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By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On February 1, 2022, DOE EERE BETO issued two new requests for information (RFI) on biomass conversion R&D and community organic waste programs. The RFI titled “Biomass Conversion Research, Development, and Analysis Programs” focuses on biomass conversion R&D and seeks to address improved robustness of microbial cells, catalytic processes, and state-of-technology analyses in the BETO research portfolio. Through this program, BETO is interested in receiving feedback on barriers, capabilities, tools, and other general information needed to prioritize future R&D programs in the areas of organism and catalyst development. BETO also seeks input on which analyses are most useful to the broader bioenergy research and industrial community. Responses to this RFI must be submitted by March 11, 2022, and are required to be provided as an attachment via e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

DOE EERE BETO’s RFI titled “Community-scale Resource and Energy Recovery from Waste Solutions” requests feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to community programs for organic waste. DOE EERE wishes to understand better which wastes related to economic, environmental, and social impacts are of highest priority to communities and how DOE can make its Conversion R&D program more effective in addressing these types of challenges. BETO is particularly interested in input on five different waste streams: dairy manure, swine manure, food waste, municipal wastewater residuals, and fats/oils/greases. Responses to this RFI must also be submitted by March 11, 2022, and provided as an attachment via e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). In lieu of providing written responses to this RFI, BETO is also accepting requests for a 30-minute individual discussion via e-mail. Additional information on both RFIs is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On January 13, 2022, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), in collaboration with the Algae Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, opened the AlgaePrize competition for high school through graduate students in the United States. This new prize focuses on the development, design, and invention of algal technologies to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through algae commercialization. During the competition, teams will participate in an 18-month process of pursuing the technologies for algae production, downstream processing, and/or identification of novel products or tools. The AlgaePrize grand champion winner will receive a total of $20,000 cash prize.

The competition is open to teams of two or more students who are currently enrolled in an education program based in the United States. Students interested in participating in the competition must register by March 2, 2022. Additional information is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 
 
On January 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that seven research and development (R&D) projects were selected to receive $13.4 million in funding for R&D projects to advance next generation plastic technologies to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of single-use plastics. The selected R&D projects, led by industry and universities, will focus on converting plastic films into more valuable materials and designing new plastics that are more recyclable and biodegradable. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm stated that “By advancing technologies that repurpose single-use plastics and make the materials biodegradable, we can hit a trifecta of reduced plastic waste, fewer emissions from the plastics industry, and an influx of clean manufacturing jobs for American workers.”
 
According to DOE’s EERE, less than ten percent of plastics are recycled currently. Those plastics that are recycled are typically “downcycled” or repurposed into low-value products. The selected projects will work to develop affordable solutions for “upcycling” plastics into more valuable materials and to design new plastics that are recyclable and biodegradable.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), in collaboration with the Algae Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, opened the AlgaePrize competition for high school through graduate students in the United States. This new prize focuses on the development, design, and invention of algal technologies to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through algae commercialization. During the competition, teams will participate in an 18-month process of pursuing the technologies for algae production, downstream processing, and/or identification of novel products or tools. The AlgaePrize grand champion winner will receive a total of $20,000 cash prize.
 
The competition is open to teams of two or more students who are currently enrolled in an education program based in the United States. Students interested in participating in the competition must register by March 2, 2022. Additional information is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On December 23, 2021, DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the scale-up and demonstration of renewable fuels. In the RFI “Overcoming Barriers to Renewable Fuel Scale-Up and Demonstration,” DOE expresses its wish to obtain input from biofuels producers and technology developers regarding their readiness to scale process technologies to pilot- and demonstration-scale sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable diesel, and renewable marine fuels. DOE also seeks feedback on how existing first-generation ethanol and other industries could be leveraged to provide low-cost feedstock and infrastructure for biofuels production. The RFI has six categories:

  • Biofuel Pathway Scale-Up Forecasts;
  • Barriers to Scale-Up of SAF, Marine, and Renewable Diesel Technologies;
  • Leveraging First-Generation Ethanol and Other Incumbent Industries;
  • BETO Scale-Up of Biotechnologies Strategy;
  • Leveraging National Laboratory Professional Development Units (PDU) to Scale-Up Renewable Fuels; and
  • Feedstock Production and Supply.

DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) will use the information collected from this RFI to chart the potential growth of domestic renewable fuels production by 2030. BETO also wishes to understand better the existing and potential barriers that producers face in the scaling-up pathway. Responses to this RFI must be submitted on or prior to 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 31, 2022. Additional details on how to apply can be accessed here.

Tags: DOE, RFI, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On December 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $54 million in seed funding for U.S. small businesses to research, develop, and create commercialization action plans for new technologies that accelerate the national transition to a clean energy economy. Led by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the opportunity provides that applicants may receive up to $250,000 and become eligible for up to $1.6 million in follow-on funding. To receive funding, applicants must have projects that can help:

  • Diversify sustainable sources of minerals and materials needed to manufacture clean energy technologies;
  • Enhance thermal energy storage technologies for buildings;
  • Improve recyclability and reuse of retired solar panels and components;
  • Increase hydropower and marine energy generation;
  • Convert biomass and other waste into cost-effective, carbon-free fuels; and
  • Develop technologies for affordable, efficient hydrogen production, delivery, and storage.

DOE will also award funding to proposals to license technologies developed by a DOE national lab. Small businesses interested in applying for an SBIR or STTR award must submit a letter of intent by January 3, 2022, 5:00 p.m. (EST). Full applications are due on February 22, 2022. A full list of topics and additional details about this opportunity are available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued a notice of intent to release a second Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to accelerate the scale-up of biofuel and bioproduct refineries. Funded by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), this FOA will include efforts for pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration scale projects. The FOA will fund projects in the planning phase, projects that already have a design package and are ready to construct, and projects that were funded by DOE previously for design work.

Tags: DOE, EERE, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 30, 2021, DOE announced the launch of a new prize that will award up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to ten groups and organizations that support entrepreneurship and innovation in historically underserved communities. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize acknowledges that underserved populations have been and continue to be more susceptible to the negative impact of climate change, global warming, and pollution. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED), hope to improve disadvantaged communities’ access to clean energy innovation ecosystems and to opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to prioritize environmental and economic justice in the United States’ transition into a net-zero economy by 2050. The goals of the Prize are to:

  • Enable clean energy and climate innovation at colleges and universities serving large populations of students that are underrepresented in STEM, Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), community colleges, and undergraduate institutions.
     
  • Create and increase participation in clean energy and climate-smart job training and placement, including programs that target participation from:
     
    • Underserved populations;
       
    • Formerly incarcerated individuals; and
       
    • Youth transitioning from foster care.
       
  • Foster just and equitable clean energy deployment through grassroots innovation activities focused on community-centric networks and bottom-up solutions for sustainable development based on the needs of the communities involved.
     
  • Identify and fund activities that will help bring awareness to DOE, federal, state, local government, or private funding in support of the Justice40 goals.
     
  • Enable the development of replicable clean energy transitions that deliver just and equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities.

DOE and ED will distribute Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize funds in two phases. In Phase One, winners will receive an initial cash prize of $200,000 each, with an opportunity to receive additional awards, mentorship, and other services. Phase One winners will also be eligible for participation in Phase Two prizes. In Phase Two, up to three teams will receive cash prizes from a pool of $500,000.

Phase One applications may be submitted until 5:00 p.m. (EST) on February 25, 2022, with winner announcements in March 2022. Phase Two applications may be submitted beginning in March 2023. Information on how to apply is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

As part of a White House roundtable to launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050, on September 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on the production of cost-effective and low-carbon biofuels. DOE aims to advance technologies to replace petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty forms of transportation, such as airplanes and ships.
 
DOE Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm stated that, although heavy-duty vehicles in the transportation sector such as planes and ships are difficult to electrify, decarbonizing transportation is a critical part of the path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Also as part of the SAF Grand Challenge, DOE signed on September 8, 2021, a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The memorandum formalizes the DOE, DOT, and USDA’s collaborative efforts on the required research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to reach the goals of supplying at least three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and sufficient SAF to meet 100 percent of aviation fuel demand by 2050.
 
DOE selected 22 projects to receive the available funds administered by its Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). The projects target high-impact bioenergy technology RD&D to increase foundational knowledge and scale up systems to produce low-carbon biofuels at lower costs, covering five topic areas:

  • Scale-Up of Biotechnologies;
  • Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion;
  • Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion;
  • Residential Wood Heaters; and
  • Renewable Natural Gas.

Additional information about the selected projects is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 
 
On August 27, 2021, DOE’s EERE, in partnership with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute (CESMII), announced the selections of four new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centers (SMICs). SMICs offer specialized training and direct industry engagement to help U.S. manufacturers implement smart manufacturing technologies to optimize their use of materials and energy. CESMII, an institute funded by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, focuses on accelerating the adoption of smart manufacturing through integration of advanced sensors, data analytics, platforms, and controls. SMICs allow manufacturers to tap into CESMII’s manufacturing resources, helping CESMII expand institute-developed technologies, training, and hands-on demonstrations.


 
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