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DOE BETO awards $10M to 7 advanced biofuels projects

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has selected seven projects to receive up to $10 million to support innovative technologies and solutions to help advance the development of advanced biofuels, including bugaboo and drop-in hydrocarbons.

The Bioenergy Technologies Office is working to produce cost-competitive ($3/gallon of gasoline equivalent) advanced biofuels from non-food biomass resources that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more versus petroleum-based alternatives. These newly selected projects are intended to support this effort.

BETO awards
Organizations Description Funding (up to)
Metabolix in collaboration with North Carolina State University Develop a non-genetically modified, non-food feedstock, Camelina sativa, with significantly increased seed yield and oil content to maximize oil yields per acre, thereby enabling the widespread use of a currently underutilized non-food feedstock.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in collaboration with MicroBio Engineering Develop a process to produce microalgae directly from CO2 in air at high productivities, thereby decoupling algal growth from CO2 sources.
The Ohio State University in collaboration with the University of Alabama and Green Biologics Develop a cellulosic butanol production process with high productivities, yields, and carbon conversion through novel metabolic engineering of two different pathways.
The University of California, Riverside in collaboration with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and CogniTek Further develop a co-solvent pretreatment for high yields of clean fuel precursor fractions that can significantly improve downstream chemical catalytic upgrading to final biofuel additives.
OPX Biotechnologies Develop the production of cost-competitive C8 fatty acid derivatives (which can readily be converted to high-performance lubricants and synthetic oils) from cellulosic sugars via novel metabolic engineering pathways.
Kiverdi in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Further develop processes and genetic tools to produce hydrocarbons in previously unengineered bacteria that directly utilize biomass-derived syngas for growth.
The Gas Technology Institute in collaboration with W.R. Grace and Company and Michigan Technological University Develop a process to catalytically convert biomass and methane into hydrocarbon liquid fuels and chemicals at high yields, while simultaneously decreasing hydrogen consumption.

President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request submitted earlier this month included $246 million for BETO—a $21-million increase from BETO’s enacted budget for FY 2015. This increase was across all Office programs: Feedstocks, Conversion Technologies, Demonstration and Market Transformation (new title; formerly “demonstration and deployment”), and Strategic Analysis and Cross-Cutting Sustainability.

Specific proposed changes in BETO program activities include the following:

  • Feedstocks (including Algae): Increased funding will be applied to the FY 2016 Algal Biomass Yield Phase 2 funding opportunity for up to three facilities to reduce the risk of scaling up to achieve 2,500 gallon/acre annual average yields of biofuel intermediate oil at the one-acre cultivation equivalent scale.

  • Conversion Technologies: The increase reflects a greater emphasis on preparing to conduct validation activities at a scale above bench scale with process integration to meet the FY 2017 research and development target (to validate a mature, modeled thermochemical conversion cost of $3.39/gallon gasoline equivalent for a combined blendstock) as technologies reach greater maturity and de-risk the technologies in preparation to release the successful projects to the Demonstration and Market Transformation Program.

  • Demonstration and Market Transformation: Increased funding will be applied for up to three new pilot projects or one new demonstration project that will enable the advancement of a wider array of technology pathways converting biomass feedstocks to hydrocarbon fuels.

  • Strategic Analysis and Cross-Cutting Sustainability: Increase funding for projects focused on improving the environmental and social benefits of bioenergy production while generating critical data on feedstock quality, logistics costs, and life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions.


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