ARPA-E Announces Energy and Carbon Optimized Synthesis for the Bioeconomy Program

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) released a $25 million funding opportunity for new technologies to improve the carbon efficiency of bioconversion platforms. The Energy and Carbon Optimized Synthesis for the Bioeconomy (ECOSynBio) program seeks to establish pathways for low-, zero-, or negative-carbon fuels, chemicals, and materials for a robust and secure U.S. bioeconomy. Ultimately, ARPA-E seeks to improve the carbon benefits of bioenergy products, increase generation of biofuels, and expand on previous ARPA-E projects to generate these technologies at scale. Specific topics of interest include:

  1. “carbon optimized fermentation strains that avoid CO2 evolution;
  2. engineered mixotrophic consortia or systems that avoid CO2 evolution;
  3. biomass or gas fermentation with internal CO2 utilization;
  4. cell-free carbon optimized biocatalytic biomass conversion and/or CO2 utilization, and;
  5. cross-cutting or other proposed carbon optimized bioconversion schemes.”

“Organic biomaterials” and “Synthetic Biology” are two of five key ARPA-E priorities through fiscal year (FY) 2021.  For additional background, ARPA-E held a workshop in September 2019 on carbon-optimized bioconversion. All presentations and other materials are available here.

U.S. for-profit entities, educational institutions, and nonprofits are eligible to apply for funding as a standalone applicant. ARPA-E expects $25 million in funding for eight to 12 projects.  Awards may range between $250,000 and $7 million with a period of performance not exceeding 36 months. Concept papers are required by October 26, 2020 at 9:30 AM ET.  If invited, the deadline for full applications is TBD.  More information can be found here: ECOSynBio.


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