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DOE Awarding Funds for Research on Turning Buildings Into ‘Carbon Sinks’

Funding innovation

DOE Awarding Funds for Research on Turning Buildings Into ‘Carbon Sinks’

The Department of Energy announced that it is investing $39 million to fund 18 projects aimed at developing technologies that can transform buildings into net carbon storage structures. Awardees for the Harnessing Emissions Into Structures Taking Inputs from the Atmosphere program will focus on overcoming barriers associated with carbon-storing buildings, including scarce, expensive and geographically limited building materials, the DOE said Monday.

In a statement, the department said that the HESTIA program is being led by its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy arm in line with President Joe Biden’s plan to reach zero emissions by 2050. The objective is to increase the total amount of carbon stored in buildings, effectively creating “carbon sinks” for absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than what is released during the construction process.

Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm said the program offers researchers a unique opportunity to advance the development of clean energy materials to help decarbonize the construction sector, which is responsible for roughly 10 percent of the country’s total annual emissions.

Among those being funded is the National Renewable Energy Lab, which will receive almost $2.5 million to develop cost-effective, bio-based insulation. The lab’s researchers propose combining cellulose with mycelium, the root network of fungi, to create a new class of high-performing, carbon-capturing and storing foams and composites.

Also being funded is Purdue University, which proposes the development of a composite panel that contains bio-derived natural fibers exhibiting mechanical and functional properties while maintaining a carbon-negative footprint. The university will be receiving $2 million for developing technology to enable interior building surfaces to be carbon negative.

The DOE stressed that greenhouse gas emissions associated with material manufacturing and construction, renovation, and the eventual demolition of buildings are concentrated at the start of their lifetime.

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