The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has awarded $9.3 million to UF for two projects focusing on renewable energy.
In the High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) category, a project titled
"Thermal Fuel: Solar Thermochemical Fuel Production via a Novel Low Pressure, Magnetically Stabilized, Non-volatile Iron Oxide Looping Process" was awarded $2,975,920.
The project was headed by James Klausner, a professor in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Klausner said the goal of the project is to develop the science and technology to use solar energy to convert water and recycled carbon dioxide into liquid fuels.
To do that, scientists will collect and concentrate solar energy to drive a reaction that splits water to produce hydrogen and splits carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide.
The reaction produces Syngas, which can be converted to liquid fuel using a metallic catalyst.
"The process provides a route to a truly renewable fuel," Klausner said, because its only inputs are solar energy, water and carbon dioxide.
Another project, "Commercial Production of Terpene Biofuels in Pine," in the Plants Engineered to Replace Oil (PETRO) category, received $6,367,276 to increase the production of turpentine, a natural biofuel produced by pine trees, according to ARPA-E's website.
By increasing the trees' turpentine storage capacity and increasing turpentine production from 3 percent to 20 percent, researchers will create a sustainable domestic biofuel source.