By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting its tenth annual Bioeconomy 2017: Domestic Resources for a Vibrant Future conference on July 11-12, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia. As in years past, the conference will bring together government agency officials, members of Congress, industry leaders, national laboratory scientists, and academic researchers focused on moving the American bioeconomy forward. Discussion will focus on:
- Innovative technologies for the emerging bioeconomy;
- The economic opportunities of reliable American feedstock;
- New and growing markets for the bioeconomy;
- Bioenergy as part of the modern transportation future; and
- Leveraging the bioeconomy to create new jobs and address global challenges.
Registration is available online.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting a Workshop on Moving Beyond Drop-In Replacements: Performance Advantaged Bio-Based Chemicals on June 1, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. The purpose of the workshop is to solicit stakeholder feedback on what research and development is necessary for writing a functional replacements and novel biobased compounds strategic plan. The discussion, which will be restricted to polymers, small molecules, and other building block chemicals, will center on the following questions:
- Would a strategy document for bio-based novel compounds and functional replacements be useful? What would it look like?
- What is the best strategy for developing a bio-based novel compounds and functional replacements guiding document?
- What are the biggest challenges in identifying novel compounds and functional replacements?
- What are the most critical properties to screen for when developing screening protocols?
- How can BETO best bridge the gap between those producing novel bio-based compounds and those who need novel compounds or replacements for their formulations?
Registration is available online.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is hosting an Algae Cultivation for Carbon Capture and Utilization Workshop on May 23-24, 2017, in Orlando, Florida. The event will feature facilitated discussions focused on gathering stakeholder input on innovative technologies and business strategies for growing algae on waste carbon dioxide (CO2) resources. Stakeholders will be encouraged to consider challenges and opportunities related to:
||Sourcing CO2, including quality, quantity, siting, and transport considerations;
||Cultivating algae, including biomass productivity, efficiency in CO2 utilization, and carbon balances in end products; and
||Finding sustainable “win-win” solutions to reducing CO2 emissions while finding cost savings.
Workshop discussion will help inform DOE strategies to realize affordable, scalable, and sustainable production biofuels and bioproducts made from algae. Registration is available online.
On February 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the publication of the Biorefinery Optimization Workshop Summary Report. The report provides an overview of the discussion on industry challenges and opportunities that took place during the October 2016 Biorefinery Optimization Workshop in Chicago, Illinois. The workshop, which comprised a combination of presentations and breakout sessions, focused on feedstock and materials handling; process scale-up, intensification, and cost reduction; and co-product and waste stream monetization. Discussions from the breakout sessions include key findings on best practices, lessons learned, challenges, potential solutions, and resources needed to overcome current challenges.
On February 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the launch of its Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium (ChemCatBio), a research and development consortium focused on overcoming catalysis challenges for biomass conversion processes
. The consortium, which consists of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and five other DOE national laboratories, aims to accelerate the development of catalysts and related technologies to bring new catalytic materials to commercial bioenergy applications at least two times faster and at half the cost. The unique properties of biomass, such as high oxygen content, high moisture content, and high acidity, make developing catalysts for bioenergy applications a challenge. Through computational modeling, and materials synthesis and characterization capabilities, researchers involved with the consortium have already designed new multi-functional catalysts that enable carbon-efficient conversion and reduce costs by more than $0.5/gallon.
On January 13, 2017, the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced the intent to issue a request for applications (RFA) titled “Fiscal Year 17 Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI).” Projects funded through BRDI must address one of the foll owing topic areas:
|Feedstocks development : Research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) focused on feedstocks and feedstock logistics as it relates to the production of raw materials for conversion to biofuels and biobased products;
|Biofuels and biobased products development : RD&D focused on the development of cost-effective, innovative technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products, and product diversification to increase the feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery; and
|Biofuels development analysis : Optimization of performance and quantification of the project’s impact on sustainability using systems evaluation methods.
On August 1, 2016, DOE released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for $7 million to research fuel and engine co-optimization technologies. Funding will be provided through the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative, a collaboration between DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), bringing together national laboratories and industry to conduct tandem fuel and engine research, development, and deployment assessments. This initiative works to improve near-term conventional spark-ignition engine efficiency and enable full operability of advanced compression ignition engines. Research cycles include identifying fuel candidates, understanding their characteristics, and determining market transformation requirements. This FOA is restricted to U.S. Institutions of Higher Education and nonprofit research institutions operating under U.S. Institutions of Higher Education. Proposals should address one or more of the following sub-topics:
- Fuel characterization and fuel property prediction;
- Kinetic measurement and mechanism development;
- Emissions and environmental impact analysis;
- Impact of fuel chemistry and fuel properties on particulate emissions;
- Small-volume, high-throughput fuel testing; and
- Additional barriers.
Concept papers are due by August 15, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with full applications due on September 18, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that up to $10 million in funding is being given to six projects that are creating innovative solutions to advance bioenergy development. The work will support the Bioenergy Technologies Office's (BETO) goal of developing non-food biomass competitive biofuels with reduced technical investment risks. The selected projects are:
- Arizona State University, a project engineering cyanobacteria to produce ethyl laurate;
- Arizona State University, a project developing heat-tolerant mixtrophic algae that can consume both carbon dioxide (CO2) and cellulosic sugars;
- Duke University, a project to reduce construction costs for commercial scale biorefineries by making smaller reactors more productive;
- Lygos Inc., a project to develop microbial catalysts to produce renewable aspartic acid from cellulosic sugars;
- White Dogs Labs, a project to develop metabolic pathways to increase the yield of acetone from microorganisms; and
- LanzaTech Inc., a project to manufacture acetone from biobased syngas.