The US Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking input from industry, academia, and other biofuels stakeholders regarding supply systems and services for the production, handling, storage, transport and delivery of algae via a new Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000466). DOE may use the information in support of program planning and may determine to issue a formal Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for this area.
Fuels derived from algal biomass qualify as advanced biofuels. Although algal biofuels have tremendous potential, no commercial entity today can yet produce algal biofuels at a cost that is competitive with petroleum-derived fuels, DOE notes. DOE’s National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap report, released publicly in June 2010, highlights some of the commercialization opportunities and challenges for algae. (Earlier post.)
DOE intends to address barriers highlighted in the roadmap that can directly impact the cost and sustainability of producing algal biofuels at commercial scale. Toward this end, the Program is investing in various algal biomass and biofuels production research, development, and demonstration projects (RD&D). Reliable and readily available supplies of sufficient volumes and varieties of algae biomass and metabolites are currently lacking and are needed to support current and anticipated RD&D program efforts, DOE says.
The DOE Office of Biomass Program is interested in responses that address one or more of the following parts:
Near-term Production and Supply of Algal Biomass. This section of the RFI is focused on obtaining information on the approaches, facilities, equipment, and processes that could be used to enable the near-term establishment of algal biomass production and supply services.
Downstream Algal Biomass Requirements. This section of the RFI is focused on obtaining information on requirements for algal biomass supplies to support downstream operations such as dewatering, extraction, separation, conversion and/or end-use (e.g., refineries, animal/aquaculture feed producers) facilities.
Non-Destructive Production of Advanced Biofuels or Intermediate Metabolites. Algae may also be developed, grown, and maintained in culture systems capable of operating in a manner that allows for the extracellular secretion, or non-destructive extraction (milking) and separation of metabolite from the cells and supporting culture media. Such metabolites may be advanced biofuels, or may be in the form of intermediates that can easily be converted to advanced biofuels with further processing.R DOE is seeking responses from technology developers who operate or wish to operate this form of non-destructive production and separation of algal metabolites for advanced biofuels, and/or who wish to process the metabolites into finished fuels. DOE is not seeking responses from technology developers of artificial photosynthetic routes to fuels (even if the photocomplexes were bio-derived or biomimetic) which are outside of the scope of the current RFI.