ARPA-E Releases RFI on Waste Heat Recovery and Announces Workshop on Anaerobic Digestion

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has released a request for information (RFI) seeking input to inform future programs in waste heat recovery.  In addition, ARPA-E is hosting a workshop on anaerobic digestion in October 2016 in the Washington, D.C. area.  Those interested in working with ARPA-E on these issues are highly encouraged to respond to the RFI and/or submit applications to participate in the workshop, as ARPA-E uses the input garnered from such solicitations to formulate new programs and funding opportunities.

RFI on Lower Grade Waste Heat Recovery

ARPA-E is seeking feedback from experts in waste heat recovery, materials science, and solid-state technology to inform the scope, structure, and direction of potential future programs in lower grade waste heat recovery technologies.  As with other ARPA-E activities, any program resulting from this RFI will support the development of disruptive, novel technologies that are in the early stages of research and development rather than the integration of existing technologies.  Responses to this RFI are due on September 30, 2016.US DOE

Research shows that there is significant opportunity in waste heat recovery technologies.  For example, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory estimates that most of the 59.2 quadrillion BTU of energy wasted in 2015 was in the form of heat.[1]  Existing methods for waste heat recovery, which are often mechanical, solid-state, or hybrid technologies, suffer from inefficiencies related to their complexity, footprint, power requirements, and/or cost.  As such, respondents to this RFI are encouraged to answer specific questions regarding: mechanical systems; solid-state devices (as they relate to thermoelectric generators, thermionics, and multiferroic thermoelectrics); electrochemical approaches; up-conversion of waste heat; any other potentially transformative technologies; and challenges to large-scale deployment of waste heat recovery systems.

Sources and Additional Information:

ARPA-E Workshop on Anaerobic Digestion

ARPA-E will be hosting a workshop focused on anaerobic digestion on October 27-28, 2016 in the Washington, D.C. area.  The workshop, entitled “Rewiring Anaerobic Digestion”, will address ARPA-E’s interest in “control mechanisms for anaerobic microbial consortia focused on enhanced hydrolysis and prevention of methanogenesis, and technologies for [volatile fatty acid (VFA)] separations and downstream upgrading.”  Ultimately, ARPA-E hopes to use advancements in this field to increase the carbon yield of rewired anaerobic digestion, leading towards macroalgae feeding as an alternative feedstock.

The outcomes of this workshop will likely form the basis of new research programs in the application of anaerobic digestion.  To that end, ARPA-E endeavors to use this workshop to realize the following objectives:

  • “Identification of key substrates for initial conversion demonstration in a [funding opportunity announcement] and longer-term implementation;
  • Identification of consortia engineering approaches for cost-effectively enhancing hydrolysis rates;
  • Identification of consortia engineering approaches for preventing methanogenesis;
  • Determination of intermediate compounds of interest and identification of cost-effective separations technologies;
  • Identification of downstream upgrading technologies for cost-effective reduction of VFAs to hydrocarbons, through the addition of hydrogen or electricity;
  • Understanding the current state of technology regarding analysis of mixed/syntrophic microbial communities; and
  • Identification of opportunities for process intensification and capital cost reduction in anaerobic digestion.”

Applications should include a resume/CV, description of the applicant’s expertise in this area, and a statement outlining the applicant’s perspectives on challenges and opportunities related to the workshop topic area.  Applications should be submitted via email to with the subject line “Anaerobic Digestion”.

Sources and Additional Information:

[1] Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, “Estimated U.S. Energy Consumption in 2015”, Available at


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