Magazine article National Defense

Could Direct Solar Fuels Power Military Vehicles?

Magazine article National Defense

Could Direct Solar Fuels Power Military Vehicles?

Article excerpt

Some researchers are looking to the sky to reduce the country's need for foreign oil.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's counterpart at the Energy Department, ARPA-E, is funding a handful of initiatives aimed at creating processes to develop direct solar fuels.

The projects are being funded to the tune of about $15 million and are led by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, Sun Catalytix Corp. and Iowa State University.

While it has become rather common to convert the sun's energy into electricity, scientists are looking to develop technologies that use sunlight as an ingredient in chemical reactions alongside microorganisms to produce fuels. This solar energy is considered direct because it doesn't have to pass through an intermediate stage. Because microorganisms are not killed, ingredients can be used repeatedly to yield large quantities of fuel.

Iowa State researchers are a year into their work. …

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