The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced a joint multi-topic funding opportunity for $12 million as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative. This collaborative research and development effort supports the research of fuel and engine innovation that maximize vehicle performance and fuel efficiency, and is accelerating the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable biofuels and high-efficiency, low-emission vehicle engines. The current funding opportunity will prioritize research projects in the following areas: batteries and electrification; materials; technology integration and energy efficient mobility systems; energy-efficient commercial off-road vehicle technologies; and co-optimized advanced engine and fuel technologies to improve fuel economy. Concept papers are due May 29, 2018, and full applications are due July 13, 2018, through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Exchange website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 18, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the release of the Co-Optima FY2017 Year in Review.  The Co-Optima initiative is accelerating the introduction of efficient, clean, affordable, and scalable high-performance fuels by bringing together DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), national laboratories, universities, and industry and government stakeholders to collaborate on improvements to biofuels and the development of new technologies.  This report covers significant accomplishments made by Co-Optima in fiscal year 2017 (FY17), including:

  • Establishing an improved merit function that quantifies how fuel properties impact boosted spark ignition (SI) engine efficiency.
  • Identifying representative blendstocks from five chemical families that provide the key fuel properties needed for high-efficiency SI engines.
  • Screening a wide range of blendstocks to assess compatibility with vehicles and infrastructure.
  • Determining relationships that describe how chemical structure impacts key fuel properties.
  • Developing new numerical algorithms and computational tools that accelerate research and development (R&D).
  • Completing integrated, systems-level analyses of blendstocks in relation to economic, technological, market, and environmental factors.

In addition to expounding upon these successes, the Co-Optima initiative report also outlines what impact they can have on U.S. industries. Utilizing these new efficient technologies could significantly reduce fuel costs for passenger and commercial vehicles by billions of dollars, maximize existing fuel infrastructure, and add hundreds of thousands of jobs to the U.S. economy.


 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On February 15, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the release of the Co-Optimization of Engines & Fuels (Co-Optima) report titled Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance (Fuel Blendstocks report), along with the companion report on Efficiency Merit Function for Spark Ignition Engines.  The Fuel Blendstocks report identifies eight blendstocks that have the potential to improve gasoline performance.  The assessment criteria included physical properties, high-level health-impacts, the ability to improve advanced spark-ignition engine efficiency, and the potential to be introduced commercially in the 2025-2030 timeframe.  According to the report, a targeted effort was made to identify fuel components that can be sourced from domestic biomass.  In addition to increasing U.S. energy security and creating jobs in rural America, use of renewable fuel components can provide technical, societal, and environmental benefits.  Part of the Co-Optima objective is focused on developing data on blendstock production, fuel properties, and engine performance to perform a detailed assessment of the benefits of sourcing blendstocks from biomass versus conventional resources, and to identify areas where further research and development are needed.  During the next phase, Co-Optima will validate the potential fuel efficiency improvements through engine testing and will also begin examining fuel efficiency gains in heavy-duty diesel engines.