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A Utah company, Ceramatec Inc., has been awarded two U.S. Department of Energy grants to pursue the development of its cutting-edge research.

The two grants worth a combined $3.8 million are part of 66 research projects chosen by the DOE's Advanced Research Project Agency to receive a total of $130 million in funding.

Ceramatec, which focuses its research and development efforts on advanced ceramics material technology that can be used in the energy and environmental industries, will receive more than $1.7 million to develop a small-scale membrane reactor to convert natural gas into transportable liquids in one step.

The ARPA noted that many remote oil wells burn natural gas as a by-product because it is not economical to store or transport. Such natural gas contains energy that equals 20 percent of annual U.S. electricity product and capturing that energy would reduce both waste and green house gas emissions.

Ceramatec also will receive over $2.1 million to develop a solid-state fuel cell that operates at temperature ranges similar to internal combustion engines.

The ARPA said the company's design would allow for low-cost materials and catalysts that demonstrate high performance without the need for expensive components. The project will involve Ceramatec engineering a fuel cell "stack" that performs at lower cost than current automobile engine designs.

The 66 project selected to receive funding were chose through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of applications. The projects are based in 24 states, with approximately 47 percent of the project led by universities, 29 percent by small businesses, 15 percent by large businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs and 1.5 percent by non-profits.

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