The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $11.3 million in funding to develop flexible biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can be modified to produce advanced fuels and/or products based on external factors, such as market demand. (DE-FOA-0001433: MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts To Enable Biofuels.)
These pathways can consist of a route to a platform chemical that could be converted to products or renewable hydrocarbon fuels or a route that co-produces chemicals and renewable hydrocarbon fuels.
The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has a goal of meeting the 2022 cost target of $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) for the production of renewable hydrocarbon fuels from lignocellulosic biomass. One approach BETO has taken previously to achieve this goal is to focus on conversion pathways that produce biofuels, with little or no emphasis on coproducing bioproducts.
As BETO increasingly focuses on renewable hydrocarbon fuels, it is examining strategies that capitalize on revenue from bioproducts as part of cost-competitive biofuel production.
A variety of technology pathways can be used to produce hydrocarbon biofuels, but many of them require the production of value-added chemicals and products in the near term to achieve an attractive rate of return on cost-competitive fuels.
Value-added chemicals and products can also incentivize the de-risking of “front end” processes (from feedstock logistics through to deconstruction) that are necessary for fuel production.
In response to this need, the intent of this funding opportunity is to identify research and development (R&D) projects that propose a conversion pathway that can produce variable amounts of fuels and products based on external factors, such as market demand.
The proposed pathway must illustrate a realistic approach to producing cost-competitive renewable hydrocarbon biofuels. These pathways could consist of a route to a platform chemical that could be converted to products or fuels, or a route that coproduces chemicals and fuels.
|Source: DOE MEGA-BIO FOA|
Successful applications will include a clear justification for producing the target molecule(s) from biomass, a compelling narrative explaining how the target product(s) will enable biofuels, and supporting techno-economic analysis and life-cycle analysis. While bioproducts are seen as a valuable strategy for enabling fuels, BETO is not interested in pursuing R&D solely on bioproducts that do not contain a fuels component.
There will be two topic areas:
Early Technology Readiness Level (TRL) (TRL 2–3) R&D to optimize one unit operation of the proposed conversion pathway.
Middle Technology Readiness Level (TRL 4–5) R&D to optimize and integrate multiple unit operations of the proposed conversion pathway.
If successful, the anticipated outcomes are:
Identification of promising conversion technology pathways that can be incorporated into the BETO research portfolio to demonstrate and experimentally verify a hydrocarbon fuel modeled cost of $3/gge.
Successful R&D on unit operations or integrated pathways that further the state of technology for biomass to biofuels conversion.
Increased private investment for biofuels and bioproducts due to improved confidence in biomass to biofuels conversion technologies.
Replacement of fossil fuel-derived chemicals with biomass-derived chemicals.