DOE announces $156 million for applied research and development projects to drive industrial decarbonization

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced a $156 million funding opportunity that will advance high impact applied research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the U.S. industrial sector. The FOA, led by EERE’s Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO), will drive innovation to develop the next-generation technologies required to decarbonize industry, revitalize American manufacturing, create good-paying jobs, and improve community health.

Decarbonizing the industrial sector is critical to achieving the nation’s climate goals. In 2020, the industrial sector accounted for 33% of the nation’s primary energy use and 30% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The industrial sector is also one of the most complex due to the wide diversity of energy inputs, processes, and operations. Achieving net-zero emissions across the U.S. economy by 2050 will require an aggressive, multidimensional approach to eliminating industrial emissions.

Some technologies needed to fully decarbonize the industrial sector are in early stages of development, while others are much closer to commercialization. Rooted in the principles identified in the 2022 Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap, this investment is part of the innovation pipeline DOE is building to accelerate the development and adoption of industrial decarbonization technologies. This funding opportunity also represents follow-on investment to the $104 million funding opportunity released last September. In contrast to that announcement, this FOA focuses on the variety of cross-sector approaches to industrial decarbonization, and advances the goal of the Industrial Heat Shot™, which aims to develop cost-competitive industrial heat decarbonization technologies with at least 85% lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The FOA also compliments DOE’s recently released $6 billion funding opportunity for the Industrial Demonstrations Program.

IEDO’s efforts in this area are part of DOE’s new Technologies for Industrial Emissions Reduction Development (TIEReD) Program which leverages resources across DOE’s applied research offices to invest in fundamental science, research, development, initial pilot-scale demonstrations projects, and technical assistance and workforce development.

The FOA includes the following topics:

Topic 1: Decarbonizing Industrial Heat — In support of DOE’s Industrial Heat Shot™ this topic will focus on developing equipment to decarbonize thermal processes across the industrial sector, with potential areas of interest including: electrification of industrial heat; innovative low- and no-heat processes, and industrial heat pumps.

Topic 2: Low-Carbon Fuels Utilization RD&D —This topic will focus on innovations to develop equipment capable of utilizing low-carbon fuels, like hydrogen and hydrogen blends, with potential areas of interest including: mitigating hydrogen combustion impacts on material and product quality; developing hydrogen-based combustion systems; and low-carbon input, flexible combined heat and power (CHP).

Topic 3: Exploratory Cross-Sector R&D – This topic will include emerging R&D areas for technologies and materials that enable industrial decarbonization.

  • Subtopic 3a: Enabling Flexible Industrial Energy Use — This subtopic will focus on emerging transformational technologies that maintain manufacturing resilience and economic competitiveness while integrating renewable energy into industrial manufacturing processes. Potential areas of interest include industrial load flexibility and thermal energy storage systems.
  • Subtopic 3b: Enhanced Thermal Conductivity Materials —This subtopic, funded by the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO), will focus on enhanced thermal conductivity materials to improve the performance and efficiency of electrified thermal processing equipment.

Topic 4: Decarbonizing Chemicals — This topic will focus on decarbonization technologies for high-volume chemicals with significant CO2 emissions, including advanced separations processes, advanced reactor systems, and dynamic catalyst science.

Topic 5: Decarbonizing Iron and Steel —This topic will focus on decarbonization opportunities in iron and steel production, with potential areas of interest including: innovative manufacturing technologies to enable decarbonization; electrification of existing manufacturing processes; overcoming challenges associated with utilizing hydrogen in steelmaking; and addressing scrap contaminants in recycling.

Topic 5: Decarbonizing Iron and Steel —This topic will focus on decarbonization opportunities in iron and steel production, with potential areas of interest including: innovative manufacturing technologies to enable decarbonization; electrification of existing manufacturing processes; overcoming challenges associated with utilizing hydrogen in steelmaking; and addressing scrap contaminants in recycling.

Topic 6: Decarbonizing Food and Beverage Products — This topic will focus on low- and zero-carbon solutions for process heating, cooling, and refrigeration in a wide variety of energy-intensive food and beverage operations.

Topic 7: Decarbonizing Cement and Concrete — This topic will focus on addressing cement’s direct process emissions, with potential areas of interest including: sustainably sourced supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) for clinker substitutions and blended cements; novel decarbonized production processes for Portland cement or lime; novel, low-carbon non-ordinary Portland cement formulations; and CO2 mineralization.

Topic 8: Decarbonizing Forest Products — This topic will focus on decarbonization opportunities in energy-intensive drying, paper forming, and pulping processes.

Learn more about this FOA.

Concept papers are due April 17, 2023, at 5:00pm ET, and full applications are due June 23, 2023, at 5:00pm ET. EERE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately three years. Updates will be posted on the EERE Exchange website

‘This was an epic disaster’: Ohio sues Norfolk Southern over East Palestine train derailment

Read the full story from the Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio is suing Norfolk Southern Railway after one of its trains derailed in East Palestine with toxic chemicals on board, Attorney General Dave Yost announced Tuesday.

The 58-count lawsuit filed in federal court is the strongest rebuke of Norfolk Southern since a train spilled hazardous materials into the air, water and soil on Feb. 3, rattling the small village of 4,700 along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Five of the derailed cars contained vinyl chloride, which the railroad later vented and burned to prevent an explosion.

Facing drought, Western states seek to deny groundwater to foreigners

Read the full story at Stateline.

As the American West battles its worst megadrought in over 1,200 years, state elected officials throughout the region are rethinking how groundwater is used and who gets access to it — with some even targeting foreign-owned companies.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Arizona, California, Texas, Utah and Washington state are considering legislation that aims to protect their states’ water supplies by banning foreign companies from owning or leasing land. Elsewhere in the United States, state lawmakers have rushed to try to ban foreign companies, especially from China after the recent spy balloon saga, from owning land — primarily for national security reasons.

Read more Stateline coverage of how communities across the West are grappling with drought that’s worsening because of climate change.

National Audubon Society, pressured to remove slave-owning naturalist’s name, keeps it

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The National Audubon Society, one of the country’s best-known bird conservation organizations, decided in a closed-door vote this week to retain the name of John James Audubon, famed 19th-century naturalist and wildlife illustrator who was also an unabashed enslaver.

The move comes even as about half-a-dozen of the organization’s regional chapters have pledged to scrub his name from their titles, part of a broader reckoning over the U.S. environmental movement’s history of entrenched racism.

DOE launches Microbattery Design Prize

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the launch of the Microbattery Design Prize. This two-stage competition will award up to $1.1 million in federal funding and performance and safety testing services with DOE national laboratories to innovative small-capacity battery design projects that will yield improved performance, safety, and recyclability.

The purpose of this design prize is to advance innovative new designs for microbatteries and accelerate their commercialization and integration into existing technologies needed for clean energy manufacturing, like sensor systems for improved smart manufacturing processes, and sensors for grid monitoring of renewable energy sources as the nation continues its transition to clean energy future.

Because of the requirements associated with their small size, the microbattery market is unable to leverage many of the existing manufacturing processes of the larger battery supply chain ecosystem. This presents a major barrier to the development and commercialization of new microbattery chemistries and designs, along with an opportunity to increase domestic production and secure supply chains. Not only are microbatteries crucial for clean energy manufacturing scale-up and smart technology innovation, but some manufacturing innovations resulting from this design prize could be applied to larger batteries as well. Microbatteries are also critical components of non-energy-related technologies that society relies on, such as wearable and implantable medical devices, meaning the resultant designs of this prize could affect innovation across multiple industries.

This announcement marks the opening of the first of two phases in the Microbattery Design Prize.

  • Phase 1: Idea
    The first phase will select the best ideas for a new microbattery design.  During Phase 1, competitors will develop and submit technical designs and schematics for microbatteries that serve a specific application (like a grid monitoring devices) and meet certain performance goals (like a specific storage capacity, cycle lifetime, safety, or recyclability) that go beyond what is commercially available today.
  • Phase 2: Test
    During this second phase, competitors will create prototypes they can submit to DOE national labs for performance and safety testing.  Competitors will also work to determine potential cost to manufacture their designs at scale. By the end of this contest, participants will develop a realistic plan to commercialize and manufacture their technology. Note: Only selectees from phase I will be eligible for participation in phase II.

Applications for Phase 1 are due on July 1, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. ET. DOE anticipates making up to six awards in Phase 1, each consisting of a $75,000 cash prize and performance and safety testing services with DOE National Laboratories. Learn more about the prize, including deadlines and how to apply. DOE will hold an informational webinar on April 12, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. ET.

The Microbattery Design Prize is led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) and managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Visit the Microbattery Design Prize page on the American-Made Challenges website for more information.

Webinar: Comparison of Three Hydrogen Production Methods

Mar 16, 2023, 11 am CDT
Register here.

With the new $4.00 per kg federal incentive from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for green hydrogen, this technology now deserves serious attention. Hydrogen production and use as a fuel will be a growing component of our industry’s clean energy transition. This presentation explains and compares three options to produce hydrogen with zero, or near zero, CO 2 emissions. We will look at and compare:

  • Green Hydrogen from solar PV electrical hydrolysis of water
  • Blue Hydrogen using steam methane reforming of natural gas (with carbon capture)
  • Turquoise Hydrogen, or methane pyrolysis, which produces solid carbon and no CO 2 gas

CAPEX, OPEX, and carbon balance will also be covered, including the potential tax credit implications under the IRA.

US neighborhoods with more people of color suffer worse air pollution

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The Guardian worked with academics to analyze air pollution in the contiguous US at a neighborhood level and created a top 10 ranking of local areas breathing the worst air. And a new interactive map allows Americans to see the estimated pollution levels in their neighborhoods at an unprecedented level of detail.

The analysis, based on a model created by a team of researchers at institutions including the University of Washington, shows that the more people of color who live in a neighborhood, the higher the fine particulate air pollution levels are likely to be…

The Guardian’s map is based on a cutting-edge model developed by Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions (CACES), a multi-university research center partnered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The model estimates fine particulate air pollution, or PM2.5, at a far more local level than would otherwise be possible.

Climate, federal workers loom large in Biden’s $6.8T budget

Read the full story at GreenWire.

President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $6.8 trillion budget plan Thursday that would increase federal spending on climate and clean energy programs while boosting pay for federal workers.

The White House’s budget proposal for fiscal 2024 aims to funnel more cash into the administration’s key policy priorities, including efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy. To increase revenue, the president wants to increase taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals and end tax subsidies for oil and gas companies.

Silicon Valley Bank collapse threatens climate start-ups

Read the full story in the New York Times.

As the fallout of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank continued to spread over the weekend, it became clear that some of the worst casualties were companies developing solutions for the climate crisis.

The bank, the largest to fail since 2008, worked with more than 1,550 technology firms that are creating solar, hydrogen and battery storage projects. According to its website, the bank issued them billions in loans…

Community solar projects appear to be especially hard hit. Silicon Valley Bank said that it led or participated in 62 percent of financing deals for community solar projects, which are smaller-scale solar projects that often serve lower-income residential areas.

What’s the carbon footprint of March Madness?

The environmental cost of that ticket is high. AP Photo/Butch Dill

by Brian P. McCullough, Texas A&M University


March Madness means 68 teams vying to become champion, Cinderella runs for a few underdogs and big business for the NCAA, which earns 85% of its annual operating budget during the men’s basketball tournament.

But all of that comes at a tremendous cost: An estimated 463 million pounds (210 million kilograms) of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions are released into the atmosphere during the three-week event. That’s similar to all the emissions of a large university – such as 2019 champion University of Virginia – for an entire year.

These greenhouse gas emissions warm the planet, contributing to heat waves, sea level rise and extreme weather. Carbon dioxide equivalent is a way of measuring the impact of several different greenhouse gases at once.

Crunching carbon for large-scale event

A colleague, Alex Cooper, and I came up with this figure based on data for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Past research on the carbon footprint of sporting events has primarily focused on one-city events, such as the Football Association Challenge Cup in the U.K. and centralized events like the Olympics. Little prior research has sought to determine the environmental impact of a large-scale sporting event like the NCAA’s men’s basketball tournament.

In addition, when sports organizers do calculate and report emissions for their events, they typically only report what happens at their facility during the event. They don’t consider the environmental impact, for example, of travel to and from the event.

So, we wanted to know, what’s the carbon tally for a huge and popular event like March Madness?

For our peer-reviewed study, which was published in October 2021 in the Journal of Cleaner Production, we aimed to estimate the carbon emissions for all the activities that go into running a massive basketball tournament that takes place in multiple cities across the country in a short span of time. While our estimates are based on 2019, we believe that tournament-generated emissions are comparable to other years, including 2023.

We looked beyond facilities to consider team and fan flight and automobile travel, facility operations, food consumption, waste generation and lodging for everyone based on each team’s progression through the 2019 tournament. We used attendance estimates to determine the impact of hotel stays, fan and team air and automobile travel, waste generation, food consumption and sport facility operations to form our carbon emission model.

Based on our model, we found that this resulted in 463 million pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions. That’s about 1,100 pounds (499 kilograms) for every player, coach and fan who attends. That amount is the same as driving over 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) in a typical sedan.

The biggest source of emissions by far was, as you might expect, fan and team travel, which accounted for about 79.95% of the total. The next-largest was hotel stays at 6.83%, followed by food at 6.37%, stadium operations at 5.9% and general waste at 0.95%.

What surprised us most was that the category of travel as a share of the total was lower than in previous studies that analyzed the carbon footprint of sporting events. But that was primarily because, unlike in those other studies, we considered many other aspects of the event, such as lodging, food and waste.

Ways to mitigate impact

So what can the organizers of March Madness – or any tournament, really – do to reduce the carbon footprint?

Since travel makes up so much of that footprint, targeting emissions from long-distance travel, such as flights, may be one of the most effective ways to lower the event’s overall impact, as other researchers have noted.

While travel can’t be completely eliminated for a tournament like the NCAA’s, organizers could consider more regional placements to reduce the distances fans and teams must travel. For example, in 2019, Mississippi State, Liberty, Virginia Tech, Saint Louis and Wisconsin all traveled to San Jose, California. The idea would be for more games to take place regionally to decrease travel distances. This would not only reduce carbon emissions but could also increase profits by making it easier for more fans to attend.

And when evaluating host cities and sites, the NCAA could consider local policies that encourage sustainable hotel operations. For example, during the 2019 tournament, California host sites had more energy-efficient hotel operations, thus reducing the second-highest contributor to overall emissions. The same could be said about selecting arenas and sport facilities that are energy efficient.

March Madness brings tremendous value and enjoyment to college basketball fans throughout the country. While its carbon footprint can never be eliminated, there are ways to reduce its overlooked environmental cost.

Brian P. McCullough, Associate Professor of Sport Management and Director, Center for Sport Management and Education and the Laboratory for Sustainability in Sport, Texas A&M University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.