The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy is offering up to $88 million total in research and development grants for projects to improve enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and unconventional oil and natural gas production.

DOE said $44 million is available to support projects that would better characterize emerging unconventional plays and help improve the ultimate recovery of oil and gas from them.

“We know we have massive unconventional oil and gas plays across the U.S., but there are still challenges when it comes to characterizing them and improving recovery efficiency,” said DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg. “This funding will support the enabling R&D that can lead to breakthroughs in those areas.”

Another $44 million is available for projects focused on reducing the technical risks associated with EOR and expanding its application to both conventional and unconventional onshore reservoirs. The projects would also improve the understanding of unconventional reservoirs and improve their recovery factors.

While proved reserves of oil and natural gas recently reached record highs of 39.2 billion bbl and 464.3 Tcf, thanks in large part to unconventional development, large volumes are still in the ground and can’t be recovered with current technologies. DOE said the National Energy Technology Laboratory would manage projects selected for the latest round of funding.

Concept papers for the EOR funding must be submitted by Jan. 25, with up to six projects expected to be selected. Full applications for the unconventional resources funding are due by Feb. 25. More information is available on DOE’s website.