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DOE issues RFI on algae biomass supplies for advanced biofuels RD&D efforts

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.



It is hardly suprising that the economics cannot stack up against mature large scale fossil fuel extraction.
It would likely compete well though in a decarbonised, pollution mitigation scenario. Those pollutants could include numerous waste streams and water purification assets.
It's a matter of placing an appropriate value on non polluting and pollution mitigation through carbon price and pollution permits that are mostly either unpriced, underpriced, ad hoc and unrecognised.

Animal and by extension human food and mineral products will likely become more important in the future with pharmaceutical industries requiring large(r) volumes of consistent product.
As the growing and nurturing of algae will require supporting technical expertise,one could easily place higher emphasis on quality control with the intention of strict quality assurance.
There are exiting opportunities in social and intellectual development beyond the lowest possible cost.
There are therefore two ends to this industry as identified by most players, without a proper recognition and utilisation of both, the economics will remain niche.


Exxon advertises their algae program, their CEO was quoted as saying that they are not big in renewable energy because it will not make much of a difference. I guess it will not if large companies just make token efforts.


The cost of fossil fuel has steadily risen and will continue to do so even without a carbon tax. This is due to increasing demand from developing countries and from rising cost of exploration and development.

Algae can be grown in fresh or salt water and there is much research into species that produce large volumes of lipid or alcohol. This resource WILL be economically viable if the trends continue and there are some primary improvements in algal farming.

Good to see DOE recognizing this potential and being pro-active.


We need progress on ALL fronts. The drill baby drill crowd has only one note in their song and it makes for a so called solution that will fail and they should know that.


Thanks for bringing this to my attention! Any tips on how to find this RFI? I went to the link in the story, and there is not an option to choose this particular RFI under Public Opportunities in FedConnect.

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