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

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

seeing is believing concept
seeing is believing concept

Our brains exist in a state of “controlled hallucination”

Three new books lay bare the weirdness of how our brains process the world around us.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

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.