(CLOSED) DE-FOA-0002254 Research to Enable Fuels From Sunlight

Sponsor Name: 
DOE - Department of Energy
Description of the Award: 


The DOE SC program in Basic Energy Sciences (BES) hereby solicits new applications for multi-investigator cross-disciplinary fundamental research to address emerging new directions as well as long-standing challenges in liquid solar fuels generation via artificial photosynthesis approaches. Artificial photosynthesis is typically viewed as the generation of fuels using only sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water as inputs. However, for the purpose of this FOA the concept of artificial ohotosynthesis approaches will be expanded to include other abundant feedstocks beyond carbon dioxide, such as nitrogen. Regardless of feedstock, the focus must remain on fundamental scientific concepts for solar-driven liquid fuel production.

Applications should focus on the highest scientific priorities in solar fuels production as identified by the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable and will be required to address priority research opportunities (PROs) denoted by the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable at https://science.osti.gov/bes/Community-Resources/Reports. The research should capitalize on unique capabilities and accomplishments developed to date, including those from BES-funded efforts in the Fuels from Sunlight Hub, Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), and BES core programs. Projects should also integrate experiment and theory to elucidate scientific principles for light energy capture and conversion into chemical bonds.

The nature of the proposed fundamental solar fuels research will impact a broad range of topics, including carbon dioxide use and reduction. Two recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports, “Gaseous Carbon Waste Streams Utilization: Status and Research Needs” and “Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration: A Research Agenda,” provided an assessment of research needs and opportunities to remove and utilize gaseous carbon. As identified in these studies, key research targets for chemical carbon dioxide utilization include improvement of existing catalysts, discovery of entirely new catalysts, and identification of factors affecting catalysis performance when integrated into reactor systems. These fundamental science topics can advance the production of chemicals and fuel, including liquid solar fuels as noted by the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable (https://science.osti.gov/bes/Community-Resources/Reports), as well as the development of effective carbon dioxide reduction, removal, and sequestration technologies.

Program Objective
This FOA will support new Fuels from Sunlight Hubs to advance fundamental knowledge for solar fuels production via artificial photosynthesis approaches. While several approaches could potentially enable fuel production using sunlight as the only energy input, this FOA focuses solely on artificial photosynthesis approaches – the direct use of sunlight, water, and abundant feedstocks for liquid fuel production. These new projects, coupled with a robust core research portfolio stewarded by the individual BES programs, will create the scientific foundation needed to advance solar fuels generation, resulting in public benefits for national security, economic competitiveness, and leadership in scientific discovery. Proposed research should address the highest scientific priorities in this area and build on all advances in solar energy capture and conversion, including accomplishments resulting from BES core programs, EFRCs, and JCAP. Applications for this FOA will be required to address the priority research opportunities (PROs) denoted by the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable at https://science.osti.gov/bes/Community-Resources/Reports.
Proposed efforts should assemble the most talented scientists to conduct coordinated, collaborative, and highly interdisciplinary fundamental research to tackle scientific challenges for generating liquid solar fuels. Applications submitted to this FOA may request support in the range from $10M to $20M per year.

  • Projects must address at least two of the PROs denoted by the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable (see above).
  • The PROs to be addressed should be clearly stated on the Cover Page of the Pre-applications and the Proposal Narrative as specified in Sections IV.B.2 and IV.D.2 of this FOA.
  • Applications that do not address at least two PROs from the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable (see above) may be declined without review.
  • Applications must build upon and go beyond the accomplishments in this field to date, including those of BES-funded research (Solar Photochemistry program, BES PI meeting abstracts, EFRCs, JCAP).
  • An award made under this FOA is expected to be highly collaborative with other research efforts in solar fuels, including any other award that may be made under this FOA as well as the broader solar fuels scientific community.
  • With the goals to advance fundamental research and improve competitiveness of the United States, the proposed projects should energize the wider scientific/technical solar fuels communities and serve as national resources, conveners, and leaders. The potential impact of success must be significant.
  • The focus of this FOA is fundamental scientific research.

Awards are expected to be made for a period of up to five years.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor LOI Deadline: 
Mar 25, 2020
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
May 27, 2020
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should send the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_DE-FOA-0002254.pdf no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

Cover Page:

  • Principal Investigator’s (PI's) names and departmental affiliation
  • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • A list of possible participating organizations, if applicable
  • Proposal Title

Project Description (no more than two pages):

Identify the project scope that addresses the key aspects and elements outlined in the solicitation, principal investigators, collaborators, and partner organizations.

2-page CV's of PI/coPIs

Formatting Guidelines:

Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)
Questions concerning the limited submissions process may be submitted to limitedsubs@psu.edu.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Friday, February 28, 2020 - 12:00pm
No Applicants