ARPA-E Funds Jansson’s Fuel Work
Source: Christer Jansson and Dan Hawkes
On September 19, 2013, the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded ESD’s Christer Jansson a $3.5 M grant to work on direct methane conversion, a process that, if successful, could lead to low-cost, energy-efficient fuel production from natural gas. The research team also includes John Tainer’s group at the LBNL Life Sciences Division and several industrial partners.
The project, called “Enzyme Engineering for Direct Methane Conversion,” involves designing a novel and unique enzyme, a PEP methylase (PEPMase) by engineering an existing enzyme to accept methane instead of carbon dioxide. This methylation process, which does not exist in nature, will be used as a pathway for converting methane to liquid transportation fuel.
Jansson’s award came as part of an ARPA-E office general announcement of funding for 33 new projects that focus on transportation fuels and advanced lightweight metals manufacturing. As stated in the announcement, the projects are funded through two new ARPA-E programs called REMOTE and METALS. REMOTE (Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy) will provide $34 million to 15 projects aimed at finding advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation. METALS (Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems) will provide $32 million to 18 projects aimed at finding cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals for lightweight vehicles.
Jansson’s funding was the largest award in the REMOTE category.