The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001124) seeking stakeholder input regarding the 8 representative biofuel technology pathways that the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has selected to guide its Research and Development (R&D) strategy in the near-term.
DOE is also seeking input on other pre-commercial pathways that it should consider in the near- to long-term.
BETO pursues a pathway approach for advancing R&D of converting biomass into renewable fuels and products. BETO has formally initiated an effort to identify innovative pathways to hydrocarbon fuels and intermediates. A suite of pathways were identified and evaluated based on techno-economic potential, technology readiness, potential national impact, and environmental performance. The analysis heavily leveraged existing models and ongoing analysis at the National Labs and was performed using the best available information that DOE had access to at the time.
Based on this analysis, BETO selected 8 representative pathways—covering thermochemical, biochemical, and algal conversion technologies—to guide its R&D strategy in the near term.
BETO considered several criteria when choosing the representative pathways, including: near/mid/Long-term techno-economic potential, including feasibility of achieving the cost goal of $3/gallon; data availability across the full pathway; potential national impact; feedstock availability/flexibility; co-product economics; potential volumetric impact in 2030; and environmental performance.
These representative pathways are:
Biological Conversion of Sugars to Hydrocarbons. Biomass-derived sugars—separated from feedstocks through a series of chemical and biological processes—are further transformed, recovered, and purified to yield hydrocarbons for fuels and co-product commodities.
Catalytic Upgrading of Sugars to Hydrocarbons. Biomass-derived sugars—separated from feedstocks through a series of chemical and biochemical processes—are upgraded via aqueous phase reforming into hydrocarbons for fuels and co-product commodities.
Fast Pyrolysis and Hydroprocessing. Biomass is rapidly heated in a fluidized bed reactor to yield vapors, which are condensed into a liquid bio-oil. This bio-oil is subsequently hydroprocessed to produce hydrocarbon biofuel blendstocks.
Ex-situ Catalytic Pyrolysis. Biomass is rapidly heated in a fluidized bed reactor containing a catalyst to yield vapors, which are catalytically modified and condensed into a partially stabilized and deoxygenated liquid bio-oil. This stable bio-oil is subsequently upgraded to produce hydrocarbon biofuel blendstocks.
In-situ Catalytic Pyrolysis. Biomass is rapidly heated in a fluidized bed reactor containing a catalyst to yield a partially stabilized and deoxygenated bio-oil vapor. The vapor is condensed into a liquid bio-oil and subsequently upgraded to produce hydrocarbon biofuel blendstocks.
Whole Algae Hydrothermal Liquefaction. Bio-oils are separated from water via heat and pressure, so they can be catalytically hydrotreated and converted to advanced hydrocarbon fuels.
Algal Lipid Upgrading. Bio-oils are extracted from algal biomass via high-pressure homogenization and a hexane solvent; the algal oil can then be hydrotreated to produce advanced hydrocarbon fuels.
Syngas Upgrading to Hydrocarbon Fuels. Biomass feedstocks are gasified to produce a clean syngas, which is used as a feedstock for hydrocarbon biofuel production.
The purpose of the new RFI is to solicit input from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on these biofuel pathways selected by BETO. BETO is also looking for input on other pathways to consider. Of specific interest is information related to technology readiness, process design, and economics, preferably from public or referenceable materials.
Responses to the RFI must be submitted electronically to PathwaysRFI@ee.doe.gov no later than 5:00pm (EDT) on 30 May 2014.