Inside the conference where researchers solve the clean energy puzzle

Inside the conference where researchers solve the clean energy puzzle

Inside the conference where researchers solve the clean energy puzzle

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) funds high-risk, high-reward energy research projects, and each year the agency hosts a summit where funding recipients and other energy researchers and companies can get together to talk about what’s new in the field.

Listening to presentations, meeting researchers and, above all, strolling through the display case, I often had a vague feeling of a boost. Standing in front of a booth trying to make myself understand how we could measure the carbon stored by plants, I looked over and saw another group focused on turning nuclear fusion into a more practical way to power the world.

There are many proven solutions that can start tackling climate change now: wind and solar power are being rolled out on a large scale, electric vehicles are becoming mainstream, and new technologies are helping companies make even fossil fuels. cleaner production. But as we weed out the easy wins, we will also need to be creative in tackling the hardest to solve areas and achieve net zero emissions.. Here are some intriguing projects from the ARPA-E showcase that caught my eye.

vaporized rocks

“I heard you had rocks here!” I cried as I approached the Quaise Energy station.

Quaise’s booth featured a flashing screen through quick facts and how-to videos. And of course, laid out on the table were two slabs of rock. They looked a little less well-worn, each sporting a hole about the size of a quarter in the middle, burnt around the edges.

These rocks have earned their scorch marks in service of a grand purpose: to make geothermal energy possible anywhere.. Today, the high temperatures needed to generate electricity from the Earth’s heat are only accessible near the surface in some places on the planet, such as Iceland or the western United States. United.

Geothermal energy could in theory be deployed anywhere, if we could drill deep enough. However, getting there won’t be easy and may require drilling 20 kilometers (12 miles) below the surface. That’s deeper than any oil and gas drilling done today.

Rather than grinding through layers of granite with conventional drilling technology, Quaise plans to cut through the most stubborn parts of the earth’s crust using high-powered millimeter waves to vaporize the rock. (It’s a bit like lasers, but not quite.)


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