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By   Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Plastics Innovation Challenge Draft Roadmap (Draft Roadmap) alongside a Request for Information (RFI) seeking stakeholder input on the draft document. The Plastics Innovation Challenge is a DOE program focused on accelerating innovations in energy-efficient plastic recycling technologies. The aim of the Plastics Innovation Challenge is to make domestic processing of plastic waste energy efficient and economically viable, develop new and improved plastic materials lacking the same end-of-life concerns as incumbent materials, and to reduce plastic waste accumulation. Based on these aims, the Plastics Innovation Challenge has outlined four strategic goals within its scope:

  • Deconstruction: Develop biological and chemical methods for deconstructing plastic wastes into useful chemicals;
     
  • Upcycling: Develop technologies to upcycle waste chemical streams into higher value products;
     
  • Recycle by Design: Design new, renewable plastics and bioplastics that are easily upcycled and can be manufactured domestically at scale; and
     
  • Scale and Deployment: Support an energy and material-efficient domestic plastics supply chain.

The Draft Roadmap, therefore, identifies key research needs and opportunities for DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D). It also identifies challenges and opportunities across thermal, chemical, biological, and physical recycling and upcycling methods, as well as material design strategies for recyclability. According to DOE, the Draft Roadmap additionally:

  • Provides an overview of the plastic waste problem;
     
  • Identifies the initiative’s 2030 vision, mission, strategic goals, and objectives;
     
  • Details challenges and opportunities identified by previous DOE activities;
     
  • Lays out key research directions;
     
  • Delivers an outline of current DOE activities, capabilities and coordination; and
     
  • Describes targets for each research area.

The Draft Roadmap aims to guide DOE efforts to meet the Plastics Innovation Challenge goals. The purpose of DOE’s RFI on the Draft Roadmap, therefore, is to solicit feedback from stakeholders to ensure the road toward the Plastics Innovation Challenge 2030 goals is clear and well positioned. Responses to the RFI are due to DOE by March 1, 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On January 13, 2021, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the availability of $123.6 million in funding and $44.7 million of cost share available for 46 projects to stimulate technology innovation, improve energy productivity of American manufacturing, and enable the manufacturing of cutting-edge products in the United States. The 46 projects that will be selected under this funding opportunity announcement will focus in three areas to improve energy efficiency in energy-intensive processes:

  • Efficiency improvements in advanced manufacturing processes;
     
  • Efficiency improvements in chemical manufacturing; and
     
  • Connected, flexible, and efficient manufacturing facilities, products, and energy systems.

Additional information is available here.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Funding

 

By  Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On December 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the seven winners of Phase II of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. The prize is designed to facilitate innovative solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling. Its goal is to develop processes that have the potential to capture 90 percent of all discarded or spent lithium-based batteries in the United States and reintroduce key materials into the U.S. supply chain. The seven selected prize teams will focus on building industry partnerships to design, simulate, and prototype a proof-of-concept solution. Each Phase II winner will receive a $357,000 cash prize in addition to $100,000 in non-cash vouchers to use at DOE National Laboratories and approved organizations within the American-Made Challenges Network. The winners will also advance to the third and final phase of the prize that entails a pilot validation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On December 14, 2020, DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Office issued its fiscal year (FY) 2021 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the SBIR and STTR Programs. Participating in the FOA are the following DOE program offices:

  • Office of Cyber Security, Energy Security, and Emergency Response;
  • Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation;
  • Office of Electricity;
  • Office of Environmental Management;
  • EERE;
  • Office of Fossil Energy;
  • Office of Fusion Energy Sciences;
  • Office of High Energy Physics; and
  • Office of Nuclear Energy.

The FOA is available for qualified small businesses with strong research capabilities in science or engineering in any of the research areas sought in the announcement. Grant applications for Phase I are due by February 22, 2021.

Tags: DOE, EERE, FOA, SBIR, STTR

 

By  Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

DOE’s EERE announced an FOA of up to $35 million for bioenergy feedstock technologies and algae R&D. This FOA supports the White House’s priority to advance the domestic bioeconomy and DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BTO) goal to improve the performance and lower the cost and risk of technologies that can be used to produce biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts. Topic areas include the characterization of municipal solid waste (MSW) to enable production of conversion-ready feedstocks and algae productivity exceeding expectations (APEX). The application process requires a concept paper and a full application. While concept papers must be submitted to DOE by February 1, 2021, the full applications are due on April 5, 2021.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs office issued topics for its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). Participating in the FOA are the following program offices:

  • Office of Cyber Security, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER);
  • Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (NNSA);
  • Office of Electricity (OE);
  • Office of Environmental Management (EM);
  • Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE);
  • Office of Fossil Energy (FE);
  • Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES);
  • Office of High Energy Physics (HEP); and
  • Office of Nuclear Energy (NE).

DOE will host a webinar on December 18, 2020, to discuss the FOA and application process and changes to the DOE SBIR and STTR programs.

Additional important dates include:

  • FOA Issued: December 14, 2020;
  • Letter of Intent (LOI) Due Date: January 4 , 2021;
  • Non-responsive LOI Feedback Provided: January 25, 2021;
  • Application Due Date: February 22, 2021;
  • Award Notification Date: May 17, 2021 (subject to change); and
  • Start of Grant Budget Period: June 28, 2021 (subject to change).
Tags: DOE, SBIR, STTR, FOA, Funding

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 12, 2020, DOE issued its multi-year Hydrogen Program Plan aimed at providing a strategic framework for its hydrogen research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) efforts. A coordinated departmental effort, the Hydrogen Program focuses on the advancement of affordable production, transport, storage, and use of hydrogen across different economy sectors. Offices involved in this plan include DOE’s EERE, FE, NE, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

Tags: DOE, Hydrogen, EERE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 13, 2020, DOE’s EERE announced that the Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative issued a call for white papers. The Co-Optima initiative focuses on the development of new high-performance fuels that, when combined with advanced combustion approaches, can increase energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint. The initiative is seeking white papers to leverage National Laboratory resources and overcome technical challenges to advancing new liquid fuels and blendstocks. Proposals must address specific technical challenges and barriers that Co-Optima researchers can work on to move new fuels closer to market in conjunction with advanced, high-efficiency engines. The call for white papers is a Directed Funding Opportunity (DFO) available for U.S. domestic for-profit or non-profit businesses interested in Co-Optima’s goals and objectives. Foreign entities, including U.S. subsidiaries with a foreign-owned parent company, are also eligible to apply with a waiver request. Approval of the waiver, however, is subject to DOE discretion. All project work must be performed in the U.S.

Application templates are available here and must be submitted via e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by 5:00 p.m. (EST) January 14, 2021. Anticipated final selection decisions and notifications will be released on March 1, 2021, and the project will begin on May 1, 2021.

Four anticipated project awards are expected with $250,000 of Co-Optima National Laboratory assistance over a project duration of 12 to 18 months. Industry partners will fund their own labor, materials, and other expenses, which contribute toward a 20 percent minimum cost-share requirement.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of over $27 million in funding for 12 projects supporting research and development (R&D) efforts toward advanced plastics recycling technologies and new recyclable plastics. These efforts are part of DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, which aims to improve existing recycling processes that break plastics down into chemical building blocks that can be used to make new products. The 12 projects selected will address highly recyclable or biodegradable plastics, novel methods for deconstructing and upcycling existing plastics, and collaborations to tackle challenges in plastic waste.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

In early September, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Office announced that from December 14 to 17, 2020, the Brookhaven National Laboratory will host a virtual workshop for industry researchers to showcase the capabilities and expertise available at DOE’s Office of Science User Facilities. Designed to benefit researchers who have either previously used the Brookhaven facilities and researchers with an interest in learning about accessing the Brookhaven facilities, the workshop program will focus on researchers working in all major industry sectors. Some of these industry sectors include petrochemicals, energy storage, advanced materials, pharmaceuticals, microelectronics, and advanced manufacturing, and DOE believes that companies will benefit from learning how Brookhaven facilities can impact their research and development (R&D) mission.

The workshop will be formatted so that attendees can spend time remotely observing the labs and Brookhaven’s capabilities in action, while engaging in technical discussions with the lab experts. As a virtual “facilities open house,” the workshop will also allow attendees to measure remotely their own samples and collect data. In addition, presentations from industry users of Brookhaven facilities, question and answer sessions, and opportunities to engage directly with DOE program managers will be featured. The workshop is open to the public, and interested parties may register here.


 
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