U.S. Energy Department Announces $100-Million Solar Fuels Research Program

The U.S. Energy Department plans to invest in a five-year research program focused on producing fuels from sunlight, according to a Feb. 19 news release. The agency will establish one large or two smaller energy innovation hubs, which are “integrated multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research teams” to accelerate the fundamental scientific breakthroughs needed to enable solar fuel production.

Total planned funding will be up to $100 million for awards beginning in Fiscal Year 2020 and up to five years in duration, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. The agency said that the investment represents a continuing large-scale commitment of the nation’s scientific and technological resources to a highly competitive and promising area of investigation.

The goal of the Fuels from Sunlight Hub is to develop an artificial photosynthesis system that would generate usable fuels directly from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. The initiative is expected to build on the capabilities and accomplishments of the solar fuels research community, including work by the DOE-supported Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, Energy Frontier Research Centers, and core research programs. The agency requests applicants to focus on research priorities identified by the Roundtable on Liquid Solar Fuels held in August 2019.

Applications are due by May 27.