$100 Million in Stimulus Funds for Green Tech

04/03/2010 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

The Department of Energy announced this week that $100 million in stimulus funds would be distributed to help accelerate innovation in green technology.

“The idea is to get a whole ecosystem of innovative technologies,” said Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which is managing the program.

The department has designated three areas of focus for the projects: energy storage, electrical power technology and thermodevices.

In energy storage, Dr. Majumdar is looking for proposals for new kinds of batteries or other media that can store gigawatts of power capacity for short periods at a low cost.

“Wind is sometimes on and sometimes off; you can’t predict it,” he said. “This intermittency is bad for the grid, when you can not fully utilize a renewable source.”

Electrical power technology projects might include micro-inverters for photovoltaics, which can convert the direct current from a solar cell into alternating current, and more efficient power supplies for computers.

In the area of thermodevices, he is most  interested in proposals to improve the energy usage of air-conditioners — “particularly in cooling technology that does not use refrigerants like HFC’s,” or hydrofluorocarbons, a potent category of greenhouse gases commonly used as an air-conditioner coolant.

Traditionally, Department of Energy grants go to projects that see a high success rate, but this will likely not be the case with the ARPA-Energy grants, said Paul Bledsoe, director of strategy and communications at the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group of energy experts.

“The success rate will be necessarily lower, because they are asking innovators to come up with truly innovative ideas,” he said. “ARPA-E. is looking for home-run balls, really game changers.”

Dr. Majumdar said anyone could apply for the newly announced grants, and expressed hope that researchers from companies, labs and universities would form interdisciplinary partnerships.

“Those are the best teams, when scientists and engineers — people from different disciplines come together to innovate,” he said.

This is the third time ARPA-E has solicited proposals.

The first round financed 37 projects focusing on energy storage, renewable power, and building efficiency, among other topics.

The grant winners, announced in October, included a project by Penn State researchers to build nanotube membranes that use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to methane, and one by a Colorado company, ITN Energy Systems, to create smart windows that improve heating and cooling efficiency in buildings.

Winners from the second round have not been announced, but awards will go to projects focusing on biofuels, carbon capture and batteries for electric vehicles.

Applicants interested in the latest round must submit concept papers by April 2. (Further information is available here.)

Source: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/100-million-in-stimulus-funds-for-green-tech/

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Entry filed under: Green technology, Renewable Energy.

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