The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s (FECM's) Carbon Utilization Program announced up to $19 million in federal funding for the advancement of technologies that utilize waste carbon to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and produce reliable feedstocks for biotechnologies.
The funding opportunity announcement (FOA), entitled “Carbon Utilization Technology: Improving Efficient Systems for Algae,” specifically aims to increase the capability of algal systems to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and put it to productive use. Capturing this waste carbon then allows for algae to be cultivated into a variety of biofuels and bioproducts. The deployment of algal technologies in these projects will help lower algal system cost, while decreasing GHG emissions. Additionally, this FOA will contribute to BETO’s goal of producing at least 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuels by 2030.
“This funding opportunity is a great example of the Department’s offices working together on a holistic approach to GHG management and reduction,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for EERE. “Algae technology provides not only an exceptional carbon sink, but a versatile material product which offers solutions to sustainability challenges from fuel to plastics.”
The FOA has two topic areas:
- Topic Area 1: Carbon utilization efficiency from biomass- or atmospheric-based sources of CO2
- Topic Area 2: Algae-based technology to utilize anthropogenic CO2 from utility and industrial sources
The FOA combines the complementary objectives in algal research of both funding offices (EERE and FECM) to further the government-wide approach to the climate crisis by driving the innovation that can lead to the deployment of clean energy technologies by utilizing waste CO2. These technologies will work towards achieving the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Creating conventional petroleum-derived products requires a lot of energy and emissions. The carbon footprint of plastics alone, 2.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2015, shows the need for carbon neutral replacements. Algae can grow on waste CO2, functioning as a carbon sink, and that algae biomass can then be used to create low or no-emissions biofuels and bioproducts which displace GHGs. Biofuels and bioproducts made from algae such as plastics, foams, and chemicals can be direct replacements for so many different everyday products from flip flops to water bottles.
Concept papers for this FOA are due by March 18, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Applications for this FOA are due by May 27, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. ET. For questions, email FY22CarbonUtilizationFOA@ee.doe.gov. To learn more, view the full FOA on Exchange.
This FOA follows the recent announcement of the new AlgaePrize competition from BETO, a competition that encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain. More information about the competition can be found on BETO’s website.