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DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office updates 5-year program plan; commercially viable hydrocarbon biofuel technologies by 2017; <$3/GGE

BETO high-level schedule. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BTO) has updated its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP), which delineates the goals and structure of the office. BTO is one of the 10 technology development offices within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at DOE.

The MYPP identifies the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) activities the Office will focus on over the next five years and explains why these activities are important. The MYPP is intended for use as an operational guide to help BETO manage and coordinate its activities, as well as a resource to help communicate its mission and goals to stakeholders and the public.

BETO’s overarching strategic goal is to develop commercially viable bioenergy and bioproduct technologies to enable the sustainable, nationwide production of biofuels that are compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure; can reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-derived fuels; and can displace a share of petroleum-derived fuels to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and encourage the creation of a new domestic bioenergy industry.

The Office’s high-level schedule aims for development of commercially viable renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet technologies by 2017 through R&D, and enables a trajectory toward long-term renewable fuels goals. Overall performance goals are:

  • By 2017, validate, at a pilot scale, at least one technology pathway for hydrocarbon biofuel production at a mature modeled price of $3/GGE with GHG emissions reduction of 50% or more compared to petroleum fuel.

  • By 2022, validate hydrocarbon biofuels production from at least two additional technology pathways at a pilot or demonstration scale (>1 ton/day).

BETO organizes its portfolio according to the biomass-to-bioenergy supply chain—from the feedstock source to the end user, with the major focus on feedstock supply and biomass conversion. Key components of the portfolio include:

  • R&D on sustainable, high-quality feedstock supply systems;

  • R&D on biomass conversion technologies;

  • Demonstration and validation of integrated biorefinery technologies up to industrial scale; and

  • Cross-cutting sustainability, analysis, and strategic communications activities.

Multi-year performance goals are:

Click to enlarge.

BETO multi-year milestones f0r 2013-2022 are:

Click to enlarge.



I can't believe how we are in deep troubles concerning energy and petrol consumption and pollution. All of that is unsustainable, it's sure that we gonna run out of oil some day and all other methods of energy are unsuficiant . We should focus on hydrogen done by water electrolysis. We should discover a method to electrolyse the water efficiently and with that we can replace petrol completely contrary to batteries that cannot replace petrol because with hydrogen done by water electrolysis we can do fuel and plastics and all king of products that we do with petrol.


"..development of commercially viable renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet technologies by 2017.."

We are on our way towards having bio synthetic gasoline from biomass like corn stover through thermal chemical gasification and synthesis. This is what I have written about on here for 5 years.

My vision was a bio processing plant every 10 x 10 mile section of farm land. You do not move the biomass far and the fuel can be piped out to distribution. The three cellulose ethanol plants in Iowa and Kansas by POET, Dupont and Abengoa are a start, they are showing what can be done.


SJC: I just looked at the Dupont cellustic ethonal website. The plan is for 30 million gallons per year. That is the equivalent of ~2500 barrels of oil per day. Assuming it all works as hoped:

The CAPEX on the plant is $200 million. The US consumes around 18 million barrels of oil per day => USA needs ~ 5000 of these plants => CAPEX of around 1 trillion dollars.

Looking at it another way, if we assume a 5% interest rate on the CAPEX, interest payments alone require a selling price of $3 per gallon.

So my guess is that Biofuels needs to reduce their CAPEX by at least a factor of two. This appears reasonable as this is the first of its kind. Subsequent plants will almost certainly be cheaper.

However its not clear that the USA has sufficient land of the quality needed to supply those 5000 BioFuel plants.

On the other hand if the goal is to supply 20% of US current needs via Biofuels, this looks reasonable.


Hmm looking at it another way, the USA spends ~0.6 trillion dollars per year on oil (if Oil costs $100 per barrel). In that light, trillion dollar investments in Biofuel plants looks reasonable.

Roger Pham

Biomass alone is not sufficient to satisfy USA's petrol demand, however, when renewable-energy Hydrogen is added to the biomass during pyrolysis, whereby the Hydrogen will contribute 1/2 of the energy to the resultant fuel and hence will double the fuel yield for a given amount of biomass, then there may be a chance.

Meanwhile, clean-air regulations in many metropolis encourage the growth of ZEV's like BEV and FCEV, and that will spare some future petrol/liquid fuel consumption.

CAPEX for small pilot plants will be much higher than that of large plants built in large numbers. All the associated costs are figured in to the final estimated cost per GGE, and the prospect for synthetic biofuels looks good.


There is "bolt on" technology for the 200 ethanol plants in the U.S. They can add cellulose processing to make sugars out of corn stalks then ferment them in the same plant, reducing costs.

I never said the U.S. would provide ALL our transportation fuels using biomass, the all or nothing argument makes no sense. Reducing oil imports and fossil carbon emissions even 10% is a good goal.


Our HEVs already use 35% less liquid fuel than the equivalent ICEVs used to do!

2015-2016 Prius will do >55 mpg, i.e. >2X better than the current USA fleet.

Of course, many PHEVs can do another 2X better.

BEVs and FCEVs will do the rest?

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