Power In Strange Places: ARPA-E Bets on Seaweed, Bugs and Airborne Windmills0

ecomagination staff | Fri Apr 27 2012

The U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E is hoping to do for energy what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, did for digital communications: create transformational technologies. ARPA-E is shooting to make low-cost bets on ideas that could change the energy landscape. Below, are three excerpts from VICE/ecomagination collaboration “The Energy Fixers,” that highlights some of these bets.

“Bug Oil”

Take a genetically programmed microbe, add in carbon dioxide and electricity and what do you get? According to Arun Majumdar, director of the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E, you get oil. In this short, based on the VICE/ecomagination video “The Energy Fixers,” Majumdar explains how “bug oil” could change the future of transportation.

“Seaweed Power”

If biofuels are going to be an important part of our energy future, seaweed is the most attractive option. Unlike cane sugar or corn, seaweed grows everywhere and is one of the most attractive options. In this short, BAL Chief Technology Officer Richard Bailey talks about his company’s efforts to prove seaweed’s viability.

“Windmills in the Sky”

Makani Power CEO Corwin Hardham was a professional windsurfer at age 17. Now he’s trying to harness the wind for energy. Makani’s high altitude tethered wings are lightweight and therefore lower cost than conventional wind turbines. Hardham explains here how his technology could meet our future energy needs by taking to the sky.

Top image: A composite image of a single wing 7 prototype demonstrating the flight path of the wing during crosswind flight, Sherman Island, CA, June 2011. Courtesy Makani Power