By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On September 26, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of an additional project for the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) Advanced Algal Systems Program funding opportunity announcement (FOA). DOE is awarding up to $3.5 million to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to more than double the productivity of biofuel precursors from algae. Researchers aim to improve productivity by increasing algal cultivation productivity, optimizing biomass composition, and extracting and separating different types of algal lipids to reduce the cost for lipid upgrading to renewable diesel. The project team includes researchers from NREL, as well as Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, Arizona State University, Sandia National Laboratories, POS Bio-Sciences, Sapphire Energy, and Utah State University.
In addition to the $3.5 million being provided, DOE provided $15 million in Fiscal Year 2016 for three projects under the Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2) FOA. BETO expects that projects selected under this FOA will help demonstrate a reasonable and realistic plan to produce 3,700 gallons/acre/year by 2020.
On January 19, 2017, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory issued a $55 million funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to establish additional Integrated Biofuel Production Enterprise (IBPE) capabilities to increase the domestic production capacity of advanced biofuels. The U.S. Air Force anticipates granting one award of up to $55 million in funding with the recipients required to share at least 50 percent of the total project cost. The project will include the design, construction and/or retrofit, operation, and qualification of a domestic IBPE with a capacity to produce at least ten million gallons of neat biofuel per year. The FOA states that proposals can involve Brown Field expansion and/or modification of existing Pilot-scale facilities, commercial-scale facilities, or new Green Field construction. Notice of intent to submit a proposal is due by April 25, 2017, with full proposals due by May 25, 2017.
On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of up to $8 million dollars, subject to appropriations, for innovative technologies that assist in the advancement of algae bioenergy and bioproducts. The FOA consists of two topic areas, including strain improvement for the development of enhanced algal strains, and algae cultivation biology improvement for the development of increased areal productivity and biofuel yield. The objective of the FOA titled “Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits” is to double the current state of seasonal algal biomass productivities by overcoming species-specific, ecological, and practical challenges and to improve algal productivity and biomass composition using breakthroughs in advanced biology and biology-based tools. Selected projects will include techno-economic and life-cycle analyses of their proposed approaches to aid commercialization, and data sharing with the research and development community to accelerate future innovations. Concept papers are due by January 13, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST) and full applications are due by February 22, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).
On August 1, 2016, DOE released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for $7 million to research fuel and engine co-optimization technologies. Funding will be provided through the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative, a collaboration between DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), bringing together national laboratories and industry to conduct tandem fuel and engine research, development, and deployment assessments. This initiative works to improve near-term conventional spark-ignition engine efficiency and enable full operability of advanced compression ignition engines. Research cycles include identifying fuel candidates, understanding their characteristics, and determining market transformation requirements. This FOA is restricted to U.S. Institutions of Higher Education and nonprofit research institutions operating under U.S. Institutions of Higher Education. Proposals should address one or more of the following sub-topics:
- Fuel characterization and fuel property prediction;
- Kinetic measurement and mechanism development;
- Emissions and environmental impact analysis;
- Impact of fuel chemistry and fuel properties on particulate emissions;
- Small-volume, high-throughput fuel testing; and
- Additional barriers.
Concept papers are due by August 15, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT), with full applications due on September 18, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requested proposals for "Reducing EMbodied energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing." This funding opportunity is for the development of technologies that reduce life-cycle energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with the production and processing of industrial-scale materials. Up to $70 million is available through REMADE through 2020 with key focus areas including, but not limited to:
- Information collection, standardization, and design tools for tracking materials, reducing waste, and predicting how a process will work with secondary feedstocks or reused materials;
- Rapid gathering, identification, and sorting of end-of-life and waste materials;
- Separating mixed materials;
- Removal of trace contaminants; and
- Robust and cost-effective reprocessing and disposal methods.
More information is available through the funding opportunity announcement (FOA). Concept papers are due by July 28, 2016, at 5:00 pm (ET) and full applications are due by September 28, 2016, at 5:00 pm (ET).
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).
Kia Motors Corporation announced this week that "the company's new Soul EV (electric vehicle), which will have its world premiere at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show starting later this week, has achieved UL Environment validation for bio-based organic carbon content for 10% of its interior materials. UL Environment is the environmental business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a global independent safety science company." The Company explained that "[v]arious bio-based materials have been applied to the Soul EV, such as bio degradable plastic, bio-foam and bio-fabric. Unlike previous plastic materials that are based from oils, bio-based materials are derived from biomass, which is a photosynthate. Such modern biochemical technologies have replaced the majority of the existing chemistry industry by offering an alternative through development of new bio-materials." A copy of the Company's press release is available online.