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

As part of a White House roundtable to launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050, on September 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on the production of cost-effective and low-carbon biofuels. DOE aims to advance technologies to replace petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty forms of transportation, such as airplanes and ships.
 
DOE Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm stated that, although heavy-duty vehicles in the transportation sector such as planes and ships are difficult to electrify, decarbonizing transportation is a critical part of the path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Also as part of the SAF Grand Challenge, DOE signed on September 8, 2021, a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The memorandum formalizes the DOE, DOT, and USDA’s collaborative efforts on the required research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to reach the goals of supplying at least three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and sufficient SAF to meet 100 percent of aviation fuel demand by 2050.
 
DOE selected 22 projects to receive the available funds administered by its Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). The projects target high-impact bioenergy technology RD&D to increase foundational knowledge and scale up systems to produce low-carbon biofuels at lower costs, covering five topic areas:

  • Scale-Up of Biotechnologies;
  • Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion;
  • Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion;
  • Residential Wood Heaters; and
  • Renewable Natural Gas.

Additional information about the selected projects is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 
 
On August 27, 2021, DOE’s EERE, in partnership with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute (CESMII), announced the selections of four new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centers (SMICs). SMICs offer specialized training and direct industry engagement to help U.S. manufacturers implement smart manufacturing technologies to optimize their use of materials and energy. CESMII, an institute funded by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, focuses on accelerating the adoption of smart manufacturing through integration of advanced sensors, data analytics, platforms, and controls. SMICs allow manufacturers to tap into CESMII’s manufacturing resources, helping CESMII expand institute-developed technologies, training, and hands-on demonstrations.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On August 26, 2021, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) announced the launch of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. The new prize will provide cash prizes of up to $250,000 each -- totaling $2.5 million -- to groups and organizations in support of entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underrepresented and underserved in the energy sector. Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman said that this new prize is part of EERE’s effort to address the urgent need for diversity in the funding applications EERE receives. Ms. Speakes-Backman added, “We know climate change disproportionally affects underserved communities, so it is also critical that we change that -- by partnering with these communities when developing climate solutions together.” This new prize aligns with President Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative that aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments in climate and clean energy to underserved communities.
 
In hopes of attracting and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize aims to:

  • “Support organizations to create or identify activities that provide incubation, acceleration, and community-based entrepreneurship and innovation services in climate and clean energy technologies.
  • Identify and fund activities that will help traditionally underrepresented groups apply for and receive DOE funding in support of DOE’s Justice40 goals.
  • Build trust and strengthen relationships and partnerships with underrepresented, underserved, and frontline communities or community-serving organizations to understand and lower barriers to entry to DOE funding opportunities.
  • Foster grassroots innovation in policy and process related to just and equitable clean energy deployment.
  • Support colleges, universities, and other educational institutions that serve large populations of students traditionally underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), including Minority Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, community colleges, and predominantly undergraduate institutions.”

The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize will open to submissions later in September 2021, welcoming applications from community-centric organizations and educational institutions with experience engaging with and promoting underrepresented communities. These organizations will support environmental, climate, and energy justice by using their experience and institutional knowledge to serve as a bridge between DOE and innovators.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On August 18, 2021, DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program issued a request for information (RFI) seeking input on technical and logistical pathways that would enhance BER’s research portfolio in comparison to similar international research efforts. The BER Program is DOE’s coordinating office for research on biological systems, bioenergy, environmental science, and Earth system science. Written comments and information must be submitted by October 31, 2021, by e-mail only to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The e-mail subject line should read “BER research benchmarking.”

Tags: DOE, RFI

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On August 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Phase I Release 1 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. DOE encourages applications from qualified small businesses with strong research capabilities in science, engineering, or any research area sought in the announcement.
 
To become eligible to submit a Phase I application, interested parties must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to the DOE Portfolio Analysis and Management System (PAMS) by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) August 30, 2021. Instructions for submitting the LOI are available here.
 
Grant applications for Phase I must be submitted through this portal by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) October 12, 2021. Information on applying is available here.

Tags: DOE, SBIR, STTR

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On July 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $60 million in funding for its cohort of university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). The IACs assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers in reducing their carbon footprint and lowering energy costs. IACs, with particular attention to disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, also train the next generation of energy-efficiency workers, as highlighted by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm: “America’s best and brightest university students are successfully helping local manufacturers reduce pollution, save energy, and cut their electricity bills.” Composed of 32 universities, the new cohort of IACs will focus on improving productivity, enhancing cybersecurity, promoting resiliency planning, and providing training to entities in disadvantaged communities. IACs will also partner with community colleges and technical programs to participate in a new pilot project focused on the commercial building market, that will train diverse students and professions to conduct energy-efficiency assessments of small to medium-sized buildings.
 
Managed by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), the IAC’s program was founded in 1976, and it is one of DOE’s longest running programs. IACs have provided approximately 20,000 no-cost assessments for small- and medium-sized manufacturers and more than 147,000 recommendations for improvement measures. Such assessments usually identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities for the manufacturers that are assessed. More than 19,500 IAC assessments have been conducted to date.
 
Manufacturers must meet the following criteria for eligibility to receive an IAC assessment:

  • Fall within Standard Industry Codes (SIC) 20-39;
  • Be located less than 150 miles from a participating university;
  • Have gross annual sales below $100 million;
  • Have fewer than 500 employees at the plant site;
  • Have annual energy bills that are more than $100,000 but less than $3.5 million; and
  • Lack professional in-house staff to perform the assessment.

After a remote survey of the plant, the IAC team conducts a one- to two-day site visit to take engineering measurements. The team then performs a detailed process analysis to generate specific recommendations for the manufacturer, followed by a call to the plant manager after six to nine months to verify what recommendations were implemented. Detailed information regarding how to apply is available here.

Tags: DOE, IACs

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On July 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new goal under the Energy Earthshot Initiative’s (Energy Earthshots): “Long Duration Storage Shot.” The Energy Earthshots program focuses on scientific breakthroughs that can lead to more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within this decade as the United States aims to achieve net-zero carbon goals by 2050. The second target within Energy Earthshots aims to accelerate innovation in long-term storage of clean electricity. Long duration energy storage, defined by DOE as systems that can store more than ten hours of energy at once, would facilitate the capture and storage of energy for later use when energy generation is unavailable or lower than demand. Scenarios provided by DOE include solar-generated power that could be used at night or nuclear energy generated during times of low demand to be used when demand increases. The Long Duration Storage Shot will consider all types of technology, including electrochemical, mechanical, thermal, chemical carriers, or combinations of these technologies.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 29, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT), Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm will host a virtual roundtable on the future of manufacturing. Roundtable discussions will focus on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts to:

  • Decarbonize the manufacturing sector in the United States;
  • Manufacture clean-energy technologies; and
  • Pave the way to a resilient, carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

During the roundtable’s panel discussion, Secretary Granholm will announce several new DOE initiatives pertaining to manufacturing. The panel discussion will feature a diverse range of stakeholders, including government and academia representatives, and DOE private-sector partners.
 
Registration is required.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On July 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced Phase I selections for the Waste-to-Energy Technical Assistance for Local Governments Program. Designed by NREL to provide assistance in the development of waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies on behalf of BETO, the goal of this program is to identify gaps and gather data and information on organic waste streams. The information gathered is used to:

  • Provide data to local decisionmakers;
  • Deploy the analyses that have been developed for various energy/resource recovery strategies; and
  • Locally foster public-private partnerships.

BETO aims to enable organic waste energy and/or resource recovery at the municipal level by leveraging technical expertise and data to address specific issues each municipality may encounter with their waste streams. Phase I of the program funds collaborations between NREL and 16 local government bodies to provide strategic planning support, quantification of local organic waste resources, and mitigation approaches for localized environmental impacts. A full list of Phase I selectees can be accessed here. Phase II funding will depend on BETO’s funding availability later in 2021.

Tags: DOE, BETO, NREL, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 28, 2021, DOE announced the dates of the 2021 SBIR Week. The virtual event is scheduled for July 19, 2021, through July 23, 2021, and aims to connect entrepreneurs working on advanced technologies to the United States’ largest source of early-stage funding: DOE’s SBIR and STTR programs. The SBIR and STTR programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund, provide more than $4 billion annually in funding to small businesses developing new technologies.
 
The 2021 SBIR Week will include live-streaming panels and presentations with federal agencies that administer new awards. Participants will have an opportunity to meet with DOE Office of SBIR/STTR Programs staff on an individual basis or in roundtable discussions. DOE Office of SBIR/STTR Programs available staff will include:

  • Eileen Chant, Outreach Program Manager;
  • Carl Hebron, Program Coordinator; and
  • Manny Oliver, Director.

Registration is required and open to innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and small technology businesses.

Tags: DOE, SBIR

 
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