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DOE announces $10M for upgrading technologies for production of renewable drop-in fuels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced up to $10 million in funding to advance the development, improvement and demonstration of integrated biological or chemical upgrading technology for the production of substitutes for petroleum‐based feedstocks, products and fuels. (DE-FOA-0001085).

The DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has funded research on biochemical conversion processes since 2007, with particular focus on the development of improved cellulases and fermentative organisms for ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks. EERE is seeking to diversify the BETO portfolio to include a variety of chemical and biological upgrading technologies for the production of a suite of hydrocarbon fuels, fuel intermediates and chemicals (beyond ethanol) to be produced in an integrated fashion from biologically or chemically derived intermediate feed streams, such as but not limited to cellulosic sugars, lignocellulose derivatives, lignin, cellulosic alcohols, bio‐solids and biogases.

This supports DOE’s efforts to make drop-in biofuels more accessible and affordable, as well as meet the cost target equivalent of $3.00 per gallon of gasoline by 2022.

The targets of the research will address carbon and conversion efficiencies (including but not limited to: yield, titer, intermediate utilization) around the production of biofuels and biomass‐derived chemicals.

EERE is requesting applications related to the following two topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Process development and optimization of a single-unit operation for the upgrading of chemically or biologically derived intermediates to fuels and products. Single step biological or chemical upgrading processes will be the focus of this topic area.

  • Topic Area 2: Process development and optimization of multiple-unit operations for the upgrading and separations of chemically or biologically derived intermediates to fuels and products. Hybrid chemical and biological upgrading processes with the integration of separation steps will be the focus of this topic area.

If R&D on a separation process is proposed, the total project funding available for capital equipment requirements will be limited to 50% of the total project costs, DOE said.

All new related biological and chemical upgrading concepts, ideas and approaches will be considered, although thermochemical pathways will not.

Types of applications specifically deemed non‐responsive—i.e., they will not be reviewed or considered—include:

  • Applications that propose upgrading processes for pyrolysis oil and syngas.

  • Applications that propose technologies that are not based on sound scientific principles (e.g., violate the law of thermodynamics).

  • Applications that propose the production of C1 or C2 molecules (i.e., ethanol, biogas) and biodiesel produced from transesterification or hydrotreating or hydrocracking of agronomic, natural plant oils (e.g., soybeans, palm, coconut, safflower, castor, algal). (While ethanol and biogas are unacceptable final products, they will be accepted as process intermediates for upgrading to other advanced biofuels and products, if derived from applicable biomass sources.)

  • Applications that propose the use of pure sugar feeds and/or ‘model’ intermediate feeds such as avicel, cane and starch sugar. Additionally lignocellulosic sugars will not be accepted as a fuel intermediates or final products under this FOA. (It is expected that the baseline validation, stage gate and final validations will be performed on cellulosic derived intermediates.)

  • Applications that propose aquatic species as any or all of the feedstocks. Examples include algae, seaweed, water hyacinths, etc.

EERE may issue one, multiple, or no awards; individual awards may vary between $1,000,000 and $3,500,000.


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