DOE seeks information on enhancing algal biofuel intermediate yields for biofuel production
27 June 2012
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000745) to solicit information on the development of algae production and downstream processing technology to enhance the yield of algal biofuel intermediate products. The DOE Office of the Biomass Program (OBP) considers “biofuel intermediates” to be biomass-based products that can be treated as commodities and passed from a producer to a refiner through the supply chain, being finished as a biofuel.
In the case of algae, an intermediate would be the end result of cultivation, concentration, and pre-processing of the algal biomass into a feedstock for the refining process. DOE has identified low intermediate biomass yields as a key driver of the high cost of algal biofuels because of the high capital investment projected as necessary to achieve commercial-scale volumes of biofuel. Increased yields would both decrease the total amount of capital needed, and better utilize capital investment.
This RFI provides algae stakeholders with an opportunity to help inform the development of OBP’s strategic plans, requirements, and metrics for a potential research and development (R&D) program focused on enhancing the yield of algal biofuel intermediates. DOE is interested in stakeholders’ input regarding multiple types of algae, including microalgae, cyanobacteria, and macroalgae.
Specifically, the OBP requests information from algal biofuel developers to help establish appropriate scope, scale, and metrics for consideration in developing two topics:
Reductions in Downstream Processing Costs. The overall goal of this topic is to achieve a target of 40% reduction in the modeled CAPEX and OPEX costs for downstream processes for harvesting and extraction from the 2012 baseline. “Downstream processes” refer to unit operations outside but co-located with the cultivation system that may serve to harvest, concentrate, and process algae in preparation for conversion to biofuel.
Improved Algal Biomass Productivity. The overall goal of this topic is to support development of algae strains and cultivation techniques that allow for the achievement of a target annual average algal biomass productivity of 35 grams per meter squared per day of ash free dry weight (35 g m-2 d-1 AFDW) in outdoor cultivation environments relevant to commercial scales.
Specifically, OBP seeks information (data, metrics, and processes) on several questions related to algal biofuel technologies and input on the role of DOE in increasing algal biofuel yields.
Responses need to be submitted by 1 August 2012.
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