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DOE to award up to $10M for Bioenergy Technologies Incubator 2; provides $4M to two additional biofuel projects
28 August 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001320)for up to $10 million to advance the production of advanced biofuels, substitutes for petroleum-based feedstocks and bioproducts made from renewable, non-food-based biomass, such as algae, agricultural residues, and woody biomass. This work supports the Energy Department’s efforts to make drop-in biofuels more accessible and affordable, as well as to meet the cost target equivalent of $3 per gallon of gasoline by 2022.
The new funding will support projects in two topic areas: Topic Area 1 awards (anticipated at 2–4 selections) will range from $1–$2 million and focus on the development of novel, non-incremental technologies that facilitate the goals of the Algae Program, but are not represented in a significant way in the current Algae Project Portfolio.
Topic Area 2 awards (anticipated at 3–6 selections) will range from $1–$2 million and will focus on the development of novel, non-incremental technologies that facilitate the goals of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), but are not represented in a significant way in the current Terrestrial Feedstocks Supply and Logistics Program or the Conversion Technologies Program.
BETO has targeted a performance goal of validating, at pilot scale, at least one technology pathway for hydrocarbon biofuel at a mature modeled cost of $3/GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) with GHG emissions reduction of 50% or more compared to petroleum-derived fuel by 2017, and validating two additional pathways by 2022.
These high level strategic and performance goals are expanded in further detail in BETO’s multi-year program plan (MYPP). BETO most recently updated its MYPP in March 2015. The MYPP identifies many technical barriers that must be overcome through research, development and deployment in order for BETO to meet these overall strategic and performance goals. BETO has issued several FOAs to address the technical barriers delineated in the MYPP, and has done so in a way to focus its resources in a limited number of pathways/approaches to ensure that the program initiatives are supported at a critical mass (both in terms of dollars and time) for maximum impact and for the highest probability of success.
However, BETO recognizes that there may be very novel and potentially disruptive ideas that do not necessarily satisfy the requirement of specific FOAs yet still meet BETO’s goals and mission. The Bioenergy Incubator Program is intended to identify these potentially impactful ideas that are not meaningfully addressed in BETO’s strategic plan or project portfolio. It is not intended to fund projects that are incremental improvements to current products or processes or for established work in BETO’s strategic plan or current portfolio.
BETO is issuing this Incubator 2 FOA to support innovative technologies and solutions that could help meet existing goals but are not currently represented in a significant way in the BETO’s MYPP and current project portfolio.
Additional projects selected for funding. The Energy Department also announced two additional projects selected to receive up to $4 million to develop next-generation biofuels that will help reduce the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels from biomass. These projects—in addition to five projects previously selected in October 2014 under the same funding opportunity (earlier post)—total a $17.3 million investment by the Department to develop technologies that will enable the production of clean, renewable, and cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon of gasoline equivalent by 2022.
These latest two competitively selected research and development projects will focus on lowering biofuel production costs by converting lignin to valuable products other than heat and power. The projects selected include:
Texas A&M University will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a single-unit process to convert lignin for increased utilization in the production of bioplastics.
Ohio University will receive up to $1.5 million to develop a continuous flow electrochemical reactor that upgrades biorefinery waste lignin to bio-based phenol substitutes with cogeneration of hydrogen.