The below article, by Jessica Leber for Co.Exist, makes for an interesting read about a government project I hadn't heard of before: the Department of Energy's ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy).
Here's a bit of background on ARPA-E, directly from their factsheet:
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) catalyzes transformational energy technologies that could create a more secure and affordable American future. We advance high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy.
ARPA-E projects have the potential to radically improve U.S. economic prosperity, national security, and environmental well-being. We focus on transformational energy technology projects that can be meaningfully advanced with a small investment over a defined period of time. Our streamlined awards process enables us to act quickly and advance cutting-edge areas of energy research.
ARPA-E empowers America’s energy researchers with funding, technical assistance, and market readiness. Our rigorous program design, competitive project selection process, and active program management ensure thoughtful expenditures. ARPA-E Program Directors serve for limited terms to ensure a constant infusion of fresh thinking and new perspectives.
Given their focus on technological innovation and next-generation breakthroughs, this high-concept research division has drawn parallels to the Department of Defense's DARPA initiative, and you can check out their current list of more than 300 projects here.
Also worth a listen: Acting Director Cheryl Martin on NPR's Science Friday.