Advanced Development and Optimization

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Aerial view of POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY biorefinery in Emmetsburg, Iowa

The Advanced Development and Optimization (ADO) Program culminates the research and development (R&D) work of all other programs in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO)—from feedstocks to conversion to sustainability work along the supply chain. The goal of the ADO Program is to de-risk bioenergy production technologies through validated proof of performance at the pilot, demonstration, and pioneer scales and to remove any additional barriers to commercialization. BETO achieves these goals through public-private partnerships that build and operate integrated biorefineries (IBRs), as well as through projects focused on infrastructure and end-use market barriers. 

Figure 1: ADO supports cost-shared, first-of-a-kind facilities to de-risk new technologies and bring industry beyond the valley of death. Acronyms: technology readiness level (TRL), venture capitalist (VC), and initial public offering (IPO).

ADO activities are essential to resolving key issues in the construction and scale-up of IBR systems and in enabling commercial financing of bioenergy technologies. By creating a pathway to market, ADO helps to address the final links of the bioenergy supply chain and works to overcome market and infrastructure barriers to enable a robust demand for end products. Through five funding solicitations and subsequent project awards, BETO has committed more than $1 billion to IBR projects since 2007.

Integrated Biorefineries

The IBR subprogram aims to de-risk bioenergy production technologies through validated proof of performance at the pilot, demonstration, and pioneer scales. The support and assistance provided by this ADO subprogram plays a vital role in promoting wider adoption of commercial-scale biorefinery projects by private companies in industry, thereby contributing to long-term environmental, social, economic, and energy security benefits. 

Two DOE-funded, pioneer-scale IBRs celebrated their grand openings in 2014. POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY and Abengoa’s Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas are located in Emmetsburg, Iowa, and Hugoton, Kansas, respectively. Once operating at full commercial-scale, these plants will each produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

Additionally, the DuPont biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa, celebrated its grand opening on October 30, 2015. DOE has supported DuPont by contributing more than $51 million towards key bioenergy-conversion technologies and by collaborating on research and development (R&D) projects. At full capacity, the DuPont facility is expected to produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from corn stover that is harvested within a 30-mile radius of the site. 

For more information on BETO’s IBR projects, visit the Integrated Biorefineries Map.

Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines

The Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines initiative aims to simultaneously transform both transportation fuels and vehicles in order to maximize performance and energy efficiency, minimize environmental impact, and accelerate widespread adoption of innovative combustion strategies. This R&D collaboration between DOE, nine national laboratories, and industry is a first-of-its-kind effort to combine biofuels and combustion R&D, building on decades of advances in both fuels and engines.

Aviation Fuels

Under the Defense Production Act, and in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Department of Agriculture, DOE is funding three IBRs that can produce hydrocarbon fuels that meet or are likely to meet military specifications for JP-5 (jet fuel used primarily by the Navy), JP-8 (jet fuel used primarily by the Air Force), or F-76 (diesel). Over the past two years, BETO has contributed $90 million to this effort. The total commitment from this interagency collaboration is $210 million between the three biorefineries; Emerald Biofuels, Fulcrum Bioenergy, and Red Rock Biofuels.

Additionally, the ADO Program builds relationships, shares and collects data, identifies resources, and directs the research, development, and deployment of alternative jet fuels by supporting the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative.


In addition to the significant risks involved with scale-up of new biorefinery technology, other market barriers related to infrastructure and end use also limit the amount of advanced biofuel production. Efforts in this area are focused on enabling higher rates of renewable fuel usage in current markets while addressing barriers for expansion into new markets, such as home-heating oil. Working closely with DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office, BETO will help identify the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of new fuel specifications and work to assist stakeholders in the development and deployment of optimized vehicle systems, new fuel compositions, and compatible infrastructure needed to achieve increased use of advanced biofuels in the U.S. transportation system.

Clean Cookstoves

As a founding partner of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, DOE supports the development of innovative clean cookstoves that aim to meet users’ needs for cost, fuel source, features, durability, and aspirational value as well as field-validated performance such as emissions, efficiency, and safety.


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