On June 22, 2016, DOE released the detailed agenda for the Biotechnology for Clean Vehicles: Harnessing Synthetic Biology To Enable Next-Generation Biomaterials And Biofuels session at the Sustainable Transportation Summit. The session is hosted by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and will focus on how novel biomaterials and renewable fuels can be used to improve vehicle efficiency and sustainability. The session will also discus the role of synthetic biology in enabling renewable fuels and materials. The Biotechnology for Clean Vehicles session will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (ET) on July 12, 2016, during the Sustainable Transportation Summit in Washington D.C.
On May 18, 2016, USDA announced $21 million in funding to support the development of regional systems for bioenergy and biobased products. The funding is provided through AFRI's Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts (SBEBP) Challenge Area, an initiative of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and is available to applicants in the following priority areas.
- Regional Bioenergy Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) that focus on the production and delivery of regionally-appropriate sustainable biomass feedstocks for bioenergy and bioproducts. While the focus of CAPs will be on feedstocks, competitive proposals must present the feedstock development and production in the context of a comprehensive regional sustainable bioenergy and bioproducts supply chain systems.
- Investing in America's Scientific Corps: Preparing a New Generation of Students, Faculty, and Workforce for Emerging Challenges in Bioenergy, Bioproducts, and the Bioeconomy.
This Request for Applications (RFA) is open to individuals, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, small businesses, and others, with a full list available in Part III A of the current AFRI SBEBP Challenge Area. Proposed budgets under Regional CAP Grants cannot exceed $3 million dollars annually, and project periods should not exceed five years. A letter of intent for the RFA is due by July 14, 2016, by 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with full applications due by September 22, 2016, by 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
On May 6, 2016, DOE announced the $90 million Project Development for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower. As previously reported by BRAG, this funding opportunity is intended to support the construction of bioenergy infrastructure that utilizes advanced pretreatment, process, and convergence technologies. "The domestic bio-industry could play an important part in the growing clean energy economy and in reducing American dependence on imported oil," said Lynn Orr, DOE's Under Secretary for Science and Energy. Further, "[t]his funding opportunity will support companies that are working to advance current technologies and help them overcome existing challenges in bioenergy so the industry can meet its full potential."
There are three topic areas of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), covering: pilot scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulose, algal, or biogas feedstocks; demonstration scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulose, algal, or biogas feedstocks; and production of either biopower or biofuels from biosolids and other allowable wet waste feedstock streams. Funding will be distributed on a cost sharing basis with at least 50 percent of the total allowable cost for demonstration projects coming from non-Federal sources. Applicants should present the entire process of their project, as well as the value proposition, target markets, competitors, distribution channels, barriers to market penetration, and mitigation strategies for the proposed technology. Up to ten percent of the total Phase 1 project budget may be proposed for preparatory research and development. Applicants must submit a concept paper by June 6, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with the full application due by July 22, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
On April 15, 2016, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced a Notice of Intent (NOI) to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled "Project Definition for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower (PD2B3)." The FOA would be managed by the Bioenergy Technologies Office, and will support technology development plans for drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels, bioproducts, or biopower manufacturing. Applicants should address a topic within the following priority areas:
- Pilot-scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulosic, algal, or biogas feedstocks;
- Demonstration-scale production of biofuels from high impact cellulosic, algal, or biogas feedstocks; and
- Production of biopower, bioproducts, and biofuels from biosolids and other waste streams.
The full FOA is expected to be posted on the EERE Exchange on May 2, 2016, with the full NOI currently available.
On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced eight small business contracts through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The eight Phase II contracts provide the companies with $300,000 each to develop and commercialize innovative products that address environmental and public health issues. Phase II funding is typically made available to companies that have already been granted Phase I funding through the SBIR Program. This round of funding included two biobased businesses, Environmental Fuel Research, LLC, a company that is developing a system to produce biofuel from grease trap waste, and Sustainable Bioproducts, LLC, a company that is developing a low-cost, simple, and scalable microbial process for the conversion of organic municipal solid waste to fuels using fungus. The SBIR Program is open to for-profit U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Open solicitations for applicants are listed on the SBIR website, but applications for this specific program are currently closed.
On Monday, October 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) presented “Bioproducts in the Federal Bioeconomy Portfolio Webinar,” a webinar on how the federal government is promoting sustainability through three different avenues: bioproducts research; commercialization; and market development. The presenters on these topics were DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) Technology Manager Nichole Fitzgerald; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred Deputy Program Manager Kate Lewis; and the Ohio State University Bioproducts Innovation Center’s Director Dennis Hall. The webinar summary stated that “the creation of a robust, next-generation domestic bioenergy industry is one of the most important pathways for providing Americans with sustainable, renewable energy alternatives,” and “through research, development, and commercialization to produce renewable fuels and products sustainable and affordable, we can provide home-grown alternatives for the transportation, energy, and bioproducts sectors.”
We summarize below some webinar highlights:
- There are substantial emissions reductions that bioproducts can provide compared to their fossil-derived counterparts (varying from 45 percent up to 86 percent).
- Renewable chemicals have many positive bioeconomy contributions and few negative aspects. Renewable chemicals help the bioeconomy in the following important ways:
- Bolsters the economy (e.g., knowledge from bioproduct production can be transferred to biofuels production);
- Market entry (e.g., corporations will support the bioeconomy through the purchase and use of sustainable products); and
- Renewable chemicals are critical for economic success of advanced biofuel production (e.g., reduces risk by allowing biorefineries to pursue a higher value product).
- National unaided awareness of biobased products has increased -- from 30 percent in 2013 up to 48 percent in 2014.
- The U.S. biobased products industry had significant contributions to the economy in 2013, including:
- Adding four million American jobs, as well as adding 1.64 more jobs per every biobased products job; and
- Adding $369 billion to the economy.
More information on biobased issues is available on Bergeson and Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) website under subject “Biobased Products, Biotechnology.”