DOE awarding up to $13.4M for 5 projects for advanced biofuels and bioproducts 09 October 2014 The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to$13.4 million for five projects to develop advanced biofuels and bioproducts that will help drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from biomass. These products not only will help reduce carbon emissions, but also advance the department’s work to enable the production of drop-in biofuel at $3 per gallon by 2022. The research and development projects will focus on developing integrated processes for the production of advanced biofuels and chemicals. Two of these selections will address research efforts on the efficient conversion of biogas (a mixture of gases generated from the biological breakdown of organic material) to valuable products other than power. • Vertimass LLC of Irvine, California will receive up to$2 million to commercialize technology to convert ethanol into diesel fuel, gasoline, and jet fuel blend stocks compatible with the current transportation fuel infrastructure.

Vertimass licensed an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) technology that directly converts ethanol under moderate conditions at one atmosphere without the use of hydrogen into a hydrocarbon blend-stock. (Earlier post.)

The technology developed by ORNL’s Chaitanya Narula, Brian Davison and Associate Laboratory Director Martin Keller uses an inexpensive zeolite catalyst to transform ethanol into a blend-stock consisting of a mixture of C3 – C16 hydrocarbons containing paraffin, iso-parrafins, olefins, and aromatic compounds with a calculated motor octane number of 95. Fractional collection of the fuel product allows for the different fractions to be used as blend-stock for gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.

• The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a conversion process demonstrating the production of muconic acid from biogas. This dicarboxylic acid can be converted into an array of bioproducts, including fuel, plasticizers, and lubricants. Muconic acid has garnered significant interest due to its potential use as a platform chemical for the production of several valuable consumer bio-plastics including nylon-6,6 and polyurethane (via an adipic acid intermediate) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (via a terephthalic acid intermediate). Researchers have been exploring the microbial synthesis of muconic acid from renewable carbon sources. • Natureworks, LLC of Minnetonka, Minnesota will receive up to$2.5 million to develop a fermentation process, using biogas and bacteria, for the production of lactic acid. This process could be used for the commercialization of biomethane to fuels.

• The University of Wisconsin of Madison, Wisconsin will receive up to $3.3 million to develop a process to produce high value chemicals from biomass, which can be used as plasticizers (an additive in certain plastics) and in the production of industrial chemicals and resins. • American Process, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia will receive up to$3.1 million to develop and demonstrate processes to upgrade cellulosic sugars to solvents in their demonstration facility.