On March 13, 2015, the National Academies issued Industrialization
Of Biology: A Roadmap To Accelerate The Advanced Manufacturing Of Chemicals,
a 143-page report prepared in response to a request from the U.S. Department of
Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to "develop a
roadmap of necessary advances in basic science and engineering capabilities,
including knowledge, tools and skills" to accelerate the advanced
manufacturing of chemicals using biological systems. Thirteen committee members
with expertise in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, molecular biology,
microbiology, systems biology, synthetic chemistry, chemical engineering,
bioinformatics, systems integration, metrology, chemical manufacturing, and law
and bioethics worked together with researchers to create a technical roadmap
for the future of the biochemicals industry. The report, with chapters
including "Industrial Biotechnology: Past and Present," "Vision
of the Future: What New Chemicals Could Be Made?," and "How Do We Get
There?," examines the regulatory and societal factors limiting the
adoption of bioprocessing in the chemical industry today and makes
recommendations for EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies responsible for
governance of existing and emerging biobased chemicals. A prepublication
version of the report is available now, with a final publication date to be
DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the Clean Energy
Research and Educational Foundation (CEREF) are co-hosting Bioenergy 2015:
Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape, scheduled for June 23-24, 2015, at
the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. This year's
conference will focus on opportunities and challenges in our current highly
dynamic energy ecosystem.
On February 25, 2015, the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the third round of Strategic
Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Renewable Energy Project Development
Assistance that provides tribal governments and entities with
support to produce clean and renewable energy. The START program was launched
in December 2011 and has helped 21 tribal communities advance solar, wind,
biofuels, and energy efficiency projects. The program is open to Indian Tribes,
Alaska Native regional corporations, and formally organized tribal energy
resource development organizations. Applications are due to the DOE Office
of Indian Energy by May
1, 2015, and up to five projects will be selected by the end of
On February 17, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
published in the Federal Register a Notice
of Open Meeting for the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory
Committee (the Committee). The Committee plans to meet on March 5, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30
p.m. and March
6, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman
Park in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes updates on the Biomass Research
and Development Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DOE
Biomass R&D Activities, the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office Funding
Opportunity Announcements, and the Committee's plan for 2015. To attend the
meeting, contact Elliott
Levine and Roy Tiley
by February 26, 2015.
Minutes of the meeting will be available within 60 days of the meeting at the Biomass Research
& Development Meetings Page.
February 2, 2015, the
White House released the 2016 fiscal year budget request for the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE). Under this proposed plan, DOE
would receive $29.9 billion, an increase of $2.6 billion from the
2015 fiscal year. The increase in funding for DOE would focus on renewable
energy, energy efficiency, and clean power technology with some of the
additional money coming from DOE's fossil fuel programs. A total of $7.4
billion of the funding would go specifically towards clean energy technology,
including renewable and biobased developments. The budget request would also
make the renewable energy production and investment tax credits permanent. In
addition to making the existing tax credits permanent, new credits were
proposed that will focus on carbon capture, utilization, and storage
technologies. In contrast to the proposed additional tax credits for
renewables, existing tax incentives for the oil, gas, and coal industries would
be repealed. The current budget request is unlikely to pass in the House of
Representatives, but shows the focus on renewable energy that the current
On December 4, 2014, the S.
Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will provide up to $7 million for two bioenergy
projects that aim to reduce the cost of delivering biomass feedstocks to
biorefineries. The College of Environmental Science and Forestry at
the State University of New York administers one of the projects and focuses on
reducing the cost of woody crops while improving harvest and preprocessing
operations to meet biorefinery specifications. The second project, out of the
University of Tennessee, will develop a biomass processing depot that blends
multiple biomass sources in order to reduce variation in biomass used by
biorefineries. This study could lead to increased feedstock availability due to
blending of the different biomass sources.
On November 7, 2014, R&D Magazine announced its 52nd R&D 100 Awards, which are widely recognized as the "Oscars of Invention." Major technological breakthroughs made over the past year were honored and included work from industry, academia, and governmental research. This year, six awards went to projects that were funded by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The EERE-funded projects that won R&D 100 Awards are from the Bioenergy Technologies Office, Fuel Cells and Solar Technologies Offices, and Vehicles Technologies Office.
DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) recently announced three new subtopics related to bioenergy under its SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs:
* Design and Fabrication of Solids Handling for Biomass Conversion Systems -- Grant applications are sought for designs, prototype equipment, and procedures that enable continuous biomass solids handling at a cost ten percent lower than currently available.
* Low-Cost Coatings for Advanced Thermal Processes in Metal Combustors -- Grant applications are sought for the development of low-cost protective coatings for metal combustors. Coating approaches potentially of interest may include, but are not limited to the following: ceramic coatings, alloy coatings, aluminizing treatments, surface modifications/reactive surface treatments, thermal spray, wash coats, vapor deposition or sputtering (if sufficiently low cost), plating, and porcelains/enamels.
* Solid-Liquid Separations for Algal Systems -- Grant applications are sought for the integration of multiple separation technologies for the solid-liquid separation of algae. The applicant should consider as a minimum the following technology options for integration: vacuum filters, pressure filters, hydroclones, screens and/or sieving, and gravity tables.
The projects will help small businesses develop and deliver market-driven clean energy technologies. Small businesses that are selected for any EERE SBIR/STTR funding keep the rights to new technologies they develop and are encouraged to transfer these technologies to the marketplace. More details can be found on the EERE website, including a full list of topics and application instructions. Interested applicants can register for the EERE Cleantech SBIR Webinar on December 8, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. (EST) to 1:00 p.m. (EST).
On October 31, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released two plans related to climate change. The Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and the Climate Change Adaptation Plan are intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme temperatures/weather patterns. These plans come five years after the 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance that set energy, climate, and environmental goals for government agencies. The release of the plans gave Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz an opportunity to outline how the use of clean energy resources, as part of the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, has been implemented within the Department. DOE has increased the number of buildings that achieved federal guiding principles for high performance and sustainable buildings. It has completed a biomass cogeneration facility in South Carolina and an 11.5 megawatt wind farm, both of which serve to reduce the use of non-renewable energy. DOE was also recognized as a 2014 GreenGov Presidential Award Winner for its work with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to produce a five percent reduction in DOT's total fuel consumption, and a 20 percent increase in DOT's use of alternative fuels.
DOE has developed a small business "All-in-one Application Tool" for small businesses looking for funds to advance clean energy technologies. The online tool provides a guide for potential applicants for the topics under the DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Among the nine topics identified by SBIR is bioenergy, with particular focus on biomass conversion systems, coatings for metal combustors, and solid-liquid separations for algal systems.