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DOE announces additional MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels award; $1.8M for deconstruction of biomass

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will award a fourth project up to $1.8 million under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels Funding Opportunity. In August 2016, DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) selected three projects for an initial round of funding. (Earlier post.) The total funding for the four MEGA-BIO awards is $13.1 million.

DOE selected Michigan State University to manage the fourth project, which will work in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MBI International to optimize a two-stage process for deconstruction of biomass into two clean intermediate streams: sugars for the production of bio-hydrocarbon fuels and lignins for the production of multiple value-added chemicals.

Lignin can be utilized as a renewable source for creating valuable aromatic chemicals, which have various industrial applications and can be used as the building blocks for fragrances, flavors, and novel bio-based foams and adhesives.

The project will work to overcome several existing challenges, such as lignin’s low susceptibility to depolymerization, to help capture its full potential as an economically viable feedstock for renewable chemicals.

All four projects are supporting the development of biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can produce variable amounts of fuels and/or products based on external factors, such as market demand.

Producing high-value bioproducts alongside cost-competitive biofuels has the potential to support a positive return on investment for a biorefinery through converting biomass to where it is most impactful. Producing value-added co-products is an approach to achieving DOE’s strategic goal of producing hydrocarbon fuels at $3/gasoline gallon equivalent.

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