an input but without using petroleum or biomass.
For all three topics, the mandatory preliminary proposal consists of a concept paper limited to five pages, plus one budget page. Projects should last 24 to 36 months, and can request $1/2 Million to $10 Million. Cost-sharing is mandatory (20% for most entities, 10% for universities); in-kind contributions are acceptable but money is preferred. Further information can be found on the ARPA-E Web site.