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DOE announces $14M to optimize production of affordable biofuels and biochemicals

The Department of Energy announced $14 million in funding (DE-FOA-0002946) to support and to optimize the production of affordable biofuels and biochemicals while significantly reducing carbon emissions.

The Topic Areas in the 2023 Conversion Research and Development (R&D) funding opportunity seek to address the following R&D needs:

  • R&D on gasification technologies, with an emphasis on syngas contaminant removal approaches that enable effective upgrading of products derived from gasification of renewable resources to liquid transportation fuels.

  • R&D on microbial conversion of renewable resources into chemical products, with an emphasis on processes with commercialization potential.

There are two topic areas:

  • Topic 1: Overcoming Barriers to Syngas Conversion. The goal of this Topic Area is to improve the economics and reliability of gasification and syngas cleanup systems by eliminating technical barriers for conversion of renewable carbon and waste feedstocks to low carbon fuels. While upgrading syngas has been widely investigated, additional challenges remain due to process complexity and feedstock limitations associated with syngas cleanup. Projects selected from this Topic Area will facilitate conversion of acceptable biomass and waste feedstocks into SAF with a 70% reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions.

  • Topic 2: Strategic Opportunities for Decarbonization of the Chemicals Industry Through Biocatalysts.

    1. Subtopic 2a: Opportunities for Decarbonization of the Chemicals Industry Through Biocatalysts: This Subtopic seeks applications that are focused on engineering microbial hosts or biological (i.e., cell-free) systems to maximize production metrics, such as titer, rate, and/or yield, of a product of interest. Applicants should describe how the improvements they propose move the technology toward commercial relevance; applications will specifically be evaluated as to the likelihood that their technology improvement accelerates commercialization in the near term (~10 years).

    2. Subtopic 2b: Commercialization Opportunities for Decarbonization of the Chemicals Industry Through Biocatalysts: This Subtopic seeks applications that aim to improve biochemical production capabilities, with a focus on bioprocess improvements and integration at a larger scale. This includes projects targeting fermentation development and scale up as well as producing volumes of product required for validation with partners; such industrial partnerships should be clearly described.

Both topic areas contribute to goals outlined in the DOE Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap, to produce low-carbon, renewable chemicals, and the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge to produce 35 billion gallons of SAF annually by 2050—enough to meet 100% of US aviation fuel demand.

To facilitate the formation of project teams for this FOA, BETO has compiled a Teaming Partner List tool that allows organizations to explore collaborating with other prospective applicants. Guidance on how to be included on the Teaming Partner List and how to create a team partnership is available on the 2023 Conversion R&D FOA Teaming Partner List Guidance webpage.


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