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ARPA-E Announces Macroalgae Funding Opportunity

December 16, 2016

ARPA-E today announced up to $25 million in funding for a new program to significantly expand the opportunities to produce macroalgae as an economically viable, renewable feedstock for biofuel and energy applications.

ARPA-E’sMacroAlgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program will develop innovative cultivation and harvest systems and additional supporting tools necessary to produce macroalgae biomass at a scale required for fuel production and at a cost competitive with land-based biofuel feedstocks. If successful, MARINER is expected to deploy new technologies to help bolster U.S. energy security and diversify U.S. fuel sources. 

Macroalgae, also referred to as seaweed, are a set of exceptionally diverse multicellular, non-vascular marine plants. Beyond the most common applications of direct human consumption and food additives, there are additional opportunities for large-scale use of macroalgae in the production of fuels and chemicals. The current state of macroalgae mariculture, however, is not capable of scaling to support a seaweed-to-fuels industry.

The MARINER program seeks to increase macroalgae yield and expand into off-shore environments to increase the areas of deployment by two orders of magnitude above current global levels, all while significantly reducing cost. These transformational technologies could potentially enable a U.S.-based macroalgae industry capable of producing up to two quads—approximately 2 percent of U.S. primary energy consumption—of bioenergy by 2050, without competing for freshwater or farmland currently dedicated to food production.

ARPA-E encourages outstanding scientists, engineers, and practitioners from different organizations, scientific disciplines, and technology sectors to form new project teams for the MARINER program. ARPA-E believes that interdisciplinary and cross-organizational collaborations can facilitate scientific and technological discoveries that a single group alone would not be able to achieve.  

The deadline to submit a Concept Paper for MARINER is 5 p.m. ET on February 14, 2017.  Additional information, including the full FOA and how to find project teaming partners, is available on ARPA-E’s online application portal, ARPA-E eXCHANGE.