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Project Count:

Program Description:

In 2009, ARPA-E issued an open call for the most revolutionary energy technologies to form the agency's inaugural program. The first open solicitation was open to ideas from all energy areas and focused on funding projects already equipped with strong research and development plans for their potentially high-impact technologies. The projects chosen received a level of financial support that could accelerate technical progress and catalyze additional investment from the private sector. After only 2 months, ARPA-E's investment in these projects catalyzed an additional $33 million in investments. In response to ARPA-E's first open solicitation, more than 3,700 concept papers flooded into the new agency, which were thoroughly reviewed by a team of 500 scientists and engineers in just 6 months. In the end, 36 projects were selected as ARPA-E's first award recipients, receiving $176 million in federal funding.

Innovation Need:

ARPA-E is the first government agency focused exclusively on funding high-risk, high-reward energy technologies. It selects all projects based on their impact on the agency’s mission to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy imports, cut energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency across all sectors of the U.S. economy, and maintain U.S. leadership in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies. The projects chosen for ARPA-E’s inaugural program were eventually grouped into 10 diverse technology areas: biomass energy, building efficiency, carbon capture, conventional energy, direct solar fuels, energy storage, renewable power, vehicle technologies, waste-heat capture, and water. Many of ARPA-E’s first projects helped shape future agency programs dedicated to these technology areas.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the game-changing projects from the first open solicitation would help ARPA-E achieve its mission and ensure the U.S. maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.


Increased access to and use of domestically produced renewable energy would help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increase our nation’s energy security.


Developing new and renewable sources of energy would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels that create harmful greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to global warming.


Cheaper sources of energy would help the millions of American consumers and small business owners who can’t afford the energy they need to live and work.


Program Director:
Multiple Program Directors manage this program. For specific PD information please refer to the project slick sheet.
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Project Listing

1366 Technologies - Cost-Effective Silicon Wafers for Solar Cells
Agrivida - Engineering Enzymes in Energy Crops
Algaeventure Systems (AVS) - Fuel from Algae
Arizona State University (ASU) - Turning Bacteria into Fuel
Arizona State University (ASU) - Metal-Air Electric Vehicle Battery
Bio Architecture Lab - Macroalgae Butanol
Ceres - Improving Biomass Yields
Delphi Automotive Systems - More Efficient Power Conversion for EVs
EaglePicher Technologies - Sodium-Beta Batteries for Grid-Scale Storage
Envia Systems - Long-Range Electric Vehicle Batteries
Exelus - High-Octane Fuel from Refinery Exhaust Gas
FastCAP Systems - High Energy Density Ultracapacitors
FloDesign Wind Turbine - Mixer-Ejector Wind Turbine
Foro Energy - Laser-Mechanical Drilling for Geothermal Energy
General Electric (GE) Global Research - Nanocomposite Magnets
General Motors (GM) - Waste Heat Recovery System
Inorganic Specialists - Long-Range Li-Ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles
Iowa State University (ISU) - Optimized Breeding of Microalgae for Biofuels
ITN Energy Systems - Electrochromic Film for More Efficient Windows
Kohana Technologies - Dynamically Adjustable Wind Turbine Blades
Lehigh University - CO2 Capture Using Electric Fields
Makani Power - Airborne Wind Turbine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Electroville: Grid-Scale Batteries
Michigan State University (MSU) - Shockwave Engine
Nalco - Using Enzymes to Capture CO2 in Smokestacks
NanOasis Technologies - Use of Carbon Nanotubes for Efficient Reverse Osmosis
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Solar Conversion of CO2 and Water Vapor to Hydrocarbon Fuels
Phononic Devices - Improved Thermoelectric Devices
Porifera - Carbon Nanotube Membranes
Research Triangle Institute (RTI) - Biofuels from Pyrolysis
Soraa - Ammonothermal Growth of GaN Substrates for LEDs
Stanford University - Behavioral Initiatives for Energy Efficiency
Sun Catalytix - Energy from Water and Sunlight
Teledyne Scientific & Imaging - Efficient Solar Concentrators
The Ohio State University - Syngas into Fuel
United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) - Using Synthetic Enzymes for Carbon Capture
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Cost-Effective Solar Thermal Energy Storage
University of Delaware (UD) - Affordable Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
University of Delaware (UD) - High-Energy Composite Permanent Magnets
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) - Silicon-Based Thermoelectrics
University of Minnesota (UMN) - Biofuel from Bacteria and Sunlight