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ARPA-E funding environmentally conscious programmes

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has announced up to US$60 million in funding for two new programmes that aim to solve some of the nation’s energy challenges by accelerating the development of novel energy technologies. The first programme, NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated on-Road vehicles (NEXTCAR) seeks to develop new technologies that decrease energy consumption of future vehicles through the use of connectivity and automation. The second programme, Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) seeks to improve crop breeding for root and soil function to allow for greater carbon storage in plants.


Significant research and development is underway to make future vehicles more connected and automated in order to reduce road accidents and traffic fatalities, while leveraged to improve energy efficiency in future vehicles. The NEXTCAR programme is providing up to US$30 million in funding to create new control technologies that reduce the energy consumption of future vehicles by using connectivity and vehicle automation. The programme seeks transformative technological solutions that will enable at least a 20% reduction in the energy consumption of future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), compared to vehicles without such technologies.


Improving the ability for plants to store carbon in the soil has the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. The ROOTS programme is making up to US$30 million in funding available to pursue technologies that develop new crop breeding approaches for improved root and soil function that will help plants to store more carbon in the ground and take up nutrients and water more efficiently. ROOTS seeks to develop technologies that measure root and soil function and advance predictive models that accelerate the selection and development of plants with more favourable root and soil traits. These technologies could improve crops and production systems that increase carbon storage, water productivity, and fertilizer efficiency which reduces the emissions of another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.

“We must continue to invest in programmes that encourage the scientific community to think boldly and differently about our nation’s energy future,” said ARPA-E Director Ellen Williams. “The NEXTCAR programme’s focus on exploiting automation to improve energy efficiency in future vehicles and the ROOTS programme’s exploration of carbon capture using crops demonstrate ARPA-E’s unique and forward looking approach to energy innovation.”

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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