On February 8, 2016, DOE announced up to $11.3 million to fund the development of flexible biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can produce biofuels or bioproducts based on market demands. BETO has a goal of meeting the cost target of $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) for renewable hydrocarbon fuels produced from lignocellulosic biomass by 2022 and this funding opportunity should identify research and development (R&D) projects that will further this goal. There are two topic areas for this research:
- Early Technology Readiness Level (TRL) (TRL 2-3) R&D to optimize one unit operation of the proposed conversion pathway.
- Middle Technology Readiness Level (TRL 4-5) R&D to optimize and integrate multiple unit operations of the proposed conversion pathway.
Applicants should submit a concept paper by 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on February 26, 2016, to be eligible to submit a full application by 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on April 15, 2016. An informational webinar will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on February 16, 2016, for potential applicants.
On January 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $15 million in funding for the development of algal biofuel intermediate technologies. Technology applicants should be likely to produce 3,700 gallons of algal biofuel intermediate per acre per year on an annualized average basis in an outdoor test environment by 2020. Applicants should also address a topic area within the priority areas of strain/productivity improvement; improvements in pre-processing technologies (harvesting, dewatering, and extraction and/or equivalent processes); and integration of cultivation with pre-processing technologies. Applicants must submit a concept paper by February 12, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EST), to be eligible to submit a full application by March 25, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).
On December 16, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Progress Report. The report shows the timeline of achievements that have been made since 2014 when the Roadmap was originally created, including the new Renewable Fuel Standard rule, streamlined REAP applications and scoring criteria, expanded biomass definitions, and increased funding for a larger range of biofuel projects. The Roadmap was originally created to take advantage of biogas systems to reduce methane emissions while producing enough energy to power over three million homes by encouraging cost-effective strategies for voluntary methane emission reductions. The report identifies next steps that will occur within the next two years to further this goal, including new modeling efforts for biogas, innovation challenges, and an EPA website for anaerobic digestion and biogas.
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.”
On October 2, 2015, at the 2015 Algae Biomass Organization Summit, the Algae Foundation announced a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded education initiative to enhance algae workforce development. The Algae Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to expanding the algae industry though research, education, and outreach, and plays an important part in advancing the bioeconomy beyond ethanol. The DOE-funded initiative will focus on developing a college degree in algal cultivation technologies that will in turn strengthen workforce capabilities for commercial-scale algae production. The multi-year plan will include the formation of the Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC) that will provide expertise needed to enhance the development of a curriculum and supplemental training materials.
As a reminder, DOE is looking for additional biobased stakeholders to join the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The deadline for nominations is this Friday, August 14, 2015.