The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award (DE-FOA-0001471) up to $15 million in funding to develop technologies that are likely to succeed in producing 3,700 gallons of algal biofuel intermediate (or equivalent dry weight basis) per acre per year (gal/acre/yr) on an annualized average basis (not peak or projected) through multiple batch campaigns or on a semi-continuous or continuous basis, in an outdoor test environment by 2020.
Under this funding opportunity for Advancements In Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2), applicants must address one comprehensive topic area with three main priority areas:
- Strain/productivity improvement
- Improvements in pre-processing technologies (harvesting, dewatering, and extraction and/or equivalent processes)
- Integration of cultivation with pre-processing technologies.
In general, “biofuel intermediates” are biomass-based feedstocks that can replace petroleum-based feedstocks in downstream refining. Biofuel intermediates should be able to be treated as commodities and passed from a producer to a refiner through the supply chain.
Biofuel intermediates can be refined into a variety of liquid transportation fuels such as, but not limited to ethanol, renewable diesel, and renewable jet fuel.
The average yield target of 3,700 gal/acre/yr of intermediate must be achieved under conditions that result in favorable life-cycle greenhouse gas reductions and techno-economic analyses.
The Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) Advanced Algal Systems Program has a goal of demonstrating, at a process development unit scale, algal biofuel intermediate yield of 2,500 gallons per acre per year by 2018 and 5,000 per acre per year by 2022. This FOA is directed at the interim yield between the two target yields and target years.
DOE expects that projects selected under this FOA will be well on their way to demonstrating the 2,500 gal/acre/yr (at a minimum, projects must be able to produce between 1,900 and 2,500 gal/acre/yr on an annualized average basis at the beginning of the proposed project—the project baseline) with a reasonable and realistic plan to produce 3,700 gal/acre/yr by the end of the performance period. The cultivation yield baseline must be supported by the inclusion of relevant experimental data within the application to the FOA.
The yield goals and maximum volumes are based on an open pond cultivation system. There are many other cultivation systems besides the open pond system and the assumptions upon which these yield targets are based. Other cultivation systems, such as photobioreactors, attached growth, and hybrid systems, are encouraged in response to this FOA. Micro and macro‐alga, as well as cyanobacteria are allowed. Mixotrophic systems are also eligible; however, only renewable biomass‐derived sugars such as lignocellulosic sugars or carbon‐ containing waste effluent may be utilized and are considered allowable within this FOA. Food‐ and grain‐based sugars are not allowed. Heterotrophic systems are not eligible.
Background. In 2013, BETO’s Advanced Algal Systems Program issued the first phase of the Advancements in Algal Biomass Yield effort, or ABY, Phase 1. (Earlier post.) The new FOA, Advancements in Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2), builds upon the goals and targets of the Phase 1 effort and capitalizes on advancements in the algal industry and stakeholder engagement during the Phase 1 effort.
The Advanced Algal Systems Program is carrying out a long‐term applied research and development strategy to increase the yields and lower the costs of algal biofuels by working with partners to develop new technologies; to integrate technologies at commercially relevant scales; and to conduct crosscutting analyses to understand the potential and challenges of an algal biofuel industry.
The National Algal Biofuels Roadmap captured the results from the 2008 National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop and serves as guidance on the barriers that hinder the development of high‐impact algal feedstocks that can be converted to advanced biofuels and bioproducts. Many of these barriers are being addressed through projects selected through prior Funding Opportunities.
The Advanced Algal Systems Program also receives feedback and stakeholder input through workshops such as one in November 2013 and the other in March of 2014, the Program Peer Review, and the most recent Request for Information – High Yields Through Productivity and Integration Research (HYPIR – issued in 2015). The BETO Multi Year Program Plan (MYPP) contains the complete Advanced Algal Systems Program strategy to overcoming the barriers to algal biofuels production and commercialization.