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DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office updates Multi-Year Program Plan; focus on wet wastes

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released its newly updated and detailed Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP). The MYPP sets forth the goals and structure of the Office, and identifies the research, development, demonstration, market transformation, and crosscutting activities on which the Office is planning to focus over the next five years.

The latest version of the MYPP presents a merged conversion R&D section; the renaming of the demonstration and market transformation area; and emerging work in wet waste-to-energy feedstocks. BETO says that wet wastes represent an underused feedstock and an emerging pathway to advanced biofuels that has the potential to greatly contribute to BETO’s near-term and long-term advanced biofuel and bioproduct goals.

BETO is interested in the potential of four kinds of wet-waste feedstocks:

  • The non-recyclable organic fraction of landfill solid wastes. Food wastes from landfills are a particularly interesting subset, as they constitute the largest single fraction of currently unrecovered wastes.

  • Biosolids and sludges from municipal wastewater treatment processes. While the wastewater industry is undergoing a shift towards viewing itself as water resource recovery facilities, much work remains to realize this vision.

  • Manure slurries from concentrated livestock operations.

  • Organic wastes from industrial operations, including but not limited to food and beverage production and cellulosic biorefineries. Other industries such as pulp and paper, forest products, and pharmaceuticals also generate streams that might be suitable for incorporation.

Over the next year, the Office will conduct strategic analyses and engage stakeholders to understand potential entry points for research and development funding that can accelerate the commercialization of wet waste technologies. In 2015, these activities will include national laboratory-led techno-economic analyses and resource potential studies, stakeholder workshops, and engagement with industry and other federal agencies.

Other changes include updates to sustainability, terrestrial feedstock supply and logistics R&D and algal feedstocks R&D sections as well as updates to the accompanying appendices with details on technical targets of newly included design cases.

Background. BETO is one of the 10 technology development offices within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the DOE. BETO’s mission is to develop and transform renewable biomass resources into commercially viable, high- performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower through targeted research, development, and demonstration supported through public and private partnerships.

The MYPP serves as an operational guide to help the Office manage and coordinate its activities as well as a vehicle to communicate the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s mission, goals, and plans to stakeholders and the public.

BETO organizes its technology portfolio according to the biomass-to-bioenergy supply chain—from the feedstock source to the end user—with 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

  • Crosscutting sustainability, analysis, and strategic communications activities.

MYPP and transportation fuels. BETO’s near-term goals are focused on the conversion of biomass into liquid transportation fuels, and on bioproducts and biopower that enable price-competitive biofuels production.

Historically, BETO has focused on RD&D for ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass. With achievement of the cellulosic ethanol cost targets, the Office has shifted toward developing other advanced biofuels that will contribute to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumetric requirements. By focusing on these biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels (renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) and hydrocarbons from algae, BETO seeks to engage the refinery industry in developing solutions, while utilizing existing infrastructure as much as possible.

BETO’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. Specific overarching performance goals include:

  • 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 pilot or demonstration scale (>1 ton/day).


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