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US DOE soliciting applications for up to $30M for research to advance biochemical conversion of biomass sugars to renewable hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals

Biochemical conversion route for biomass to biofuels. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biomass Program (OBP) is now accepting applications for small-scale process integration projects that support the conversion of biomass sugars to advanced biofuels that will be able to replace gasoline or diesel without requiring special upgrades or changes to the vehicle or fueling infrastructure.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) provides up to $30 million over the next three to four years to support as many as five projects that address the development, improvement and demonstration of integrated bench and/or engineering-scale process technology for the production of substitutes for petroleum-based feedstocks, products and fuels from biomass sugars, which will improve the economics and efficiency of a biochemical or hybrid conversion process.

The projects will focus on optimizing and integrating process improvements could include pretreatment methods that alter the biomass to improve the yield of sugars in subsequent process steps; less costly and more efficient enzymes that produce sugar; and fermentation organisms and catalysts that convert the sugars into fuel and chemical intermediates. Successful applicants will demonstrate the research potential to improve the economics and efficiency of their proposed process.

OBP intends that the process operations to be included within this FOA are limited to pretreatment, hydrolysis, and conversion technologies leading to production of alcohols and other petroleum displacement products. Applications that propose R&D which involves a combination of hybrid chemical and biological conversion processes are acceptable as long as these hybrid systems confer advantages in meeting the goal of improving biomass sugar conversion to biofuels.

Chemical conversion processes will be limited to catalytic conversion and will not include thermochemical processes for the purposes of this FOA. Applications that include thermochemical processes will be considered non-responsive and will not be considered for funding under this FOA. For example, fermentation of syngas from a gasification process will not be considered.

Applicants must identify their target, high-impact feedstock, which is defined as a feedstock that will be sustainably produced, by 2015, at a rate of at least 50 million dry tons of biomass per year. Alternatively, the proposed technology must be shown to have the ability to convert a variety of biomass feedstocks that together represent a total sustainable potential of at least 50 million dry tons of biomass per year. The lignocellulosic biomass sources include agricultural residues such as corn stover, other grain straws, bagasse, soybean matter and wood residues.

Applications proposing to process fiber from wet and dry-grind corn refineries, distillers dried grains and solubles, or other food related biomass be considered non-responsive and will not be considered for funding under this FOA. Use of aquatic-based (fresh water or saline) biomass feedstocks such as algae, seaweed, water hyacinths, invasive aquatic species, etc. will not be considered as viable feedstocks for the purposes of this FOA and proposals that include aquatic-based biomass feedstocks will not be considered for funding under this FOA.


  • Integrated Process Improvements for Biochemical Conversion of Biomass Sugars: From Pretreatment to Substitutes for Petroleum-based Feedstocks, Products and Fuels DE-FOA-0000337



"limited to pretreatment, hydrolysis, and conversion technologies"

This seems limited and focused, but I would hope that they have programs for the other methods as well.

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