CO2 carbon can be converted to a valuable material and is, in principle, available at the Gt scale. Pyrolysis of biomass or of biologically produced methane (biogas), for example, has the promise of producing new, climate-inert, carbonaceous materials that can be used in the building and/or infrastructure sector. However, catalyst inactivation and controlling reaction conditions in pyrolysis is variable, and the full potential has not been explored.
Of particular interest in Area 1 is the processing of biomass and CO2-derived methane into new materials. While biochar, when produced from biomass and introduced into soil, has some potential to store carbon, other forms of inert carbonaceous material need to be developed to take advantage of the Gt scale annual CO2 capture by photosynthesis.
New chemical sciences for pyrolysis of CO2-derived methane, such as from biogas or upgraded biogas, to new material are needed. Methane pyrolysis has the advantage of being chemically homogeneous, which can enable formation to homogenous carbonaceous materials, such as carbon fibers or carbon nanoparticles. However, substantial new research on catalysts involved is needed.
In Area 1 of this RFP, new fundamental research on catalytic conversion of CO2-derived carbon to new, inexpensive materials with useful properties is funded. While the research focus remains on fundamental aspects of catalysis and process integration, scalability to the Mt-to-Gt level of the underlying approach needs to be addressed. Interdisciplinary approaches with significant innovation are encouraged.
New approaches with new science are needed for developing inexpensive, scalable technologies for capturing CO2 from non-point sources. Innovative inexpensive new chemical conversions and advanced microbial C1 catabolism are highly promising areas. Because captured CO2 is converted to new climate-inert materials for storage or use, CO2 capture needs to be integrated with a conversion process.
In Area 2 of this RFP, proposals on direct capture of CO2 from air or aqueous systems, such as the oceans or large terrestrial surface waters, are particularly encouraged. Proposed research is based on new chemical and life science-based approaches and/or combinations thereof that have the promise to work at scale. Proposals involving small molecule amines or metal-organic framework (MOF) will not be considered.
A different way to achieve Gt scale CO2 capture and conversion is by multiplicity of small scale, easy to operate units. For example, small, household-level units could capture amounts of CO2 equivalent to the CO2 produced by individuals of a household, in the order of 1 - 4 tons CO2 per person/year. CO2 is captured, converted, and disposed of by inexpensive means, taking advantage of local opportunities in terms of energy, carbon storage opportunity as well as low-cost process materials such as waste. Such captured CO2 could be collected and processed for storage in a de-centralized way.
Area 3 of this RFP seeks low TRL proposals that investigate fundamentals of innovative approaches for CO2 capture and conversion at a small scale. A key aspect of this approach is in the simplicity in the overall approach and practical handling. Proposals involving small molecule amines or metal-organic framework (MOF) will not be considered.
Because of the Gt scale of the CO2 problem, breakthroughs based on unconventional, out-of-the-box ideas are needed.
For example, H2 (or electrons in general) plays a key role in reductive transformations of CO2 for storage and use. Yet, there is a substantial deficit in currently available H2 if all available hydrogen would be used just for CO2 capture and reduction alone. Thus, significant innovation is required to develop new sources of electrons/H2 that are available at scale. Such sources are likely, but not exclusively, geochemically-based and need to be beyond electrolytically -or fermentatively-produced (i.e., organic matter-derived) H2. The latter two areas will not be considered.
Area 4 of this RFP solicits research to explore new, unconventional ideas on high-risk projects, such as, but not limited to H2 sources. Proposals in Area 4 are typically for 1 year to explore new ideas and to provide proof of concept data. Collaborative, interdisciplinary teams from chemistry and life sciences are particularly encouraged to apply.
Below please find the documents for the call for download: