The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) supports high-risk, high-reward energy research projects, and each year the agency hosts a meeting where grant recipients and other researchers and energy companies gather to discuss new developments. The field.
As I listened to presentations, met with researchers, and—especially—walked around the exhibit floor, I often felt a vague sense of dread. Standing at a booth trying to wrap my head around how we measure carbon stored in plants, I looked back and saw another group focused on making the world more viable with nuclear fusion.
Today, there are many tried-and-true solutions to combating climate change: wind and solar power are being deployed on a massive scale, electric vehicles are coming into the mainstream, and new technologies are helping companies even run off fossil fuels. Product less pollution. But as we roll out the easy wins, we need to innovate to tackle the more difficult areas to tackle and achieve net zero emissions.. Here are a few interesting projects from the ARPA-E show that caught my eye.
Stones filled with steam
“I hear you have a rock here!” I shouted as I approached the Quays Energy Station.
The Quays booth featured a glowing screen of some quick facts and demo videos. And sure enough, two slabs of stone were laid out on the table. They looked a little worse for wear, each with a hole the size of a quarter in the middle, singed around the edges.
These rocks have yielded their tectonic plates for a larger goal: making geothermal energy available anywhere.. Today, the high temperatures needed to generate electricity using heat from the Earth are only found in certain places on the planet, like Iceland or the western US.
Geothermal energy could theoretically be deployed anywhere if we could dig deep enough. Getting there won’t be easy, though, and will require digging 20 kilometers (12 miles) underground. This is deeper than any oil and gas well drilled today.
Instead of conventional drilling technology that grinds through layers of granite, Quaesz plans to use high-powered millimeter waves to penetrate the most rigid parts of the Earth’s crust. Vapor stone. (It’s kind of like a laser, but not quite.)