arpa-eThe U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has recently announced up to $30 million in funding for a new program that focuses on renewable energy to convert air and water into cost-competitive liquid fuels.

The program, titled Renewable Energy to Fuels through Utilization of Energy-dense Liquids (REFUEL), is aimed at developing technologies that use renewable energy to convert air and water into carbon neutral liquid fuels – which can be converted into hydrogen or electricity to provide power for sustainable transportation.

The majority of vehicles in the transportation sector depend on liquid fuels such as gasoline or diesel to operate. While liquid fuels are energy dense and can be stored for a long period of time, liquid fossil fuels emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment. These emissions account for over 20 percent of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the overall effects of climate change.

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In early December of 2015, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) penned what he deemed the “Wastebook” – a report detailing what the senator believes to be wasteful federal spending, specifically targeted at research dollars.

The report took aim at research the fiscal conservative considered a waste of federal cash, including projects he summed up as a “shrimp fight club,” a study of cows in China, an exploration of why obese women can’t get dates, and a look at shrimp on a treadmill.

Earlier this month, those very same scientists that Flake criticized and reduced their research to mere waste took to Pennsylvania Avenue to reinforce the legitimacy of their work.

Researchers respond

“I am rock solid about my research. I know it is very good,” said Sheila Patek, an associate professor of biology at Duke University who led the so-called shrimp fight club study. “But this ‘Wastebook’ targeted a short paper that was the first paper in my young graduate student’s career. He is from a long line of firefighters. His father, his uncle, his grandfather. There aren’t any other scientists in his family. They are very proud of him. He is extremely civic-minded. I don’t think I’ve had anyone in my lab like that. And this has been crushing for him.”

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Grant opportunity in Cancun

Gates Foundation logo

The goal: to enable universal access to sustainable sanitation services by supporting the development of radically new sanitation technologies as well as markets for new sanitation products and services.

ECS is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to host a multi-day workshop at the 2014 International Electrochemical Energy Summit (E2S) which takes place during the ECS and SMEQ Joint International meeting in Cancun, Mexico being held Oct. 5-9, 2014. The workshop will culminate in the distribution of over $200,000 in seed funding from ECS, addressing critical technology gaps in water, sanitation, and hygiene challenges being faced around the world.

40% of the world’s population–2.5 billion people–practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities, and the consequences can be devastating for human health as well as the environment.

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