2024 Strategic Energy Seed Grant Program

2024 Strategic Energy Seed Grant Program

2024 Strategic Energy Seed Grant Program

Program Description

The 2024 Strategic Energy Seed Grant Program is a funding opportunity sponsored by The Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin to spark new, impactful and collaborative research in any field of energy, including business, law and policy, with an aim towards decarbonization and climate security.

Discipline/Subject Area: Energy Sciences, Engineering, Business, Law and/or Policy

Estimated Number of Awards: 12

Maximum Total Funding Per Project: $100,000

Project Dates: May 1, 2024 – April 30, 2025

Proposal Due Date: March 1, 2024 at 5:00 PM CST March 4, 2024 at 11:59 PM CST

Program Synopsis

Global energy demand continues to rise, while greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must fall in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  Addressing this, while ensuring equitable access to energy is one of the greatest challenges facing society.  Many governments and companies have set ambitious goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050; however, the technologies and policies needed to achieve these goals do not fully exist. The 2024 Strategic Energy Seed Grant Program aims to accelerate the scientific, engineering, technological, techno-economic and policy innovations needed to achieve these climate and economic goals.  This opportunity is open to all fields of energy research. Proposals addressing re-use of produced water, critical minerals, government policy frameworks needed to speed the pace of energy innovation, and these four topical areas are of particular relevance:

Carbon Management or CCUS (utilization via all pathways including biological)

A future with net zero carbon emissions will require technology and policy advances in carbon capture (including point source and direct air capture (DAC)), carbon storage, and carbon utilization (i.e., the conversion of CO2 to useful products.  These approaches might include the development of new catalysts, tools of synthetic biology and nature-based solutions, among others. The generation of clean hydrogen from natural gas requires effective carbon capture, storage and utilization strategies. Research addressing technoeconomic hurdles and opportunities, and government policy frameworks that could promote/hinder development or build-out are of particular interest.  

Low and Zero-Carbon Fuels and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal will provide critical resources for generating low-carbon electricity and low- to no-carbon fuels. Long-duration, daily-to-monthly, energy storage technologies will be required to manage the intermittency of solar and wind.  Clean hydrogen can be generated and used or converted to NH3, methanol or formate for example, for transport and later use in a wide range of chemicals, biofuels and biological and materials processes. There are emerging opportunities to use electricity to generate chemicals—so-called, power-to-X (P2X) processes—with the potential to dramatically reduce GHG emissions. Plastics production and use must be made more sustainable. The widespread emergence of electric vehicles (i.e., e-mobility) and the potential for bidirectional charging—so-called vehicle-to-home (V2H), vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-anything (V2X)—are providing new opportunities for reducing carbon emissions and improving our energy resiliency. In addition to the numerous technology hurdles, the appropriate mix of these many options will vary by region and country and be determined by policy-enabled markets (for early adoption), which need to be understood.  Seed ideas for hard-to-abate challenges (such as long-distance transportation, including shipping and aviation (sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs)) among others) are especially encouraged.    

Industrial [Chemical/thermal (heat)] Decarbonization

Industrial processes account for about 30% of all global GHG emissions, and these emissions are rising much more rapidly than emissions in the power, transportation and buildings sectors. About 45% of industrial GHG emissions arise from manufacturing steel, cement, ammonia and ethylene, which come from the feedstocks and raw materials (45%), high-temperature heat generation (35%) and additional fuels burned to generate low- and medium-heat (20%). Electrification of industrial processes provides a route to decarbonization, but faces significant technological challenges. Carbon emissions are inherent to the chemical processes currently used to make these materials, because not only are there significant carbon emissions associated with the energy produced to drive the manufacturing, but CO2 is also emitted as a byproduct of the reactions used to make these materials and chemical products. Alternative materials, chemistry, feedstocks and process paths are needed. Strategies are needed to dramatically lower the embodied energy in buildings and building materials. There are opportunities to minimize and eliminate wastes using advanced manufacturing strategies, such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), circular economy (for plastics, water, critical materials, etc.) and waste-to-X opportunities, where X can be H2, power, etc.  

Power Value Chain Decarbonization

This sector has one of the highest potentials for lowering carbon footprint, especially through higher integration of renewables in the grid. Opportunities exist with grid expansion/efficiency, CCUS enablement in existing infrastructure, and distributed energy resources integration without/with energy storage and hybrids including smart grid/home/vehicle inter-connects for more-than-one-way power transmission/distribution. Innovative battery concepts are needed that increase the energy storage density, such as solid-state lithium ion batteries, batteries that go beyond lithium ion, such as sodium or potassium ion batteries, or batteries that can address dual purposes, such as Al/CO2 flow batteries that can accomplish direct air capture of CO2 while storing power.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a full-time employee of UT Austin with current PI status.
  • Open to all Colleges or Schools at UT Austin.
  • Proposals must be submitted by collaborative teams of 2-3 investigators.
  • One individual must be selected as the project PI.
  • An individual may participate as PI on no more than one proposal. An individual may participate as co-PI on up to three proposals.

Timeline

  December 7, 2023      Request for Proposals (RFP) Released
  March 1, 2024  Proposals Due (5:00 PM Central Standard Time)    
  April 15, 2024  Awards Announced
  May 1, 2024  Performance Period Begins (Funds Available)
  April 30, 2025  Performance Period Ends
  June 1, 2025  Final Report Due
Program Details

Program Details

View important program details including deadlines and application links.

Contact:


Christa Hopkins

Senior Administrative Associate