DAC Hubs: The IIJA Authorization Driving the Industry

Even if we hit the brakes on emissions today, there is still too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to meet net zero by 2050. Engineer and Professor Klaus Lackner realized this back in 1999, at the 24th Annual Technical Conference on Coal Utilization and Fuel Systems in Clearwater, FL, where he proposed the concept of directly scrubbing CO2 from the air. Fast forward to 2021, and a momentous milestone was achieved as the world's first direct air capture (DAC) plant turned on in Iceland.

In 2021, Congress also provided the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) a staggering $3.5 billion through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to develop four Regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hubs, each with the capacity to capture 1 million metric tons of CO2 annually. While much of the federal investments in the IIJA were directed towards traditional projects such as roads and bridges, one significant section managed to revolutionize an industry: the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs.

U.S. DAC innovators are eager to hit the ground running with their technology. In August 2023, DOE announced up to $1.2 billion for two DAC Hubs slated for award negotiations: the South Texas DAC Hub and Project Cypress in southwest Louisiana, both designed to capture a million metric tons of CO2. In March, Project Cypress, the first to emerge from negotiations, received the first portion of their award funding — $50 million issued by the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED). Battelle, the project lead, has indicated that an additional $51 million in private investment will be mobilized to kick-start the initial phase of the Project Cypress DAC Hub. DOE is anticipated to finalize the remaining $1.2 billion in DAC grants soon and is set to release an additional $2.4 billion in follow-on funding.

When included in a portfolio of innovative, clean technologies, DAC has the potential to provide a game-changing solution to the global challenge of removing excess carbon dioxide (CO2) already in our atmosphere. Research shows DAC can remove CO2 at the volumes needed to meet net-zero targets AND it can do so quickly.

Though the two million-ton DAC Hub winners are garnering the spotlight, there are 19 additional projects that will support earlier stages of DAC project development, including feasibility assessments and front-end engineering and design (FEED) studies. Of the 19, 14 projects will enable efforts to explore the feasibility of a potential DAC Hub location, ownership structure and business model. The remaining five projects will perform FEED studies establishing and defining technical requirements focused on project scope, schedule and costs to reduce risk during later phases.

While stakeholders eagerly await the finalization of these awards, DOE is already looking ahead to its next task of accelerating DAC deployment potential by supporting mid-scale commercial demonstration facilities. Last month, DOE issued a Request for Information on how to approach the development of DAC facilities with lower capture capacities of approximately 5,000–25,000 tons per year. 

DOE’s Regional DAC Hubs represent a fusion of innovation and economic opportunity. Furthermore, these hubs offer a tangible solution to the pressing issue of climate change without resorting to heavy-handed regulations or mandates. By incentivizing private-sector investment in DAC technologies, the government empowers businesses to lead in reducing emissions while preserving economic competitiveness.

DAC Hubs showcase the potential for collaborative efforts between government and industry. The success of DAC technology hinges not only on its scalability but also on its capacity to integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructures and industries.

DAC is one of the many types of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies that are taking on the challenge of removing CO2 from our atmosphere. Because of this, the program will lay the technical foundation for the future widespread commercialization of this critical suite of technologies. The yearly removal capacity for all U.S.-based CDR technologies is roughly one billion metric tons and 10 billion metric tons globally to reach net zero by 2050. With the DAC Hubs only clearing a percentage of the task, there is still a long road ahead. Other DOE initiatives like the CDR Pilot Prize are embracing a technology-inclusive approach to accelerate multiple CDR solutions, like enhanced weathering and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, towards the billion metric ton goal. Bipartisan proposals, such as the Carbon Removal and Emissions Storage Technologies (CREST) Act of 2023 introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), possess the ability to infuse the necessary resources toward this technology-inclusive DOE program. 

The United States is leading the way for supportive policies for DAC innovation. As the DAC narrative unfolds, it underscores the importance of bold, forward-thinking American policies like the IIJA, which have the potential to catalyze transformative change within the industry.

Earth, Wind, Fire: Geothermal Plants are Perfect for Direct Air Capture

Earlier this year, Houston-based geothermal energy developer Fervo announced an important new project to use its next-generation geothermal systems to power a direct air capture (DAC) facility. The announcement marks another milestone in the path towards a decarbonized economy and the expanded use of both geothermal and DAC technologies.

Geothermal + DAC = CO2 Reduction

The Need for Direct Air Capture of CO2

Deploying DAC technologies offer an exciting opportunity to add another tool to the toolbox for lowering global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Most decarbonization efforts focus on two areas. The first is keeping CO2 from going up into the atmosphere by generating electricity from technologies that don’t emit CO2 at all — think nuclear or renewables like hydropower and geothermal. The second effort is to use technology to capture the CO2 that would have been emitted from power plants and put it back underground – often referred to as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The problem, unfortunately, is that there is already a heck of a lot of extra CO2 up in the atmosphere. DAC technologies offer a third option for decarbonizing by removing this CO2 from the air around us. If you have not heard of DAC, think of it as a massive vacuum cleaner that literally sucks carbon dioxide molecules out of the open air.

With recent Congressional action to pass bills with clean energy incentives, DAC technology is poised to see major growth moving forward. Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) granted a series of awards to universities, utilities, and private businesses to study a variety of potential implementation models for DAC technologies ranging from use on nuclear and geothermal power plants to retrofitting steel and fertilizer plant operations.

Additionally, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), called for $3.5 billion in DOE funding to be used to establish four regional DAC hubs to, “demonstrate processing, transport, secure geologic storage, and/or conversion of CO2 captured from the atmosphere with DAC technology and accelerate commercialization of those technologies.” Project selections are expected later this summer and will provide another set of R&D opportunities for this technology.

Finally, under the tax package passed last year, the 45Q tax credit for CCS technologies included a special rule for DAC projects to expand tax incentives with the hope of enabling the industry to scale and export innovations on a global scale.

Why Geothermal?

Geothermal energy is heat that radiates from the core of the Earth to the subsurface, produced by the decay of radioactive materials and residual heat from the planet’s formation. Geysers, hot springs, volcanoes, and fumaroles are all locations where geothermal energy reaches all the way to the Earth’s surface. It is easier to access geothermal resources in these locations, but geothermal resources are actually available anywhere if one drills deep enough. Geothermal energy, like wind and solar energy, is an inexhaustible natural resource.

Enhanced or engineered geothermal systems (EGS) create opportunities to use hot, dry rock by enhancing the permeability of a specific geology or by adding water. EGS developers drill wells and inject water at high pressures to crack rock. After permeability has been improved to increase fluid circulation, hot water can be drawn to the surface through a production well and used for electricity generation.

U.S. Potential for Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Dots Indicate Existing Hydrothermal Sites

Shaded Regions Are Potentially Suitable for EGS

Similar to recent policies adopted to support DAC, Congress has taken steps to support the geothermal industry in an effort to spur growth and innovation and to expand the map in facilitating its use in projects outside just the Western U.S. In addition to support in the tax package, the BIL set aside funding for the DOE to fund EGS demonstration projects. In February of this year, the DOE’s Geothermal Technology Office announced they would fund up to seven EGS projects with applications due this summer.

Perfect Union

As of late 2022, there were 18 DAC plants in operation around the globe. Most of these are still smaller demonstration projects, but newly planned facilities like Occidental Petroleum’s in West Texas will be much larger, with the potential to remove up to 1 megaton (MT) of CO2 annually. To meet its net-zero goals, the U.S. could require 60 MT of CO2 removal each year by 2030, which would necessitate the buildout of an additional 60 plants similar in size to Occidental’s. Of note, Occidental has said that they could build up to 70 DAC projects globally by 2035 under current market conditions.

To result in a net carbon removal, DAC plants need electricity supplied by a 24/7 zero-emissions power source. Many DAC technologies also require access to a constant heat source, like that resulting from a geothermal plant, meaning EGS fits the bill perfectly.

Add to that the fact that the captured CO2 will need to be stored somewhere, usually in large underground geologic formations, and geothermal plant developers are uniquely qualified to pair with DAC plants. Companies like Fervo use next-generation technologies to survey the earth for their operations, and this same technology can be leveraged to help identify high-quality CO2 storage locations for DAC operations.

Today, the combo of geothermal and DAC is being used in Iceland, where Climeworks’ Orca plant has been removing CO2 from the atmosphere since 2021. Its system of fans, filters, and heaters are all powered by geothermal energy, and plans are underway to expand across the globe everywhere from Scotland to Texas.

As the U.S. market continues to take shape, recognizing the complementary nature of these technologies and their massive potential is producing a true ‘win-win’ for decarbonization. Not only will innovations in geothermal power allow for reliable, affordable, firm electricity generation, but when paired with energy intensive DAC projects, the impact will not just be ‘carbon neutral’ but could, in fact, be ‘carbon negative,’ offsetting past historical emissions.


This latest announcement is illustrative of the types of technological innovations that will be needed for the U.S. and the world to effectively decarbonize the economy in the future. Addressing climate change will necessitate an ‘all of the above’ approach to not only limit future emissions from reaching the atmosphere by expanding the use of technologies like hydropower, nuclear, geothermal, and renewables, but will also require cleaning up the current atmosphere. Continuing to prioritize support for innovative technologies like EGS and DAC and pairing these industries is not only promising for reducing emissions, but could also usher in a whole new innovative industry segment with global potential. 

Clean Energy Infrastructure Year Marches On

November 2022 marks the first anniversary of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) robust investments in energy demonstration projects. This law, and its forerunner the Energy Act of 2020, both earned broad bipartisan support to invest in American infrastructure innovation and pave the way for America to once again lead the world in breakthrough clean energy technologies.

With great investment comes great accountability. ClearPath has been actively tracking the programs authorized by the Energy Act of 2020 and funded through the bipartisan infrastructure law. These investments include more than $62 billion in energy programs at the Department of Energy (DOE). The majority of these programs are located in the new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), which received more than $21 billion in funding through the IIJA. ClearPath provided implementation recommendations for key demonstration programs that will be critical for innovative new technologies including advanced nuclear, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen hubs, enhanced geothermal systems, and critical mineral production to reach commercial viability. Continued engagement with the private sector will be essential to ensure these programs are structured for success in these critical public-private partnerships.

Over the course of the first year, the Department has taken the initial steps, including receiving public comments and stakeholder feedback, to stand up dozens of new programs. ClearPath has helped facilitate stakeholder discussions with utilities, oil and gas companies with carbon capture expertise, and hydrogen developers. The Department has been measuring progress through issuing Requests for Information and Notices of Intent for $32 billion worth of programs, but has yet to open competitive application periods for the majority of these programs, including the much-awaited Direct Air Capture and Carbon Capture Hubs programs. Major funding opportunities, like the Hydrogen Hubs and civil nuclear credit programs, currently have open application periods. Over the course of 2023, it is likely that the vast majority of the remaining programs will see both application periods and award selections.

The Department has announced the recipients for two major demonstration programs: The Advanced Nuclear Demonstration Program was partially funded through the bipartisan IIJA to provide more than $3 billion to projects located at two sites including the Terrapower project in Kemmerer, Wyoming and the X-Energy Reactor project in Richland, Washington. Additionally, the Department announced $2.8 billion from the Battery Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program to support more than 20 projects located in more than a dozen states. These projects are designed to boost domestic capabilities across the battery supply chain, including commercial-scale facilities to process lithium, graphite and other battery materials, manufacture components, and demonstrate new approaches like manufacturing components from recycled materials. Done correctly, these projects will increase America’s competitiveness with China on critical minerals.

IIJA Award Selections to Date

In the new Congress, oversight related to the bipartisan infrastructure law will become an increased focus for both Chambers. While Congress will be interested in where the funds are being allocated, it will be equally important to understand structural challenges at the Department. One major challenge is hiring the necessary staff for the OCED to support these new programs and billions in federal funding. Additionally, Congress has yet to confirm nominees for the Underscretary for Infrastructure or a permanent Office director for OCED, although David Crane, the Infrastructure nominee, recently participated in his Senate confirmation hearing.

When it comes to oversight, it will be critical for policymakers to acknowledge the intent of these demonstration programs. While many will reflect past public failures that received federal funds, namely Solyndra, the reality is that demonstration projects are intended to be more like a test run than a final product. But the opportunities for success are greater, with companies and projects including Tesla and Vogtle that received early funding from programs offered by DOE having reached commercial status. By allocating these federal funds, DOE is absorbing risk the private sector would otherwise be unable or unwilling to take on. Much like the private sector investing in new technology, part of this risk will mean not every project succeeds. The critical piece will be to ensure this is part of the innovation cycle and not exacerbated by political interference.

This is where productive and robust congressional oversight can play an important role to protect taxpayer dollars and improve future research and demonstration projects for the next era of American innovation. While it is still early in the process for the major funding investments provided by the Energy Act of 2020 and the bipartisan infrastructure law, the first year past enactment has laid the groundwork for major announcements in the year ahead. ClearPath will continue to track these programs, award announcements, and the flow of federal funds through our Infrastructure Tracker Dashboards.

Recommendations for Implementing the Largest Clean Energy Investment Programs in U.S. History

In November 2021, Congress enacted the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which funded a wide-range of clean energy demonstration programs, including carbon capture, direct air capture, energy storage, geothermal, hydrogen, and industrial. The IIJA built on many of the authorizations in the Energy Act of 2020, which Congress passed and then-President Trump signed into law.

Now that Congress has allocated the funding, it is important for DOE to implement the IIJA demonstration programs consistent with Congressional direction and maximize the impact of taxpayer resources. DOE’s track record of funding large-scale demonstration projects is mixed, but the Department can increase the chances of success by adhering to principles of responsible program management, including rigorous merit review standards and adopting a milestone-based approach, so that projects with the most technical merit get funded.

As DOE prepares to issue funding opportunities in the coming weeks and months, ClearPath has developed a series of memos with recommendations for implementing the IIJA demonstration projects. Each of these memos includes similar principles related to rigorous milestones and responsible stewardship, but each also includes unique recommendations tailored to specific technologies. Brief summaries are included below.

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) Demonstration Program

Read the memo by Jena Lococo

The IIJA included nearly $12 billion for CCUS programs, with nearly $2.54 billion for a demonstration program authorized by the Energy Act. DOE should fund projects with the lowest technical risk and highest potential to deliver on time and on budget. Projects should be large enough to demonstrate on a commercial scale, but not so large that the complexities from scaling up from pilot testing are unclear. DOE should also ensure projects have stable revenue streams and offtake agreements. Finally, the federal government should expedite permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and EPA’s Underground Injection Control Class VI requirements.

Carbon Dioxide Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (CIFIA) Program

Read the memo by Grant Cummings

In the IIJA, Congress appropriated $2.1 billion for the CIFIA program to support the buildout of infrastructure to transport CO2 from where it is captured to where it can be utilized or securely sequestered underground. In addition to this funding, the IIJA allows eligible proposals to take advantage of a secured loan of up to 80% of the project cost. DOE should prioritize geographically diverse projects and be mindful of infrastructure routes already identified by project developers. The federal government should also modernize the NEPA process and couple CIFIA projects with other CCUS programs supported within the IIJA to ensure the deployment of critical CO2 infrastructure.

Direct Air Capture Hubs

Read the memo by Savita Bowman

The IIJA provides $3.5 billion for four regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) hubs, each with the capacity to capture 1 million metric tons (MMt) of CO2 annually. In selecting hub locations, DOE should leverage existing infrastructure and consider co-locating with DOE’s hydrogen hubs and CCUS demonstration sites to leverage pipeline infrastructure. DOE should also set clear timelines and milestones, including ensuring that projects have secured or are working to secure an offtake agreement for their captured CO2 at the time of application.

Energy Storage Demonstration Programs

Read the memo by Alex Fitzsimmons

The IIJA included $505 million for energy storage demonstration projects that were authorized by the Energy Act. DOE should prioritize a diverse portfolio of long-duration, grid-scale energy storage technologies capable of achieving DOE’s performance goals under the Energy Storage Grand Challenge and Storage Shot. Moreover, DOE should develop energy storage technologies that can be manufactured in the U.S. and exported globally, advance technologies that strengthen U.S. energy security and do not depend on supply chains controlled by foreign adversaries, and leverage synergies with other IIJA demonstration programs.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Demonstration Program

Read the memo by Alex Fitzsimmons

The IIJA included $84M for EGS demonstration projects from FY22 to FY25, as authorized by the Energy Act. The Energy Act directed DOE to fund four geothermal demonstration projects for power production or direct use, utilizing diverse geologic settings and development techniques. As such, DOE should prioritize technology diversity, geographic diversity, and use case diversity. DOE should also adopt a milestone-based approach and coordinate with DOE’s new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), as there are several other programs under OCED for which geothermal is eligible to compete for funding.

Industrial Demonstration Program

Read the memo by Alex Fitzsimmons

The IIJA included $500 million for industrial emissions reduction demonstration projects that were authorized by the Energy Act. In the Energy Act, Congress directed DOE to focus on a wide range of industrial processes and technologies, with an emphasis on heavy industrial sectors such as iron and steel, cement and concrete, and chemicals. As such, DOE should focus on developing a demonstration program that is both sector-specific and technology-inclusive. DOE should prioritize investments in heavy industrial sub-sectors, leverage synergies with related DOE demonstration programs, and coordinate the demonstration program with the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s (AMO) proposed Manufacturing USA Institute.

Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub Program

Read the memo by Natalie Houghtalen

The IIJA included multiple hydrogen provisions, including $1 billion for a Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program, $500 million for a Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing program, and $8 billion for Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs. Regarding the hydrogen hubs, DOE should consider awarding more than four hubs (the statutory minimum), pursue a multi-solicitation and milestone-based approach, clarify the role of the DOE National Laboratories, establish thoughtful and realistic deadlines, prioritize projects that focus on multi-sector integration and match hydrogen production with end use, and co-locate the fossil-based hydrogen hubs with the IIJA CCS projects.


Congress’ bipartisan IIJA demonstration programs represent an unprecedented opportunity to scale and de-risk emerging clean energy technologies. With thoughtful implementation that focuses on maximizing the impact of taxpayer resources and upholding the principles of responsible project selection and management, DOE can help position the U.S. to build cleaner faster and lead the world in the commercialization, manufacturing, and export of clean energy for decades to come.

Clean Energy Manufacturing Should be Done in America, Not China

At ClearPath, we’re focused on accelerating technological innovation to advance a cleaner and more reliable energy system. Yet too often, innovative technologies invented in America are scaled and manufactured in foreign countries like China who don’t share our values, or our environmental standards. That’s why we are constantly seeking solutions to make sure clean energy innovation promotes U.S. jobs, growth, and security.

A strong U.S. industrial sector is essential to ensuring new technologies invented in the U.S. can be manufactured domestically, rather than in China, which would result in more jobs and fewer carbon dioxide emissions. Manufacturers employ more than 12 million Americans and account for about one-third of U.S. energy consumption. Those impressive numbers mean the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), the only technology R&D office in the federal government dedicated entirely to improving the energy productivity and competitiveness of the U.S. industrial sector, has an outsized role to play.

With the recent passage of the Energy Act of 2020 and a strong foundation of initiatives seeded in the last few years, AMO is positioned as a unique lever to accelerate clean energy innovation in ways that promote America’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

AMO is Positioned as a Unique Lever to Accelerate Clean Energy Innovation

AMO: The Force Multiplier for Clean Energy Innovation

AMO resides as one of 11 Department of Energy (DOE) technology offices within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE’s total annual funding is more than $2.8 billion, with AMO essentially tied with the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) as EERE’s largest technology offices by budget. AMO has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in recent years, with annual funding rising from $257 million in 2017 to $395 million in 2020, a 53% increase in three years. Given how crucial manufacturing is to our economy, this is the type of targeted, goal-oriented federal investment lawmakers of both parties can support.

I recently served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at DOE, where part of my portfolio included overseeing AMO’s growing budget and staff. AMO is organized around three subprograms: R&D Projects, R&D Consortia, and Technical Partnerships. The consortia portfolio included overseeing AMO’s Manufacturing USA Institutes and Energy Innovation Hubs, public-private partnerships that cover diverse topics from advanced composites, smart manufacturing, and critical materials, among others. It also included establishing two new consortia, one focused on cybersecurity for industrial control systems, and the other on water innovation and security. Through these institutes and hubs, AMO has established a national network of partnerships dedicated to accelerating industrial innovation and strengthening U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

Since 2017, goal-oriented investments for AMO allowed us to strengthen high-impact existing programs while seeding new, cross-cutting initiatives. Most recently, in January 2021, AMO invested more than $123 million in 46 projects across 23 states on a wide range of advanced manufacturing technologies, including more than $20 million for innovative iron and steelmaking processes and another $20 million for carbon capture and direct air capture at industrial facilities – AMO’s first competitive solicitation on carbon capture.

AMO Invested More Than $123 Million in 46 Projects Across 23
States on a Wide Range of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

The following list describes some of the most promising AMO initiatives seeded in the last few years. These initiatives form a foundational investment portfolio for Congress and DOE to build upon to accelerate clean energy innovation across sectors.

Critical Minerals Supply Chain

Energy storage is a crucial lever to integrate variable renewables, improve reliability, and enhance the efficiency of a rapidly evolving electric grid. Yet much of the battery storage supply chain is dominated by China, including the supply of critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium. AMO plays a key role advancing the Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals. Part of that strategy, published in 2019, includes expanding investments across the critical mineral supply chain, from mining to separations, processing, and recycling. AMO conducts R&D in all of these areas, but recently expanded its focus on the separations and processing part of the supply chain, a key weakness that America must overcome to achieve mineral security from China.

In January 2020, AMO awarded more than $50 million in funding for critical minerals separations and processing technologies, including nearly $37 million in demonstration projects – AMO’s first demo-scale critical minerals awards. Building on the success of AMO’s long-running Critical Materials Institute, managed by Ames National Lab, these scale-up projects provide a solid foundation on which AMO can build out a portfolio of critical mineral demonstration projects in the coming years.

Battery Manufacturing

Reducing dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals is just one piece of the battery supply chain. The U.S. must also support a competitive battery manufacturing sector for lithium-ion and advanced battery chemistries. As part of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge (more on that here), AMO has ramped up investments in advanced battery manufacturing technologies. Last year, AMO and VTO co-funded a Battery Manufacturing Lab Call, which provided $15 million in funding to help private sector battery developers de-risk and scale their technologies at the DOE National Lab’s distributed federation of user facilities.

Separately, AMO invested more than $45 million in competitive projects to develop innovative battery manufacturing technologies, including roll-to-roll processing that enables fast, efficient battery production at scale. While a good start, demonstration-scale investments will be needed to de-risk and scale-up a domestic industrial base for advanced batteries.

Battery Recycling

The final challenge of securing America’s battery supply chain lies with addressing the end-of-life. While demand for batteries used in electric vehicles and stationary energy storage will grow dramatically in the coming years, less than 5% of lithium-ion batteries are currently recycled.

To address this growing problem, in 2019 AMO and VTO launched two new programs: the Battery Recycling Prize, a $5.5 million series of prize competitions to spur innovative solutions to battery recycling, and the ReCell Center at Argonne National Lab, the country’s first federal advanced battery recycling R&D center. With cost-effective advanced recycling technologies, the U.S. can mitigate the environmental legacy of spent batteries while reducing our dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals.

By building upon recent AMO investments in critical minerals, battery manufacturing, and battery recycling, Congress and DOE can accelerate the development of a competitive U.S. battery supply chain.

Hydrogen at Scale

EERE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) leads the Department’s H2@Scale program, an initiative to enable affordable hydrogen production and use across multiple sectors, including metals refining, ammonia production, and chemical processes. Achieving the H2@Scale vision requires extensive cross-sector collaboration, which is why DOE recently published its 2020 Hydrogen Program Plan. Co-signed by the DOE Assistant Secretaries for EERE, Fossil Energy, and Nuclear Energy, the Program Plan is a strategic framework to coordinate and accelerate hydrogen RD&D.

The plan includes expanding collaboration with AMO to enable domestic manufacturing of electrolyzers for hydrogen production, hydrogen storage tanks, and fuel cells, among other areas. Most recently, AMO co-funded $22 million in projects focused on electrolyzer manufacturing and enabling the use of hydrogen in steelmaking processes. Implementing the DOE Program Plan, including by expanding AMO’s hydrogen portfolio, will be key to accelerating the hydrogen economy.

Industrial Carbon Capture

While DOE’s Fossil Energy Office leads the Department’s carbon capture portfolio, in 2020, AMO initiated first-ever investments in carbon capture technologies. In January 2021, as part of the massive multi-topic funding opportunity discussed above, AMO awarded $20 million for nine early-stage R&D projects to integrate carbon capture and direct air capture into industrial processes. Led primarily by universities, the projects will provide key insights from which DOE can shape future industrial carbon capture initiatives. Go deeper with this ClearPath Tech 101: Intro to Carbon Capture.

Regional Innovation Hubs

In the last three years, AMO has made substantial investments to expand the capabilities of key user facilities at the DOE National Laboratories. When provided a clear mission and directed to support activities the private sector would otherwise not conduct on its own, DOE’s user facilities can foster hubs of innovation and regional economic development, particularly in parts of the country that often struggle to compete for federal funding. Such facilities include the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, the Critical Materials Institute at Ames National Lab in Iowa, and the Materials Engineering Research Facility at Argonne National Lab in Illinois.

AMO Has Made Substantial Investments to Expand the Capabilities
of Facilities at the DOE National Laboratories

Most recently, AMO provided seed funding for a partnership between Youngstown State University (YSU) in Ohio and Oak Ridge National Lab to establish the Energy Storage Workforce Innovation Center at YSU. The training center will support battery manufacturing research and workforce needs in the “Voltage Valley” region of Northeast Ohio. Strategic infrastructure investments such as these can be leveraged to spur economic growth, attract private sector capital, and promote workforce development across the country.

As clean energy innovation continues to accelerate, America’s manufacturing competitiveness must be a top priority. Americans have seen too many industries and too much intellectual property shipped overseas. In emerging energy technologies, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create and sustain entirely new industries here in America. We can also reduce emissions by returning manufacturing to the U.S., where environmental standards are tougher than in China. But that won’t happen without a sharp focus. Fortunately, in the last few years, AMO has established unique capabilities and seeded new initiatives to position the U.S. for global leadership in advanced manufacturing. The clean energy industries of the future are being created today – the U.S. will either cede or lead.

View more of Our Take and let us know what you think at jaylistens@clearpath.org.

A New Tool In The CO2 Reduction Toolkit: Direct Air Capture (DAC)

Direct Air Capture (DAC) represents exciting opportunities and technologies that a number of great innovators -- as well as some great conservatives -- are adding to the toolkit to lower global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or remove it from the atmosphere.

There are many efforts underway for keeping CO2 from going up into the atmosphere, and ClearPath spends the majority of its time working on technologies that either don’t emit CO2 at all -- think nuclear or renewables like hydropower and geothermal — or technologies that capture all of the CO2 that would have been emitted from power plants and put its back underground.

BUT, there’s already a heck of a lot of extra CO2 up there in the atmosphere. If you have not heard of Direct Air Capture, think of a massive vacuum cleaner that literally sucks carbon dioxide molecules out of the open air. Despite all the interest, this technology is still in it’s very early days. Watch ClearPath’s latest whiteboard video about what’s on the path ahead for DAC.

View more of Our Take and let us know what you think at jaylistens@clearpath.org.