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The Energy Department today announced up to $11.3 million in funding to develop flexible biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can be modified to produce advanced fuels and/or products based on external factors, such as market demand. These pathways could consist of a route to a platform chemical that could be converted to products or renewable hydrocarbon fuels or a route that co-produces chemicals and renewable hydrocarbon fuels.
The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has a goal of meeting the 2022 cost target of $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) for the production of renewable hydrocarbon fuels from lignocellulosic biomass. One approach BETO has taken previously to achieve this goal is to focus on conversion pathways that produce biofuels, with little or no emphasis on coproducing bioproducts. As BETO increasingly focuses on renewable hydrocarbon fuels, it is examining strategies that capitalize on revenue from bioproducts as part of cost-competitive biofuel production. A variety of technology pathways can be used to produce hydrocarbon biofuels, but many of them require the production of value-added chemicals and products in the near term to achieve an attractive rate of return on cost-competitive fuels. Value-added chemicals and products can also incentivize the de-risking of “front end” processes (from feedstock logistics through to deconstruction) that are necessary for fuel production.
In response to this need, the intent of this funding opportunity is to identify research and development (R&D) projects that propose a conversion pathway that may flexibly produce bioproducts and biofuels. The proposed pathway must illustrate a realistic approach to producing cost-competitive renewable hydrocarbon biofuels. These pathways could consist of a route to a platform chemical that could be converted to products or fuels, or a route that coproduces chemicals and fuels. Successful applications will include a clear justification for producing the target molecule(s) from biomass, a compelling narrative explaining how the target product(s) will enable biofuels, and supporting techno-economic analysis and life-cycle analysis. It is important to note that while bioproducts are seen as a valuable strategy for enabling fuels, BETO is not interested in pursuing R&D solely on bioproducts that do not contain a fuels component.
There will be two topic areas:
- 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.
If successful, the anticipated outcomes are:
- Identification of promising conversion technology pathways that can be incorporated into the BETO research portfolio to demonstrate and experimentally verify a hydrocarbon fuel modeled cost of $3/gge.
- Successful R&D on unit operations or integrated pathways that further the state of technology for biomass to biofuels conversion.
- Increased private investment for biofuels and bioproducts due to improved confidence in biomass to biofuels conversion technologies.
- Replacement of fossil fuel-derived chemicals with biomass-derived chemicals.
Learn more information about this funding opportunity and application requirements at the EERE Exchange website. Applicants must submit a concept paper by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Feb. 26, 2016, to be eligible to submit a full application. The full application is due 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, April 15, 2016. An informational webinar for potential applicants will take place at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Feb. 16, 2016. A recording of the webinar will be posted on the EERE Exchange website.
The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.