Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

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.

Want to go ad free? No ad blockers needed.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.