US Goverment on the hunt for clean energy

I saw a pretty refreshing headline online today: "Beyond Fossil Fuels" - even if just for a moment, it made the gray Bay Area weather seem a little brighter! Here's the scoop:

In the wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf, and the news about global warming (as well as the threats of getting the vast majority of our oil from the Middle East), our government is trying something a little new. They're funding a new agency within the Department of Energy, it's called the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (or ARPA-E). They're funding it for 2 years, at $400 million a year, with the hopes that some clean energy miracles will materialize.

What kinds of miracles, you ask? This article is full of really "wonky" technology talk -- but it's pretty fascinating if you get down to it! They're looking for solutions that can create tens of millions of motor vehicles that would be able to "run 300 miles a day on electricity from clean sources or on liquid fuels from trees and garbage."

Here are a few more specifics for the technology lovers:

...a better battery. A pound of gasoline holds about 35 times more energy than a pound of lead-acid batteries and about six times more than lithium-ion batteries. And cars must carry their energy and expend energy to carry it, so the less weight per unit of energy, the better.

Another approach being financed by ARPA-E is to convert the tremendous amount of energy stored by plants and trees to a car fuel...Scientists are tantalized by plants and trees because they store far more energy than is consumed by cars, trucks, trains and planes, and they do it by taking carbon out of the atmosphere. But they do not give that energy back in an easy-to-use form, at least not without taking millions of years to turn into oil. (from the NYTimes)

Can they do it?! Will it be enough?

What would you do about finding clean energy solutions right now if you were our government?

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