ARPA-E Archived Funding Opportunities

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  DE-FOA-0002599 Request for Information (RFI) DE-FOA-0002599 on Technology Advancements for Subsurface Exploration for Renewable Energy Resources or Carbon Storage Request for Information (RFI) TBD TBD

DE-FOA-0002599: Request for Information (RFI) DE-FOA-0002599 on Technology Advancements for Subsurface Exploration for Renewable Energy Resources or Carbon Storage

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit input for a potential future ARPA-E research program focused on technologies that enable high-resolution, wide-area subsurface mapping in order to identify opportunities for renewable energy technologies and the future low-carbon economy. Examples where advances in subsurface imaging will be critical include, but are not limited to, locating reservoirs for carbon capture and storage (CCS), identifying new geothermal sites, mapping natural accumulations of energy-relevant minerals, and assessing potential resources of geologic hydrogen. The goal is to better understand how subsurface imaging technologies today may need to expand, adapt, or improve beyond technologies which have been optimized for oil and gas exploration. ARPA-E is seeking information at this time regarding the state of the art in subsurface imaging technologies and transformative and implementable technologies that could:

1. Reduce frontier exploration costs for renewable energy or carbon storage projects by an order of magnitude or more, leveraging advancements in subsurface imaging, data collection, and data processing. For new renewable technologies or CCS projects, identifying potential geologic sites with the requisite properties requires honing in on sites from a much larger region, often in areas that have not been traditionally explored by oil and gas interests and where there is little prior high-quality imaging data. Isolating regions of interest could mean developing new, cost-effective wide-area subsurface exploration technologies, using a combination of imaging techniques paired with multi-physics models, using data processing or novel geostatistical methods to upgrade or augment existing datasets, and/or developing machine learning algorithms which can fill in data gaps.

2. Advance data processing to accommodate larger amounts of data and reduce processing time by orders of magnitude for wide-area and/or nationwide subsurface imaging surveys.

3. Dramatically improve project success rates. Successful technologies would result in outcomes such as reduced incidence of dry wells in geothermal energy projects or identification of new energy-relevant mineral deposits. These outcomes can be facilitated by acquiring higher-quality and/or more comprehensive data in order to discern sites with high probability factors.

4. Monitor dynamic changes in the subsurface over time (4D mapping) with more sensitive surveys techniques, more comprehensive models, and/or algorithms. ARPA-E expects that subsurface changes of interest to renewable energy or CCS projects (e.g. changes in rock morphology, active water-rock chemical reactions, fluid migration, fracture network development, biological processes) may be different than those typically modelled for the oil and gas industry and that current models may need to be expanded to include these processes.

5. Reveal opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, combining the expertise of groups that traditionally do not interact, in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of dynamic geologic processes.

Note that some approaches may accomplish several of the listed items above. For example, reducing frontier exploration costs could help de-risk new energy projects. Likewise, interdisciplinary collaboration could result in a paradigm shift that would introduce new technologies or methodologies for subsurface exploration.

Responses to this RFI should be submitted in PDF format to the email address ARPA-E-RFI by 5:00 PM Eastern time on December 1, 2021.


Respondents shall not include any information in the response to this RFI that could be considered proprietary or confidential.


  • RFI DE-FOA-0002599_Subsurface Characterization (Last Updated: 10/21/2021 12:19 PM ET)

Submission Deadlines

  • Concept Paper Submission Deadline: TBD
  • Full Application Submission Deadline: TBD