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Funding Amount: Up to $28,000,000
Open Date: May 3, 2018
Funding Number: DE-FOA-0001916

The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $28 million to provide technological solutions to develop highly efficient conversion processes for improving the affordability of fuels and products from biomass and waste streams. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) addresses high impact areas of early-stage research to enhance U.S. energy independence, create domestic jobs, and revitalize rural communities.

One of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) goals is to fund research and development (R&D) for pathways that produce $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) renewable hydrocarbon fuels from lignocellulosic biomass or other waste feedstocks by 2022. To support this goal, this FOA seeks to address new research strategies and opportunities relative to BETO’s current portfolio, including utilizing waste streams (e.g., lignin, CO2, and biosolids) more effectively, improving organic and inorganic catalysts for lignocellulosic biomass conversion, and creating high-value performance-advantaged bioproducts that can improve the viability of fuel production from biomass and waste feedstocks.  BETO anticipates funding 14-28 awards for between $1 million and $2.5 million each.

This FOA has six topic areas:

Topic Area 1: ChemCatBio Industry Partnerships. The Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy (ChemCatBio) consortium is a national laboratory-led R&D consortium dedicated to identifying and overcoming catalysis challenges for biomass conversion processes. This topic area will provide funding for collaborative projects between industry and ChemCatBio aimed at tackling fundamental challenges in catalyst development that can reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of converting biomass feedstocks into fuels, intermediates, and co-products.

Topic Area 2: Agile BioFoundry Industrial Partnership Initiative. The Agile BioFoundry is a national laboratory-led R&D consortium dedicated to identifying and overcoming biomanufacturing challenges. This topic area will provide funding for collaborative projects between industry and the Agile BioFoundry to accelerate innovation and adoption of new biomanufacturing approaches and will foster the growth of the U.S. bioeconomy. These projects will allow industrial partners to utilize the tools and capabilities at the Agile BioFoundry to develop novel microbial hosts and bioproducts or to develop new capabilities and approaches that will advance all aspects of the biomanufacturing cycle.

Topic Area 3: Performance Advantaged Bioproducts. Novel, performance-advantaged biobased products and functional replacements are chemicals designed to take advantage of the high oxygen content of biomass. This topic area seeks proposals to: 1) Use computational methods and/or high-throughput screening to elucidate structure-function relationships for novel biobased chemicals; 2) Develop and implement a high-throughput screening protocol that utilizes a set of industrially relevant metrics to more efficiently and effectively identify performance advantaged biobased chemicals.

Topic Area 4: Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biopower from Wet Organic Wastes. Wet organic waste streams present disposal problems, but also represent valuable potential feedstocks. This topic seeks to valorize wet organic waste streams, solving waste disposal problems and producing valuable energy products. DOE seeks applications in two subareas: 1) Anaerobic processes economically suitable for operation at scales at or below 1 dry ton of feedstocks per day, roughly equivalent to 1 million gallons/day of municipal wastewater; and 2) Alternatives to traditional anaerobic digestion with potential for direct production of higher value products than biogas.

Topic Area 5: Rewiring Carbon Utilization. There is an opportunity to “rewire” carbon conversion by using electricity to transform waste carbon dioxide (CO2) into intermediates and subsequently to fuels and products through biological system engineering. The goal of this topic area is to leverage non-biological CO2 utilization technologies that efficiently generate reduced carbon intermediates and merge them with biological systems that are designed to generate fuels and products from waste CO2.

Topic Area 6: Lignin Valorization. Lignin constitutes 15-40% of biomass carbon, but it is currently considered a waste-stream in biorefineries that is generally burned for heat and power. This topic area solicits proposals that address challenges to the conversion of lignin streams into higher value fuels and co-products, such as through improved recovery, deconstruction, upgrading, and utilization of lignin.

Learn more about this funding opportunity and apply.  Register to attend an information webinar about this FOA on May 15, 2018.  Letters of intent are due by May 30, 2018.  Full applications are due by June 27, 2018.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage R&D of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the U.S. economy.