The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $64 million in funding for 22 projects focused on developing technologies and processes that produce low-cost, low-carbon biofuels. Biofuels are made up of renewable resources and can power heavy-duty vehicles that are difficult to electrify with current technologies—including airplanes and ships—to help accelerate America’s path to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

These selected projects will support the newly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge: an interagency collaboration between DOE, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reduce the cost, enhance the sustainability, and expand the production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). These agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that lays out a commitment to achieve a minimum 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel, to meet a goal of supplying sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050.

The MOU was presented at a Sustainable Aviation Roundtable hosted by the White House on September 9, 2021. More information on SAF interagency collaboration beyond the MOU can be found at the Biomass Research and Development Board website.

These projects fall into five topic areas for the “Bioenergy Technologies Office Scale-Up and Conversion” funding opportunity:

  1. Scale-Up of Biotechnologies
  2. Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion
  3. Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion
  4. Residential Wood Heaters
  5. Renewable Natural Gas

The topic areas include high-impact biotechnology research, development, and demonstration to bolster the body of scientific and engineering knowledge needed to produce low-carbon biofuels at a lower cost.

“Decarbonizing transportation is an essential part of the path to a net-zero carbon future. While electrification of smaller vehicles is gaining momentum, larger vehicles like planes will still rely on liquid fuels for the near future,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “This investment will accelerate the deployment of bioenergy technologies and mobilize public clean energy investment in the biofuels, chemical, and agricultural industries, which can lead to new good-paying jobs across the bioenergy supply chain and increased investment in rural economies.”

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 increasing its emphasis on partnering with industry to demonstrate technologies at a large scale to recognize the urgent need to reduce risks and scale-up SAF production. 


Location (city, state)

Project Title

Federal Share

Topic Area 1a: Scale-Up – Pre-Pilot for Biofuels and Bioproducts

Alder Energy

Charleston, SC

Field-to-Fuel Production of Carbon-Negative Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Regenerative Agriculture Biomass


Gas Technology Institute

Des Plaines, IL

Novel Electric Reformer for Drop-In Fuels from Waste CO2 or Biogas


Gas Technology Institute

Des Plaines, IL

R-GAS Advanced Gasification Pre-Pilot Demonstration for Biofuels (BioRGAS)


Global Algae Innovations

San Diego, CA

Direct Air Capture Algae Cultivation



Soperton, GA

Low-Cost Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Waste CO2


MicroBio Engineering Inc.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Clean Water, Sustainable Aviation Fuel and Renewable Diesel Production from Wastewater


Texas A&M AgriLife Research/Texas A&M University

College Station, TX

Scale-Up of Biodegradable Plastic Product to Enable the Economic Renewable Aviation Fuels


University of Maryland: College Park

College Park, MD

Near-Critical Fluids Treatment for Liquefaction and Extraction of Biofuels


Topic Area 1b: Scale-Up – Pilot Scale for Biofuels and Bioproducts


Grand Forks, ND

Production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels from Corn Stover via NREL's Deacetylation and Mechanical Refining Technology (SAFFiRE)


Topic Area 1c: Scale-Up – Demonstration for Biofuels and Bioproducts

SkyNRG Americas Inc.

Bend, OR

Project LOTUS: Landfill Off-gas to Ultra-Low Carbon Intensity SAF



Pinellas Park, FL

Demonstration Scale-Up: TRIFTS Biogas to Renewable Fuel


Topic Area 2: Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion


Thomaston, CA

Sugar Is the New Crude


National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Golden, CO

Production of Low-Cost and Highly Fermentable Sugar from Corn Stover via Chemical-Recovery-Free Deacetylation and Mechanical Refining Process


Topic Area 3a: Separations to Improve Arrested Anaerobic Digestion Process Development

Quasar Energy Group

Independence, OH

High Solids In Situ Product Recovery; The Next Generation of Arrested Anaerobic Digestion Technology


Topic Area 3b: Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion (Bioprocessing Separations Consortium)

Archer Daniels Midland

Decatur, IL

Demonstration of Continuous Biobutanol Fermentation Integrated with Membrane Solvent Extraction



Wilmington, DE

Enabling Lignin Valorization with Liquid-Liquid Chromatography


RAPID Manufacturing Institute

New York, NY

Physical Property Data and Models in Support of Bioprocessing Separation Technologies for Organic Acids Separation


Topic Area 4: Residential Wood Heaters

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

Development of Forced-Air Combustion Systems with Automated Controls to Reduce Emissions from Cordwood Room Heaters


University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

Clean Combustion Technology with Efficient and Autonomous Wood Heater Operation over the Full Cycle


Topic Area 5a: Renewable Natural Gas (R&D)

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Low-Temperature CO2 Methanation for Biogas-to-Renewable Natural Gas Conversion via Advanced Ni-Based Catalysts


Washington University – St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

Upgrading Biogas through In Situ Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Biomethane in Anaerobic Digesters


Topic Area 5b: Renewable Natural Gas (Pilot Scale)

Summit Utilities

Yarmouth, ME

Renewable Power-to-Gas (PtG): A Technical Feasibility and Market Demonstration of Biomethanation as a Means for Biogas Upgrading and Renewable Natural Gas Production