Skip to Content

New Ways to Make Renewable Diesel Fuel

DOE plans to fund research into organisms that make fuel without photosynthesis.
December 7, 2009

When the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) requested proposals for its first round of funding, it received thousands of them, but only 43 received any cash. Some of the other proposals will get a second chance in another funding round focused on three interesting areas of research, which Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today.

The first is research into something called “electrofuels,” which the agency describes as a “new paradigm for the production of liquid fuels.” The idea is to engineer organisms that can convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuels such as diesel, but not through photosynthesis. It sounds a little convoluted. First you take energy from the sun and use it to produce hydrogen, electricity, or some other “energy carrier.” Engineered organisms then use this energy to convert carbon dioxide into fuel. The hope is that this will prove more efficient than photosynthesis.

I’m working on a story that will have more detail on this approach to making fuels; I hope to get it up on the website this week.

The agency will also be funding research into cheap, high energy batteries and into carbon dioxide capture from coal fired power plants. The first round also funded some projects in this area.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.