Friday, March 6, 2009

Transcendent power is natural resource for ARPA-E

By Steve Hammons

The new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) has been allocated $400 million in the stimulus package to conduct research and development on innovations to optimize our energy resources and options.

Part of ARPA-E’s challenge will be technological – identifying, analyzing and funding promising advanced energy technologies and approaches of various kinds.

Another task will be educating and communicating with the American people, the media, the administration, Congress, businesses, other governmental entities and additional stakeholders about ARPA-E’s efforts and directions.

In these fundamental tasks, ARPA-E can make good use of certain aspects of "transcendent power" – a concept that incorporates leading-edge research, emerging discoveries, information acquisition, human awareness and perception, soft-power communication and other components.


The terms transcendent power and smart power have sometimes been used in connection with military, diplomatic and international contexts, including in relation to the ideas of soft power and transcendent warfare.

However, we can also apply the basic concepts of transcendent power and smart power to a wide range of human activities, including those of ARPA-E and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The terms transcendent power and smart power can also refer to smart energy that transcends previous sources, usage and technologies.

As we know, energy security is directly connected to military security, international peace, global economics and human development around the world.

So, applying transcendent warfare, transcendent power and smart power concepts to energy-related challenges (and a variety of other fields) makes sense.

Since transcendent power also refers to the human creativity, knowledge, discovery, education, communication and leading-edge research of many kinds, transcendent power and transcendent energy R&D go hand in hand.


ARPA-E, like its namesakes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the newly-formed Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), will fund shorter-term and longer-view strategic R&D.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu plans to get the ARPA-E staff moving on the distribution of R&D funds to promising projects in renewable energy, biofuels, “smart-grid” technologies, efficiencies, development of advanced batteries and other goals.

In addition to the $400 million for ARPA-E project funding, the stimulus package also includes approximately $43 billion for a variety of technology, power grid and energy efficiency activities.

In the American southwest with its nearly-constant sunshine and vast open spaces, solar power looks promising.
In farming regions, use of certain low-cost, high-yield crops and agricultural waste products could be part of biofuel solutions. New products, devices and technologies for vehicles, homes, businesses and industries are also being developed.

Recently, DARPA provided $35 million to the San Diego-based companies SAIC and General Atomics to research and develop the jet fuel JP-8 created from algae.

According to published reports, algae-based jet fuel R&D is a focus for several companies in San Diego as well as a local research consortium, the Scripps Research Institute, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and University of California San Diego.

R&D into solar, biofuel, algae-based jet fuel and many other activities can all be considered part of transcendent power and transcendent energy in a variety of ways.

As we learn more about the many elements of transcendent power, our understanding of the future potential in the fields of energy, discovery, insight, knowledge and R&D of many kinds may surprise us with the rich possibilities on the horizon.