The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to using biotechnology and biomanufacturing to improve the lives of Americans and is taking key steps to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative. By understanding and harnessing nature’s sophisticated capabilities, we can address a broad range of topics related to DOE’s mission such as climate change, energy, and supply chain challenges.

As an agency that encompasses a broad range of programs spanning basic science through advanced research, development, and deployment programs, to partnerships with commercial entities, the DOE portfolio provides opportunities to capitalize on new innovations and spark whole new industries. As part of a major effort to capitalize on rapid developments in biotechnology, DOE programs are making substantial investments to translate scientific discoveries to commercial application, underpinning a more globally competitive U.S. bioeconomy while also reducing risk through biosecurity innovations.

Foster innovation across the United States.

DOE Office of Science plans to announce new awards of approximately $178 million for research efforts in: the innovative production of next-generation biofuels, bioproducts, and biomaterials from sustainable resources; novel plant genome-enabled research for identifying gene function relevant to developing dedicated bioenergy crops; understanding the role of microorganisms controlling the cycling of carbon and other nutrients in the environment; and quantum-enabled imaging concepts to expand the ability to visualize complex biological processes within cells.

Bring bio-products to market.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will provide up to $100 million for research and development (R&D) for conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals, including for improved production and recycling of biobased plastics.

DOE EERE will also double efforts, to $120 million, to support the scale-up of biotechnology and biomanufacturing that will lead to commercialization of biorefineries. These biorefineries will produce renewable chemicals and fuels that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, industry, and agriculture.

Expand domestic biomanufacturing.

DOE supports a vibrant domestic biomanufacturing industry through directly funded research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects, and through user facilities and process demonstration units at DOE National Laboratories. EERE efforts in biomanufacturing R&D and scale-up totaling $220 million will continue to accelerate expansion of domestic biomanufacturing, providing new U.S. jobs and helping to achieve DOE missions in energy and climate.

Leverage biotechnology for strengthened supply chains.

Through the Sustainable Aviation Fuel-Grand Challenge, DOE EERE will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to leverage the estimated 1 billion tons of sustainable biomass and waste resources in the United States to provide domestic supply chains for fuels, chemicals, and materials.

To accomplish this, DOE EERE will provide $80 million for R&D to develop sustainable supply chains to produce conversion ready biomass and waste feedstocks to supply renewable carbon for the production of fuels and chemicals.

Train the next generation of biotechnologists.

DOE will continue to support early-career scientists and train the technology workforce through funding opportunities. DOE is also expanding the diversity of the technical workforce, including providing training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty at academic institutions not currently well represented in the U.S. science and technology ecosystem.

DOE user facilities, like the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Demonstration Unit, are actively training the next generation of fermentation and process engineers through partnerships like the Master of Bioprocess Engineering Program jointly with the University of California, Berkeley.

Reduce risk through investing in biosecurity innovations.

DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration plans to initiate a new $20 million Bioassurance program that will advance U.S. capabilities to anticipate, assess, detect, and mitigate biotechnology and biomanufacturing risks and integrate biosecurity into biotechnology development.