HelioBioSys, Sandia Labs, Berkeley Lab partnering on sugar-producing cyanobacteria for biofuel production

HelioBioSys has patented a group of three marine cyanobacteria that, when grown together, can produce high quantities of sugar just right for making biofuels. Sandia National Laboratories is helping HelioBioSys Inc. learn whether farming them on a large scale would be successful. Until the early 1900s, cyanobacteria were mistaken for... Read more →

Digging into the differences in carbon accounting for biofuels

The benefit to the climate of using biofuels as a substitute for fossil fuels has been sharply contested for years; much of the disagreement is based on the assumptions underlying the carbon accounting in the lifecycle analysis. The argument essentially boils down to whether or not biofuels are inherently carbon... Read more →

A team at the University of Delaware has synthesized renewable jet-fuel-range alkanes by hydrodeoxygenation of lignocellulose-derived high-carbon furylmethanes over ReOx-modified Ir/SiO2 catalysts under mild reaction conditions (170 ˚C, 5 MPa). Their paper is featured on the cover of the journal ChemSusChem. In their work, they found that Ir−ReOx/SiO2 with a... Read more →

California Energy Commission to award up to $3M to support development of bio-oil as intermediate for renewable jet fuel

The California Energy Commission is issuing a solicitation (GFO-17-901) to provide up to $3 million in funding for innovative, pre-commercial low-carbon fuel production processes that result in the development of bio-oil as an intermediate fuel with wide-scale adoption potential used for renewable jet fuel production. For the purpose of the... Read more →

Aemetis has signed a Master Agreement with key exclusive rights for the use of an advanced gasification technology from InEnTec to produce cellulosic ethanol. The InEnTec gasification technology agreement is a key part of Aemetis’ strategy to produce high-value, low-carbon cellulosic ethanol from locally sourced biomass by integrating InEnTec’s patented... Read more →

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... Read more →

Continental reports successful testing of diesel blends with 15% OME synthetic fuel

Continental has successfully conducted tests on the synthetic diesel fuel oxymethylene ether (OME) in test vehicles, including its Super Clean Electrified Diesel vehicle presented this year. Overall, the Continental tests confirmed that diesel fuel containing 15% OME blend for current diesel engines is a technically safe and viable possibility for... Read more →

DOE awarding $40M in FY 2018 to 4 DOE Bioenergy Research Centers; plans for 5 years of funding

US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $40 million in Department of Energy awards for the establishment of four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs), which will provide the scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy. The centers—each led by a DOE National Laboratory or a... Read more →

ExxonMobil and UW Madison extend research collaboration on conversion of biomass to transportation fuels

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and ExxonMobil announced a two-year renewal of an agreement to research the fundamental chemistry of converting biomass into transportation fuels. The research is part of a broad effort to identify scalable and commercially viable solutions to help meet increasing global energy demand with a renewable resource.... Read more →

Researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Michigan State University have devised a way to reduce the amount of enzymes needed to convert biomass into biofuels by designing and genetically engineering enzyme surfaces so they bind less to the lignin in biomass. This potentially could reduce enzyme costs in biofuels production.... Read more →

EPA proposes slight ease in 2018 renewable fuel volumes compared to 2017; gearing up for future reset

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule setting the minimum amount of renewable fuels that must be supplied to the market in calendar year 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program. EPA will issue the final rule in the fall. Relative to the levels finalized in... Read more →

U Minn seeking to license new process to produce isoprene from biomass at high yield; green tires

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, with colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have developed a new high-yield process—a hybrid of fermentation followed by thermochemical catalysis—to produce renewable isoprene from biomass. In the process, fermentation of sugars produces itaconic acid, which undergoes catalytic hydrogenation to produce 3-methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF). The... Read more →

GLBRC research review concludes cellulosic biofuels can benefit the environment if managed correctly

Cellulosic biofuels could provide an environmentally sustainable way of meeting energy needs—but with a few important caveats, according to a new review of research by a team from the US Department of Energy-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). Their paper is published in the journal Science. Although not yet... Read more →

New efficient biphasic catalytic process for conversion of biomass to dense jet-range fuels

Most current bio-jet fuels consist primarily of linear or branched chain alkanes; they suffer from low densities (~0.76 g/mL) and low volumetric heating values compared with those of petro-jet fuels. As a result, most alternative fuels have to blend with petro-jet fuels to meet the energy density requirements. Cyclic hydrocarbons... Read more →

In a large-scale test, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with Lufthansa Technik and the Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels and Lubricants, investigated the chemical and physical properties of particularly promising aviation biofuels. The tests were carried out in a special... Read more →

USDA, DOE to award $9M for bioenergy feedstocks, biofuels and bio-based products

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be made available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to support the development of bioenergy feedstocks, biofuels,... Read more →

Gevo signs definitive supply agreement with HCS Holding for commercial supply of renewable isooctane

Gevo, Inc. has entered into a definitive supply agreement with HCS Holding GmbH (HCS) to supply renewable isooctane (earlier post) under a five-year offtake agreement. HCS is a leading global supplier of high-quality hydrocarbon specialty products. Haltermann Carless, a subsidiary of HCS and one of the oldest companies in the... Read more →

Sugar-derived levulinic esters and cyclic ether show superior anti-knock quality to Euro95 reference gasoline

A team from The Netherlands and the US reports that the sugar-derived levulinic esters methyl levulinate (ML) and ethyl levulinate (EL) and the sugar-derived cyclic ether (furfuryl ethyl ether (FEE) demonstrate superior anti-knock quality (in 10% blends) to a reference Euro95 gasoline. The sugar-derived ethyl tetrahydrofurfuryl ether (ETE), another cyclic... Read more →

U Minn researchers develop bio-based elastomers from recoverable methyl valerolactone; tires, gaskets, seals, etc.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed and demonstrated at laboratory scale a novel process to synthesize low-cost, polymeric valerolactones with tunable mechanical properties and low glass transition temperatures. The glass transition temperature is the temperature region in which a polymer transitions from a hard, glassy material to a... Read more →

US-based biotech startup Amfora and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia) signed an agreement to advance development and commercialization of technology to produce oil in the leaves and stems of plants as well as the seeds. Innovation Leader with CSIRO... Read more →

OSU team developing Gas and Biomass to Liquids (GBTL) technology for production of liquid hydrocarbons

Researchers at Oklahoma State University are developing a novel natural Gas and Biomass to Liquids (GBTL) technology that will synergistically use biomass (e.g. switchgrass and eastern red cedar) and methane to produce liquid hydrocarbons that are compatible with existing infrastructure. The work is led by Dr. Ajay Kumar in collaboration... Read more →

Ghent researchers develop new process to convert grass to drop-in hydrocarbon decane

Researchers at Ghent University have developed a process that turns grass into the hydrocarbon decane via a lactic acid intermediate. The process was the basis for the doctoral dissertation of Way Cern Khor. To improve the biodegradability of grass, pretreatments such as extrusion and calcium hydroxide pretreatment were performed; efficiencies... Read more →

In separate presentations at the 2017 SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium in Detroit, R&D executives from GM and Ford each stressed the importance of improved, advanced fuels—among other technology developments—for their future engine efficiency gains and for long-term CO2 emissions goals. David Brooks, Director for General Motors Global Propulsion... Read more →

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has published a report titled Alternative Aviation Fuels: Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Next Steps. The report provides an overview of the current state of alternative aviation fuels, as reported in findings by recent working groups, and also presents findings from... Read more →

A team at RWTH Aachen University has developed a framework for the model-based formulation of biofuel blends with tailored properties by considering the fuel’s molecular composition as the fundamental design degree of freedom. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. The researchers envision... Read more →

A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has reported the light-driven photoreforming of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin to H2 using semiconducting cadmium sulfide quantum dots in alkaline aqueous solution. The system operates under visible light, is stable beyond six days and is even able to reform unprocessed lignocellulose,... Read more →

Navy researchers produce high-density, high-cetane bio-hydrocarbon fuels from sesquiterpenes; jet and diesel

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake have produced three new high-density, high-cetane biofuels from sesquiterpene feedstocks. In an open-access paper published in the RSC journal Sustainable Energy & Fuels, they describe the preparation of the three fuels from sesquiterpene components of cedarwood oil. The three... Read more →

New biofuel technology is finally starting to push aside traditional biofuels such as first-generation biodiesel, according to a new report by Lux Research. New facilities based on non-food feedstocks and producing novel fuels account for over half of new capacity deployment for the first time in the biofuel industry’s history,... Read more →

Researchers find shade from stand density can cost farmers about 10% of potential crop yield

A team from the University of Illinois has found that compared to top leaves, the shaded lower level leaves of C4 crops planted in dense stands such as corn and Miscanthus underperform, costing farmers about 10% of potential yield. These findings, published in an open-access paper in the Journal of... Read more →

Velocys establishes strategic alliance with TRI for gasification systems for BTL plants

Velocys plc, the developer of smaller scale gas-to-liquids (GTL), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. (TRI), establishing a strategic alliance. TRI—a leading provider of steam reforming gasification systems suitable for woody biomass and other waste feedstocks—will be Velocys’ preferred supplier of gasification systems for its... Read more →

US DOD to award $55M for advanced drop-in biofuels production; 10M gallons/year

The US Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/RX) has issued a funding opportunity (FOA-RQKM-2017-0006) for up to $55 million to design, retrofit, construct, operate, validate and qualify domestic, commercial-scale, an integrated biorefinery(s) capable of producing bio-equivalent fuels suitable for military use with a rated capacity of at... Read more →

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Co-Optima initiative—a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted (earlier post)—has published a year-in-review report for FY 2016—the... Read more →

DOE and USDA issue notice of intent for Biomass Research and Development Initiative

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office, in coordination with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced its intent to issue a Request for Applications (RFA) through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative.... Read more →

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office has published a report, titled Biofuels and Bioproducts from Wet and Gaseous Waste Streams: Challenges and Opportunities. The report is the first comprehensive assessment of the resource potential and technology opportunities provided by wet and gaseous feedstocks, including wastewater treatment-derived sludge... Read more →

DOE and USDA partner to award up to $22.7M for integrated biorefineries

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) jointly announced $22.7 million to support the optimization of integrated biorefineries (IBR). DOE is providing majority funding with up to $19.8 million and USDA-NIFA is providing up to $2.9 million in... Read more →

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released its new strategic plan, titled Strategic Plan for a Thriving and Sustainable Bioeconomy. The strategic plan—with a vision for 2040—lays out BETO’s mission to accomplish its vision in a dynamic setting that realizes changes in the energy landscape, advances in... Read more →

Researchers in China have developed an integrated two-bed continuous flow reactor process for the direct synthesis with high carbon yields (~70%) of dodecanol (C12H26O) or 2,4,8- trimethylnonane (C12H26O2)—a jet-fuel-range C12 branched alkane—from methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), which can be derived from lignocellulose. The dodecanol as obtained can be used as... Read more →

ARPA-E announced up to $25 million in funding for the MacroAlgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program (DE-FOA-0001726). The program will focus on developing advanced cultivation technologies that enable the cost and energy efficient production of macroalgal biomass in the ocean at a scale suitable as feedstock for the... Read more →

DOE to award up to $8M to develop algae-based biofuels

The US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE's) Bioenergy Technologies Office announced a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001628) of up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, for innovative technologies and approaches to help advance bioenergy and bioproducts from algae. This FOA, entitled “Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits,”... Read more →

Global Bioenergies reports first production of green isobutene at demo plant

Global Bioenergies is now entering the final phase of demonstrating its technology for converting renewable carbon into hydrocarbons. The first trials on the demo plant in Leuna were successfully completed, within schedule, in the fall of 2016 and Global Bioenergies announced first production of green isobutene via fermentation. (Earlier post.)... Read more →

Lygos, Inc., a bio-based specialty chemicals company, closed $13 million in Series A financing led by IA Ventures and OS Fund. Other investors include First Round Capital, the Y Combinator Continuity Fund, 50 Years and Vast Ventures, along with notable angel investors. Lygos produces high-value specialty chemical traditionally produced in... Read more →

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have developed a simple inexpensive catalyst system (Amberlyst 15 and Ni/SiO2–Al2O3) to upgrade bio-derived acetone to provide C6, C9, and C12 aliphatic ketones, along with C9, C12, and C15 aromatic compounds. Stepwise hydrodeoxygenation of the produced ketones can yield branched alcohols, alkenes, and alkanes.... Read more →

DOE to issue funding opportunity for integrated biorefinery optimization

DOE to issue funding opportunity for integrated biorefinery optimization The US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001689)... Read more →

WSU Tri-Cities researchers receive $50K NSF grant to test market potential for lignin pathway for biojet

Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities have been awarded a $50,000 National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to explore the commercialization potential of their new pathway for biojet from biomass waste. The WSU process, described in a 2015 paper in the RSC journal Green Chemistry, uses hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of dilute alkali... Read more →

A new study from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that the Renewable Fuel Standard program will miss its advanced biofuel targets due to the the high costs of creating advanced biofuel; the relatively low price of fossil fuel; the timing and cost to bring new tech to commercial-scale... Read more →

Researchers find “zip-lignin” native to multiple plant species; potential for new approaches to degrading lignin for biorefineries

In 2014, researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and their colleagues successfully engineered poplar trees to produce lignin that degrades more easily, thereby lowering the effort and cost to convert wood to biofuel. (Earlier post.) Now, in an open-access paper published in Science Advances, some of... Read more →

UW-Madison and GLBRC team engineers S. cerevisiae to ferment xylose, nearly doubling efficiency of converting biomass sugars to biofuel

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin­-Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) have used directed evolution to nearly double the efficiency with which the commonly used industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae converts plant sugars to biofuel. The resulting improved yeast could boost the economics of making ethanol, specialty biofuels... Read more →

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), together with leading petroleum refining technologies supplier W.R. Grace, and leading pilot plant designer Zeton Inc., built a unique pilot-scale facility that can produce biomass-derived fuel intermediates with existing petroleum refinery infrastructure. This pilot plant, constructed in part with funding from the Bioenergy Technologies... Read more →

Researchers from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology have proposed a new process for the conversion of biomass to gasoline via a one-step DME synthesis (DTG: Dimethyl ether to gasoline). In a paper in the journal Fuel, they report a per-pass conversion of CO and the production capacity... Read more →

NREL lowers biofuel costs through catalyst regeneration and vapor-phase upgrading; R-Cubed

This past June, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in partnership with Particulate Solids Research, Inc. and Springs Fabrication, installed a recirculating regenerating riser reactor (R-Cubed) in the pilot-scale Thermochemical Process Development Unit (TCPDU). Funded by the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), this unique unit represents the next... Read more →