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With ideas that are so new, fundamental discovery is often the first step needed in research. As part of its strategy to build a diverse portfolio of innovative technologies, GCEP provides up to $100,000 in funding for research activities of an exploratory nature that test the feasibility and application of potential step-out ideas. During a one-year performance period, these activities focus on novel approaches and innovative concepts associated with technologies that lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale. To date, GCEP has funded 35 exploratory efforts. Based on initial results, close to a third of these have successfully gone on to be funded as three-year GCEP research programs, including some that set out to develop new transparent electrodes for photovoltaics, produce hydrogen from glucose in a cell-free manner and integrate coal energy conversion with aquifer-based carbon sequestration.

This year, GCEP awarded four exploratory research grants to Stanford faculty for promising proposals in the areas of transportation, energy storage, artificial photosynthesis and advanced combustion.