The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $29.5 million to 15 projects to improve the current science and infrastructure for utilizing waste streams, often disproportionately located in underserved communities, and support the development of improved organisms and inorganic catalysts for the production of valuable biofuels and bioproducts that can benefit the local energy economy. This effort will advance the Biden Administration’s goals to deliver an equitable, clean energy future, and put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.

 “It is our responsibility to lift burdens from communities and help them achieve a safer and more sustainable future while we continue to set the global standard for environmental stewardship,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These investments in bioenergy waste and carbon conversion technologies will transform an economic and environmental hardship into a clean energy asset.”

Waste streams, including municipal solid waste, animal manure, wastewater residuals, and other organic wastes, are a key feedstock for producing biofuels and bioproducts. However, these waste streams can be an economic liability to the communities managing them and often lead to a multitude of health impacts on surrounding populations.

The selected projects will:

  • Research and develop valuable bioenergy resources: Awardees across 5 projects will look into the development of improved organisms and inorganic catalysts to support the next generation of low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts.
  • Improve science and infrastructure for converting waste streams: Awardees across 10 projects will help enable waste feedstocks utilization and robust conversion processes to produce low-carbon biofuels that reduce emissions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation. This effort is complementary to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, a government-wide effort which aims to achieve a zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050.

These projects fall into four topic areas for the “FY22 Waste Feedstocks and Conversion R&D” funding opportunity:

  1. Municipal Solid Waste Feedstock Technologies
  2. Robust Microbial Cells
  3. Robust Catalytic Processes
  4. Community Scale Resource and Energy Recovery from Organic Wastes

These investments are administered by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), which is focused on developing technologies that convert domestic biomass and other waste resources into low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts. BETO is part of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The following topics were selected:

Selectee

Location (City, State)

Project Title

Federal Cost Share

Topic Area 1: Municipal Solid Waste Feedstock Technologies

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY

Surface Enhanced Preprocessing of MSW for Year-Round Supply of Conversion-Ready Feedstocks

 $2,116,749

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, MA

Removing Physical and Chemical Bottlenecks for Hydrothermal Waste-to-Energy through Intensified Conditioning of Blended High Solid Waste Slurries

 $1,628,551

Gas Technology Institute

Des Plaines, IL

Carbonaceous Chemistry Improvement of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Gasification

 $1,637,362

Michigan Technical University

Houghton, MI

Solvent Targeted Recovery and Precipitation (STRAP) For Recovery of Biogenic Materials and Plastics from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

$2,250,000

Iowa State University

Ames, IA

Conversion of Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) Rejected Wastes to Value-added Products for Various Material Applications

 $2,250,000

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC

Sargassum and Wood Waste for Aviation Fuel and Graphite (SWAG)

 $2,250,000

Topic Area 2: Robust Microbial Cells

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

Understanding and Controlling Cell-to-Cell Variability for Robust Bioconversion

$2,458,134

Washington State University

Pullman, WA

Improving the Longevity of Methanothermobacter wolfeii strain BSEL when Converting Biogas with Hydrogen to Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)

$2,500,000

The Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Continuous n-butanol production from lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysates

$2,500,000

Topic Area 3: Robust Catalytic Processes

Tallgrass MLP Operations, LLC

Leawood, KS

Robust Engineered Catalyst Demonstration for Ethanol to Sustainable Aviation Fuel via Oxygenate Intermediate

$2,500,000

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

Sustainable Aviation Fuels from Biomass Derived Ethanol

$2,500,000

Topic Area 4: Community Scale Resource and Energy Recovery from Organic Wastes

City of Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville, FL

Anaerobic Digestion Feasibility Analysis

$400,000

Yolo County Division of Integrated Waste Management

Woodland, CA

TRIFTS Biogas to Renewable Fuel Technology Evaluation

 $1,498,904

Great Lakes Water Authority

Detroit, MI

Hydrothermal Liquefaction to Convert Organic Wet Waste to Transportation Fuels

$1,500,000

Town of Yarmouth 

Yarmouth, MA

Cape Cod Municipal Solid Waste Organics Diversion & Contamination Mitigation Program

$1,495,000