By Patricia Daukantas
New manufacturing processes for low-cost LEDs and research into generating biofuels from sunlight are among the projects that received funding in the first round of grants from the new U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The 37 recipients are splitting $151 million out of the $400 million given to ARPA-E under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also called the “stimulus bill”). The America COMPETES Act of 2007 set up ARPA-E to develop transformational energy technologies in the mold of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which brought us the Internet.
Momentive Performance Materials of Strongsville, Ohio (U.S.A.), teamed up with two other small businesses on a $4.5 million project that, to quote ARPA-E, “will develop a high-pressure ammonothermal process to produce affordable, high-quality, single-crystal GaN substrates at high crystal growth rates. This development can lead to light emitting diodes (LEDs) at costs equal to current low-cost lighting options, such as fluorescent lighting.”
Pennsylvania State University (U.S.A.) and a business partner are getting $1.9 million in ARPA-E funds to investigate direct solar fuels. ARPA-E describes their research objective as “catalyst-coated titanium dioxide nanotube membranes to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into methane and other hydrocarbon fuels.” Four other funding recipients are working on other aspects of direct-solar-fuel technology.
U.S. Energy Secretary (and OSA Honorary Member) Steven Chu will announced more ARPA-E grant winners later this fall. For more information on all the first-round recipients, visit the ARPA-E Web site.