The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, has selected 37 forward-thinking energy research projects to receive a portion of $151 million in funding. The $151 million is part of the $400 million that ARPA-E has received from the Recovery Act.

ARPA-E received 300 applications for the initial round of funding. Ultimately, 37 research projects in 17 states received funding with 43 percent going to small businesses, 35 percent to educational research teams, and 19 percent to large corporations.

The projects that received grant money from the initial round of ARPA-E funding were separated into several different energy categories:

  • Energy Storage
  • Biomass Energy
  • Carbon Capture
  • Renewable Power
  • Direct Solar Fuels
  • Building Efficiency
  • Waste Heat Capture
  • Vehicle Technologies
  • Water
  • Conventional Energy
The technologies being researched in these projects are bold; one might even say they are a bit extreme. A research team at the University of Minnesota received $2.2 million to advance their research of direct solar hydrocarbon biofuels made from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide using bacteria as the catalyst.

Two different research teams based out of Arizona State University (ASU) have received more than $10 million from the initial round of ARPA-E funding. One team is working on an energy storage technology that could lead to long-range and low-cost batteries for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

The second ASU project team is also working with a group from North Carolina State University on direct solar fuel technology. Like the University of Minnesota team, researchers at the two universities will examine how cyanobacteria can be used to create fuel from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.

Exelus, Inc in Livingston, N.J., received a $1 million award to advance a technology that could convert a byproduct from oil refineries into usable fuel. This could lead to the recovery of 45 million barrels of gasoline on an annual basis.

Although the initial project awards were just announced yesterday, details about the second round of ARPA-E funding will be made available in the coming months.

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