The agency defined as "transformational" a technology that "so outperforms current approaches that it causes an industry to shift its technology base to the new technology."
The program will seek to move immature technologies with potentially high payoff beyond the "valley of death" that frequently prevents new technologies from reaching the commercial market, the solicitation stated. "We are not looking for incremental progress on current technologies," the agency added.
The new program will cover ARPA-E's key mission areas: energy security through the development of new energy technologies and maintaining the U.S. lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.
The agency said it will accept concept papers between May 12 and June 2.
The announcement coincided with a speech on Monday by President Barack Obama at the National Academy of Sciences in which he formally announced funding for ARPA-E. The agency will initially receive $400 million in economic stimulus funding.
ARPA-E anticipates that most awards will be for total project costs in the range of $2 million to $5 million. Some may be as low as $500,000 or as high as $10 million. In extremely exceptional cases, ARPA-E may choose to accept efforts up to $20 million.
The period of performance for efforts selected under this announcement is limited to no more than 36 months performance; however, ARPA-E has a strong preference for a period of performance of no more than 24 months.
No more than 25% of the ARPA-E funds may be expended by the combination of all foreign entities on the project (excluding equipment that is not available in the United States).
The recipient must provide cost share of at least 20% of the total allowable costs for R&D projects of an applied nature.
Along with the industry research solicitation, the Energy Department also announced government grants to establish 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers. Funding for that effort totals $777 million.
Potential ARPA-E Projects
A suitable project could be a project to initiate development of factory mass produced Liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) to replace coal power worldwide.
Inertial Electrostatic fusion could use more funding.
Focus Fusion (Dense plasma focus) could also use more funding.
Development of large scale uranium mining from seawater also seems ARPA-E worthy.
Submissions of Concept Papers
Opening time for submission of concept papers begins May 12, 2009. The Concept Paper closing date and time is on 2 June 2009 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Concept papers must be submitted to www.FedConnect.net at any time between the opening time and the closing time for concept paper submission. Early submission is strongly encouraged.
This FOA will appear on the FedConnect website, www.FedConnect.net, and FedBizOpps website, www.fedbizopps.gov/. The directions for completing the concept paper submission are in this FOA (Section IV). To submit the concept paper, a cover sheet (Appendix 1) is also required.
Concept papers will be reviewed as received. In cases of an extremely meritorious submission, an applicant may be contacted by fax and email (if contact information is supplied by the applicant) for early submission for a full application. Concept paper notification will indicate whether a full application based on the idea presented in the concept paper is likely to be competitive. ARPA-E anticipates informing all other applicants no later than 13 July 2009.
ARPA-E is part of a broader national energy strategy. The elements of the Administration’s Energy and Environment Agenda (www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/energy_and_environment) relevant to this FOA include:
• Reduce GHG emissions: Drive emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, and ensure 25 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025.
• Enhance Energy Security: Save more oil than the U.S. currently imports from the Middle East and Venezuela combined (more than 3.5 million barrels per day) within 10 years.
• Restore Science Leadership: Strengthen America’s role as the world leader in science and technology.
• Quickly Implement the Economic Recovery Package: Create millions of new green jobs and lay the foundation for the future.
Under this FOA, ARPA-E is seeking R&D applications for technologies that, when in wide-spread use, will make substantial, significant, quantitative contributions to these national goals and ARPA-E Mission Areas. In addition, the proposed technology when in use may not have a negative impact on any of the ARPA-E Mission Areas.