The US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced up to $60m in funding for two new programs that aim to solve some of the nation's most pressing energy challenges by accelerating the development of novel energy technologies.
The first program, NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated on-Road vehicles (NEXTCAR) seeks to develop new technologies that decrease energy consumption of future vehicles through the use of connectivity and automation. The second program, Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) seeks to improve crop breeding for root and soil function to allow for greater carbon storage in plants.
"We must continue to invest in programs that encourage the scientific community to think boldly and differently about our nation’s energy future," said ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams. "The NEXTCAR program’s focus on exploiting automation to improve energy efficiency in future vehicles and the ROOTS program’s exploration of carbon capture using crops demonstrate ARPA-E’s unique and forward looking approach to energy innovation."
NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated on-Road-vehicles (NEXTCAR)
Significant research and development is underway to make future vehicles more connected and automated in order to reduce road accidents and traffic fatalities, but these technologies can also be leveraged to improve energy efficiency in future vehicles. The NEXTCAR program is providing up to $30 million in funding to create new control technologies that reduce the energy consumption of future vehicles by using connectivity and vehicle automation. The program seeks transformative technological solutions that will enable at least a 20 percent reduction in the energy consumption of future Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), compared to vehicles without these technologies.
Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS)
Improving the ability for plants to store carbon in the soil has the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. The ROOTS program is making up to $30 million in funding available to pursue technologies that develop new crop breeding approaches for improved root and soil function that will help plants to store more carbon in the ground and take up nutrients and water more efficiently. ROOTS seeks to develop novel technologies that measure root and soil function and advance predictive models that accelerate the selection and development of plants with more favorable root and soil traits. These technologies could greatly improve crops and production systems that increase carbon storage, water productivity, and fertilizer efficiency which reduces the emissions of another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.