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DOE BETO to issue $8M funding opportunity for algae-based biofuels

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) plans (DE-FOA-0001708) to issue a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001628) for up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, for the development of algae-based biofuels.

The FOA, entitled Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits (PEAK), will support innovative technologies and approaches to help advance bioenergy and bioproducts from algae. These projects will support the development of cost-competitive biofuels from algal biomass by focusing on breakthroughs in advanced biology, as well as biology-based tools to improve algae cultivation productivity. Selected projects will also accelerate future innovations through data sharing within the research and development community.

The FOA will focus on biological variables that contribute to the modeled minimum fuel selling prices of algal biofuels and will use innovative technologies to help deliver strains, tools, data, and techniques to enhance algal biofuel potential. Biological variables include:

  • biomass productivity;
  • biomass composition (e.g., lipid, protein, and carbohydrate content);
  • predation and pathogen resistance;
  • halotolerance;
  • heat and cold tolerance; and
  • high-intensity light (i.e., direct sunlight) tolerance.

The FOA will seek to fund multidisciplinary biological innovation that will deliver strains, tools, data, and techniques to enhance algal biofuel potential and enable accelerated future innovation in algal biofuels and bioproducts. DOE anticipates two Areas of Interest:

  • Area of Interest One, Strain Improvement: Development of enhanced algal strains with increased areal productivity and biofuel intermediate yield. Strain improvement developments will include isolation, directed evolution, breeding, and/or genetic engineering of novel algal strains that can reproducibly out-perform the current best available strains in outdoor conditions, where “performance” is represented by productivity, robustness, and composition.

  • Area of Interest Two, Cultivation Improvement: Development of increased areal productivity and biofuel intermediate yield through enhanced management of ecological or abiotic contributions to cultivation biology. Cultivation biology development improvements will include leveraging natural or designed microbial assemblages of the cultivation ecosystem to boost performance and exclude pathogens, and understanding under what cultivation conditions should certain strains be employed. This Area of Interest is not focused on engineering a better cultivation system.

For both Areas of Interest, selected projects will support the development of at least one novel tool, technique (method), or dataset that upon completion of the project will enable developers to accelerate innovation in that topic area. The types of tools, techniques, and datasets of interest span biological, computational, and analytic strategies that will advance the state of technology and are complementary to the scope of improvement development work.

DOE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately 36 months.


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