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 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.


 

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On March 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced the publication of the report on the current state of alternative aviation fuels that was developed using findings from peer-reviewed studies, scientific working groups, and BETO stakeholder input from the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop in September 2016.  The four key topic areas include:

 
■  Economic and technical competitiveness;
 
■   Fuel conversion and scale-up;
 
■  Environmental sustainability and life-cycle benefits; and
 
■  Feedstock and product supply chains.

Information gathered during the workshop, such as best practices to finance production facilities, effectively scale biorefining technologies, optimize production economics, and streamline certification processes, will be used to advance the understanding of technical barriers limiting the competitiveness of aviation biofuels.  Many public- and private-sector organizations have committed to adopting biobased aviation fuels because, unlike passenger vehicles, airplanes cannot be fueled with electricity yet.  More information on the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop is available in the Biobased and Renewable Product Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post “DOE Hosts Alternative Aviation Fuels Workshop, New LUC Emissions Research Discussed.”

 

 

On March 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published a notice in the Federal Register regarding an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee.  The meeting will take place March 30-31, 2017, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, and will focus on developing advice and guidance that promotes R&D for the production of biobased fuels and products.  The tentative agenda includes updates on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DOE Biomass R&D activities, the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, and other biomass related R&D programs.  Stakeholders interested in attending the meeting and/or presenting oral comments should contact Dr. Mark Elless (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) and Roy Tiley at (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) at least five business days prior to the meeting.  Meeting minutes will be available for public review on the Biomass R&D website following the meeting.

Tags: DOE, EERE, R&D, Meeting

 

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 February 22, 2017, the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy announced seven recipients of $5.9 million in funding to develop novel ways to use carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from coal-fired power plants.  The projects will focus on converting captured CO2 to useable products.  Recipients of the funding include:
 

■  The University of Kentucky Research Foundation will receive nearly $1 million to convert CO2 to bioplastics using microalgae.  In addition to developing a strategy to maximize value from the algae biomass, researchers will aim to decrease the cost of algae cultivation;
 
■  Researchers at the University of Delaware will receive $800,000 to develop a two-stage electrolyzer process for the conversion of CO2 to alcohols, such as ethanol and propanol;
 
■  The Gas Technology Institute will receive nearly $799,997 to develop a Direct E-Beam Synthesis process to produce chemicals, such as acetic acid, methanol, and CO, from CO2, and an additional $799,807 to develop a novel catalytic reactor process to convert CO2 into methane for syngas production;
 
■  TDA Research, Inc. will receive nearly $799,985 to develop a sorbent-based, thermo-catalytic process to convert CO2 into syngas; and
 
■  Southern Research will receive $799,442 to develop a process to produce light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, from coal-fired flue gas using novel nano-engineered catalysts.

 

On January 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), which aims to aid in providing a more complete definition and quantification of energy employment across the economy.  The report presents direct employment data for jobs associated with traditional energy companies, with the production of renewable energy, and with energy efficiency, and an analysis of a supplemental survey sent to 30,000 energy sector employers.  According to the report, bioenergy electric generation and biofuel sub-technologies employ a total of 112,642 workers, with only 7,980 individuals working exclusively with bioenergy or biomass electric generation technologies.  Nearly 64 percent of the bioenergy and biomass generation workers are employed within the construction industry. 

Corn ethanol fuels employment accounts for 28,613 jobs, primarily within the agriculture and wholesale trade industry.  Ethanol and non-woody biomass fuels employ approximately two percent of the fuels workforce (23,088 jobs).  Since non-woody biomass represents a small portion of the overall fuel source, employment is mainly focused on professional and business services such as research and development.  Woody biomass and cellulosic biofuels support 30,458 jobs, with nearly 56 percent of the jobs in the agriculture industry.  A wide range of other biofuel activity, including early-stage research and development on algal biofuel, syngas, bioheat blends, landfill gas, and advanced biofuels, is captured under the “other biofuels” category.  Together, these technologies employ 22,504 workers, primarily within the professional and business services sector.


 

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.
 
The full RFA is expected to be posted on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Exchange in February 2017, with the full notice of intent currently available.

 

On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and USDA announced a $22.7 million funding opportunity to support integrated biorefinery (IBR) optimization, with DOE providing up to $19.8 million and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) providing up to $2.9 million .  To date, there are only a limited number of pioneer-scale commercial IBRs in the early stages of start-up and production, due to the technical and non-technical challenges associated with the reliable and continuous operation of IBRs.  The funding opportunity will be jointly managed by the DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and USDA-NIFA to address the barriers impeding the wider deployment of highly efficient IBR facilities, including increased capital, operational expenses, and scale-up complications.  Projects will be selected from the following topic areas:
 



 
Robust, continuous handling of solid materials (dry and wet feedstocks, biosolids, and/or residual solids remaining in the process) and feeding systems to reactors under various operating conditions;
 

 
High value products from waste and/or other under-valued streams in an IBR; 
 

 
Industrial separations within an IBR; and  
 
Analytical modeling of solid materials (dry and wet feedstocks, and/or residual solids remaining in the process) and reactor feeding systems. 
 
The submission deadline for concept papers is February 6, 2017, and the submission deadline for full applications is April 3, 2017.

 
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