Bioenergy Technologies Office Closed Funding Opportunities

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This page archives the Bioenergy Technologies Office's (BETO's) past solicitations and awardees—from 2007 to the present. Click the links below to go directly to specific solicitations or years. To view announcements related to BETO projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), visit the Recovery Act Web page.

2018

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2007

2018

Research Projects to Advance Biofuels, Bioenergy, and Biobased Products

WASHINGTON – On May 9, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $3 million in funding for advanced biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). DOE has selected two projects from the University of Tennessee and Northwestern University that will receive between $1 million to $2 million each.
 
Research projects funded through BRDI—a joint program organized through DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of biomass and increase the availability of competitively-priced renewable fuels and biobased products, all while helping to improve energy security by increasing and diversifying our domestic energy sources.
 
Integrating science and engineering, the two DOE projects will develop diverse, cost-effective cellulosic biomass technologies for use in the production of biofuels, as well as a range of biobased products that potentially can increase the economic feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery. The DOE selections are:
 
  • The University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville, TN – UT will be developing an integrated biorefinery design that combines the production of liquid fuels and renewable chemicals to verify production of affordable cellulosic ethanol.
  • Northwestern University (NU), Evanston, IL – NU will be developing a rapid synthesis of next-generation biofuels and bioproducts from lignocellulosic biomass. The project will employ several strategies to reduce the timeframe of discovering biosynthetic pathways to optimize fuel and chemical production, including bottom-up engineering principles, computational models, and cell-free framework systems.

Both these projects will lower the costs of the production of bio-based fuels, as well as co-products for chemicals and other uses. If successful, both projects will help the Bioenergy Technologies Office to meet its goal of less than $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent for advanced biofuels.

 
The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates research and development of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable energy technologies and solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, and boost domestic energy production, energy resilience, and energy affordability. Learn more about EERE's work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies. For more information on funding opportunities for advanced bioenergy technology projects, see the Bioenergy Technologies Office's financial opportunities.
 

Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines

On May 2, 2018, the Energy Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) released a multi-topic funding opportunity announcement (FOA). Topic five of the FOA will be jointly funded by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), as a part of BETO and VTO’s joint Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) Initiative. Co-Optima is a collaborative research and development effort between the two offices that supports research of fuel and engine innovations that work together to maximize vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. The initiative is accelerating the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable biofuels and high-efficiency, low-emission vehicle engines.
 
FOA Topic 5 has two subtopics:
 
  • Topic 5a: Multi-Mode Optimized Fuel/Engine System Development: The objective of this area of interest is to develop a co-optimized (engine and fuel) prototype light-duty, multi-cylinder reciprocating engine (minimum 150 horsepower). The first topic area will solicit multidisciplinary industry teaming projects to develop a spark-ignition/compression ignition multimode combustion regime over a broad range of engine operating conditions with a suitable co-optimized fuel. Applicant teams must include: 1) a vehicle or engine manufacturer who has produced at least 20,000 vehicles or a Tier I supplier who has provided major componentry for at least 20,000 engines; and, 2) a fuel manufacturer or fuel supplier.   
  • Topic 5b: Bioblendstocks to Optimize Mixing Controlled Compression Ignition (MCCI) Engines: The objective of this area of interest is to develop and demonstrate single component or multi-component bioblendstocks for use in medium- and heavy-duty mixing controlled, compression ignition engines blended into a base diesel fuel at no less than 5% by volume that achieves greenhouse gas reductions of at least 50% compared to conventional petroleum-derived diesel.  Applicant teams should include university and/or industry members and could include a vehicle or engine manufacturer.
  • Successful applicant teams for both topic areas will work closely with the national laboratories and universities that are currently a part of the Co-Optima Initiative. Projects awarded under this FOA will complement ongoing work at the national labs and universities and will enable a deeper engagement with industry.
 
Funding for the Co-Optima portion of the FOA will total up to $12 million, combined, from VTO and BETO.  Concept papers are due May 29, 2018, and full applications will be due July 13, 2018. For more information and application requirements, please visit the EERE Exchange website.
 

2017

Advancements in Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2) Additional Selection

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of one additional project, for up to $3.5 million, as part of the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO’s) Advanced Algal Systems Program funding opportunity announcement (FOA). For Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2), in Fiscal Year 2016, DOE awarded $15 million for three projects. In Fiscal Year 2017, DOE has selected one more project: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 
 
The funding will help BETO support a project to develop technologies that are likely to succeed in producing 3,700 gallons of algal biofuel intermediate (or equivalent dry weight basis) per acre per year (gal/acre/yr) on an annualized average basis. This amount will be produced through multiple batch campaigns or on a semi-continuous or continuous basis, in an outdoor test environment, by 2020. BETO expects that projects selected under this ABY2 FOA will help demonstrate a reasonable and realistic plan to produce 3,700 gal/acre/yr by the end of the performance period.

NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY, “REWIRING ALGAL CARBON ENERGETICS FOR RENEWABLES (RACER)”

This national laboratory team also includes members from Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, Arizona State University, POS Bio-Sciences, and Sapphire Energy. The team’s goal is to more than double the productivity of biofuel precursors from algae by making improvements at many stages of the project. These improvements include increasing algal cultivation productivity, optimizing biomass composition, and extracting and separating different types of algal lipids to reduce the cost for lipid upgrading to renewable diesel. The team has chosen one highly promising algal species, and they will focus on fundamental cell carbon bioenergetics to most efficiently channel the carbon dioxide taken in from the atmosphere into useful intermediate products. 
 
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid. BETO contributes to EERE’s mission by working with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in algal biofuels technologies.
 

Integrated Biorefinery Optimization

On September 20, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) has selected eight projects to negotiate for up to $15 million in total DOE funding to optimize integrated biorefineries. These projects will work to solve critical research and developmental challenges encountered for the successful scale-up and reliable operations of integrated biorefineries (IBRs), decrease capital and operating expenses, and focus on the manufacture of advanced or cellulosic biofuels and higher-value bioproducts. These investments support the development of bioproducts, a workforce in bioenergy, and help to spur the creation of a sustainable domestic bioeconomy. 

The selected projects include the following:

  • Thermochemical Recovery International Inc. (Baltimore, Maryland)—Thermochemical Recovery International (TRI) will study and improve feedstock and residual solids handling systems targeted to commercial pyrolysis and gasification reactors. TRI’s work in these systems will promote feedstock flexibility and enable the processing of low-cost feedstock to enhance IBRs’ economic viability.
  • Texas A&M Agrilife Research (College Station, Texas)—Texas A&M will work on achieving a multi-stream integrated biorefinery (MIBR), where lignin-containing IBR waste will be fractionated to produce lipid for biodiesel, asphalt binder modifier, and quality carbon fiber. The MIBR will improve IBR sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
  • White Dog Labs (New Castle, Delaware)—White Dog Labs’ project will use the residual cellulosic sugars in cellulosic stillage syrup to produce single-cell protein (SCP) for aquaculture feed. Currently, the syrup content is used for biogas production and as the solid fuel for boilers. The SCP is a higher-value product that could be generated from an existing stream and could enhance the economic feasibility of IBRs.
  • South Dakota School of Mines (Rapid City, South Dakota)—The South Dakota School of Mines will demonstrate the cost-effective production of biocarbon, carbon nanofibers, polylactic acid, and phenol from the waste streams generated from the biochemical platform technology. These products will generate revenue for IBRs and help lower the fuel cost from these facilities.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado)—The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will leverage and extend state-of-the-art modeling and simulation tools to develop integrated simulations for feed handling and reactor feeding systems. The experimentally validated simulation toolkit will be generalized to aid in optimizing and de-risking biomass conversion processes that use these common feed handling and reactor feeding units. The toolkit will also provide correlations to adjust optimal operating conditions based on feedstock parameters.
  • Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina)—Clemson University will develop analytical tools to identify an optimal IBR process design for the reliable, cost-effective, sustainable, and continuous feeding of biomass feedstocks into a reactor.
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana)—Purdue University aims to develop strong, innovative computational and empirical models that rigorously detail the multiphase flow of biomass materials. Purdue University will characterize physical, structural, and compositional properties of biomass feedstocks, and compare results of these models with actual flow behavior of biomass materials within a biorefinery.
  • Forest Concepts (Auburn, Washington) —Forest Concepts proposes to develop robust feedstock handling modeling and simulation tools based on systematic analysis. The team will develop and validate a comprehensive computational model to predict mechanical and rheological behavior of biomass flow to enable reliable design of biomass handling systems.

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Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits (PEAK)

On July 11, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of three projects to receive up to $8 million, aimed at reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts. These projects will deliver high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms and cultures. They will also deliver biology-focused breakthroughs while enabling accelerated future innovations through data sharing within the research and development community. This funding supports the development of a bioeconomy that can help create jobs, spur innovation, improve quality of life, and achieve national energy security.

The selected projects include the following:

  • Lumen Bioscience (Seattle, Washington): Working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lumen Bioscience will rapidly engineer strains that grow robustly in seawater, resist contamination and predation, and accumulate substantial amounts of energy-rich components. Lumen Bioscience is focusing on agricultural production of algae on otherwise non-productive land in rural eastern Washington State, with the ultimate goal of creating new agricultural jobs in that region.
  • Global Algae Innovations (El Cajon, California): Pond ecology has a major impact on algal health and productivity, yet very little is known about the impacts of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. In partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, University of California at San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the J. Craig Venter Institute, Global Algae Innovations will deliver a tool for low cost, rapid analysis of pond microbiota, gather data on the impacts of pond ecology, and develop new cultivation methods that utilize this information to achieve greater algal productivity.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, New Mexico): Working with Sapphire Energy at its Las Cruces, New Mexico, field site, Los Alamos National Laboratory will evaluate rationally designed pond cultures containing multiple species of algae, as well as beneficial bacteria, to achieve consistent biomass composition and high productivity. This project will help the algal research and development community better understand these metrics at commercial scales.

On September 8, 2017, DOE announced the selection of four additional projects from the Productivity Enhanced Algae and ToolKits funding opportunity to receive up to $8.8 million. 

  • Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colorado): The Colorado School of Mines, in partnership with Global Algae Innovations, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Colorado State University, will improve the productivity of robust wild algal strains using advanced directed evolution approaches in combination with high-performance, custom-built, solar simulation bioreactors.
  • University of California, San Diego (San Diego, California): The University of California, San Diego, will develop genetic tools, high-throughput screening methods, and breeding strategies for green algae and cyanobacteria, targeting robust production strains. The team will work with three key industrial partners: Triton Health and Nutrition, Algenesis Materials, and Global Algae Innovations.
  • University of Toledo (Toledo, Ohio): The University of Toledo, in partnership with Montana State University and the University of North Carolina, will cultivate microalgae in high-salinity and high-alkalinity media to achieve productivities without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide. The team will also deliver molecular toolkits, including metabolic modeling combined with targeted genome editing.
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, California): Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will ecologically engineer algae to encourage growth of bacteria that efficiently remineralize dissolved organic matter to improve carbon dioxide uptake and simultaneously remove excess oxygen.

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2016

Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima)

On December 29, 2016, the Energy Department (DOE) announced up to $7 million for eight universities to accelerate the introduction of affordable, scalable, and sustainable high-performance fuels for use in high-efficiency, low-emission engines. Under the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co-Optima) initiative, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office are collaborating to maximize energy savings and on-road vehicle performance, while dramatically reducing transportation-related petroleum consumption and harmful emissions. 

DOE selected eight universities under the Co-Optima funding opportunity:

  • Cornell University (Ithaca, New York): Cornell University, in partnership with the University of California, San Diego, will examine the combustion characteristics of several diesel/biofuel blends. This will provide the information needed to understand how these blends burn compared to traditional petroleum-based fuels to help design cleaner, more efficient combustion engines.
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan): The University of Michigan will develop an engine combustion model using software that is capable of simulating a range of different parameters that could occur in a combustion chamber, such as combustion duration, flame speed, and pressure development. The system will be designed to maximize ease of use, reliability and accuracy, as well as to reduce the expense of a full engine cycle simulation by 80% relative to the current state of the art. The data gained from the model can help maximize alternative fuel performance and will be used to guide engine manufacturers.
  • University of Michigan-Dearborn (Dearborn, Michigan): The University of Michigan-Dearborn, with partner Oakland University, will use a miniature ignition screening rapid compression machine—an experimental apparatus used to study ignition properties—to gain a better understanding of the ignition and combustion characteristics (e.g., ignition delay) of alternative fuels. This novel method streamlines the evaluation of auto-ignition performance without the need for more extensive and costly engine testing.
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama): The University of Alabama will examine the combustion properties of biofuels and blends using advanced diagnostic techniques under realistic advanced compression ignition (ACI) engine conditions. ACI engines can deliver both high efficiencies and low emissions. The goal is to create a model to predict combustion properties of various fuel blends to help optimize its use in ACI engines.
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana): Louisiana State University, along with partners Texas A&M and University of Connecticut, will develop a method that efficiently characterizes alternative fuel candidates along with associated models and metrics for predicted engine performance. 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts): Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in partnership with University of Central Florida, will develop detailed kinetic models for several biofuels using an advanced computational approach. The project will construct computer models to predict the combustion chemistry of proposed biofuels, which can then be used to determine which of the proposed fuels will have high performance in advanced engines.
  • Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut): Yale University, along with the Pennsylvania State University, will measure sooting tendencies of various biofuels and develop emission indices relevant to real engines. This will enable the selection of biomass-derived fuels that minimize soot emissions in next generation engines.
  • University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida): The University of Central Florida will generate fuel characterization data by measuring and evaluating important performance metrics like fuel spray atomization, flame topology, volatility, viscosity, soot/coking, and compatibility for prioritized fuels. The research will characterize and predict combustion properties of biomass‐based, low-emission fuels and blends in engine‐relevant conditions.

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Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower

On December 28, 2016, the Energy Department (DOE) announced the selection of six projects for up to $12.9 million in federal funding, entitled, “Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower.” These projects, required to share the cost at a minimum of 50%, will develop and execute plans for the manufacturing of advanced or cellulosic biofuels, bioproducts, refinery-compatible intermediates, and/or biopower in a domestic pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery.

The six Phase 1 projects will utilize thermochemical, biochemical, algal, and hybrid conversion technologies to generate the data required to enable future commercial-scale facilities.

  • AVAPCO, LLC (Atlanta, Georgia): The AVAPCO, LLC ($3.7 million) project will develop a demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery that combines AVAPCO’s biomass-to-ethanol process with project partner Byogy’s alcohol-to-jet process to create an integrated process that produces jet fuel from woody biomass. In addition to the jet fuel primary product, the demonstration facility will also produce cellulosic renewable diesel and other bioproducts with another project partner, Genomatica. 
  • LanzaTech, Inc. (Skokie, Illinois): LanzaTech, Inc. ($4 million) has brought together a large team to design, construct, and operate an integrated demonstration-scale biorefinery that will use industrial waste gases to produce 3 million gallons per year of low-carbon jet and diesel fuels. LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have already successfully demonstrated their renewable jet fuel production technology.
  • Global Algae Innovations (San Diego, California): Global Algae Innovations ($1.2 million) has developed novel technologies that improve several stages of the algae production process. This project seeks to design a pilot-scale algae biofuel facility with improved productivity of open pond cultivation and more energy-efficient algae harvest. 
  • ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. (Baltimore, Maryland): ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. ($0.8 million) will work in collaboration with project partners to design a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery to produce transportation fuels from woody waste and agricultural feedstocks. The project proposes many improvements throughout the system, which in combination would allow for smaller, more cost-effective integrated biorefineries with increased liquid fuel yield. 
  • Rialto Bioenergy, LLC (Carlsbad, California): Rialto Bioenergy LLC ($2 million) plans to design the Rialto Advanced Pyrolysis Integrated Biorefinery facility that will have the capacity to convert 300 tons per day of biomass such as food extracted from municipal solid waste and wastewater treatment plant biosolids into a high-nutrient fertilizer and up to 6.4 megawatts of carbon-negative, renewable biopower. 
  • Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (Alexandria, Virginia): Water Environment & Reuse Foundation ($1.2 million) will design a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery that utilizes wastewater treatment plant sludge. This project will convert residual sludge and solids into biocrude oil, biogas, and fertilizer. The biocrude oil, when upgraded, is comparable to fossil-derived crude and can produce a variety of fuels including gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel with nearly zero net carbon emissions. The biogas produced by the system will be used to offset power needs elsewhere in the plant or will be sold to the grid.

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MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels

On August 2, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $11.3 million for three projects that support the development of biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can produce variable amounts of fuels and/or products based on external factors, such as market demand. Producing high-value bioproducts alongside cost-competitive biofuels has the potential to support a positive return on investment for a biorefinery. This funding will develop new strategies for biorefineries to diversify revenue streams, including chemicals and products manufacturing, resulting in long-term economic benefits to the United States.

DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office has selected three projects for funding under MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels.

  • The Dow Chemical Company (Midland, Michigan)—The Dow Chemical Company, in partnership with LanzaTech and Northwestern University, will develop a process for the bioconversion of biomass-derived synthetic gas (syngas) to fatty alcohols as a pathway to biofuels. The fermentation of bio-syngas and the production of intermediate fatty alcohols offer a unique opportunity to leverage the robust chemical markets and high-margin applications of fatty alcohols and their derivatives.
  • Amyris, Inc. (Emeryville, California)—Amyris, Inc., in cooperation with Renmatix and Total New Energies, will develop a manufacturing-ready process to produce farnesene, a hydrocarbon building block used in the manufacture of a variety of consumer products ranging from cosmetics to detergents, as well as in the transportation industry for diesel and jet fuel. They plan to produce farnesene from cellulosic sugar at the same projected cost of current farnesene manufacturing using cane syrup. The project will accomplish its goal by engineering multiple new capabilities into its current farnesene manufacturing strain, and at the end of the project, Renmatix expects to develop a process to deliver cost-competitive sugars to produce farnesene.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina)—Research Triangle Institute will partner with Arkema and AECOM to investigate the technical feasibility and economic potential, as well as the environmental and sustainability benefits, of recovering mixed methoxyphenols from biocrude as building block chemicals alongside the production of biofuels. These methoxyphenols can be used in the production of pharmaceuticals, food flavorings, and perfume products. Achieving technical success in recovering high-value methoxyphenols prior to upgrading to biofuels could provide a significant source of revenue to improve overall process economics and help meet the modeled $3/gasoline gallon equivalent production-cost target for advanced biofuels technologies by 2022.

On August 2, 2017, DOE announced that it will award a fourth project—up to $1.8 million—under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels Funding Opportunity.

  • Michigan State University—Michigan State University will work in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MBI International to optimize a two-stage process for deconstruction of biomass into two clean intermediate streams: sugars for the production of hydrocarbon fuels and lignins for the production of multiple value-added chemicals. Lignin can be utilized as a renewable source for creating valuable aromatic chemicals, which have various industrial applications and can be used as the building blocks for fragrances, flavors, and novel bio-based foams and adhesives. The project will work to overcome several existing challenges, such as lignin's low susceptibility to depolymerization, to help capture its full potential as an economically viable feedstock for renewable chemicals.

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Advancements in Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2)

On July 14, 2016, the Energy Department announced up to $15 million for three projects aimed at reducing the production costs of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts through improvements in algal biomass yields. These projects will develop highly productive algal cultivation systems and couple those systems with effective, energy-efficient, and low-cost harvest and processing technologies. This funding will advance the research and development of advanced biofuel technologies to speed the commercialization of renewable, domestically produced, and affordable fossil-fuel replacements.

The following projects were selected:

  • Global Algae Innovations (San Diego, California)—Global Algae Innovations Inc., in collaboration with the University of California-San Diego, TSD Management Associates, Texas A&M University, General Electric, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will accelerate the commercialization of algal biofuels through development of an integrated, photosynthetic, open raceway pond system to produce algal oil. Their approach is to combine best-in-class cultivation and pre-processing technologies with some of the world's leading strain development laboratories.
  • Algenol Biotech LLC (Ft. Myers, Florida)—Algenol Biotech LLC, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Reliance Industries Limited have formed a team to advance the state-of-the-art in algal production and biofuel processing with the end goal of a sustainable, economically viable biofuel intermediate through enhanced productivity of cyanobacteria, the conversion of the biomass to a biofuel intermediate, and the cost-sensitive operation of a photo-bioreactor system. 
  • MicroBio Engineering, Inc. (San Luis Obispo, California)—MicroBio Engineering, Inc., in partnership with Cal Poly University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Heliae will deliver integrated technologies that achieve high yields of biofuels, combined with treatment of wastewater, higher value co-products, and carbon-dioxide mitigation.

On September 26, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of one additional project, for up to $3.5 million, as part of the  Advanced Algal Systems Program funding opportunity announcement.

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Rewiring Algal Carbon Energetics for Renewables (RACER)”—This national laboratory team also includes members from Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, Arizona State University, POS Bio-Sciences, and Sapphire Energy. The team’s goal is to more than double the productivity of biofuel precursors from algae by making improvements at many stages of the project. These improvements include increasing algal cultivation productivity, optimizing biomass composition, and extracting and separating different types of algal lipids to reduce the cost for lipid upgrading to renewable diesel. The team has chosen one highly promising algal species, and they will focus on fundamental cell carbon bioenergetics to most efficiently channel the carbon dioxide taken in from the atmosphere into useful intermediate products. 

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2015

Bioenergy Technologies Incubator 2

On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $10 million in funding for six projects representing innovative technologies and solutions to advance bioenergy development. These projects, located in Arizona, California, North Carolina, Delaware, and Illinois, will support the Bioenergy Technologies Office's (BETO) work to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from non-food biomass feedstocks by reducing the technical risk associated with potentially breakthrough approaches and technologies for investors. This funding will also support the development of a more robust bioeconomy, which can create green jobs, spur innovation, improve the environment, and achieve national energy security. 

The following projects were selected:

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona—This project will engineer cyanobacteria for the production of ethyl laurate, which is easily converted to "drop-in" ready (i.e., compatible with existing infrastructure) biofuels or bioproducts. This uses carbon dioxide (CO2), water, and light as the main inputs, and does not waste carbon and energy by limiting the amount of biomass produced. 
  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona—This project will develop mixotrophic algae which can consume both CO2 and cellulosic sugars, and significantly improve algal biomass growth. These heat-tolerant strains will be grown in in photobioreactors, potentially reducing evaporation and eliminating the need for cooling. 
  • Duke University, Durham, North Carolina—This project will enable a dramatic reduction in costs for commercial-scale biorefineries through "dynamic metabolic control." Using the patent-pending Synthetic Metabolic Valve technology to demonstrate process intensification technology, which allows smaller reactors to be much more productive, the team will develop this process for the production of a fuel precursor. More importantly, this technology could be applied to many other bioprocesses to produce biochemicals and biofuels. 
  • Lygos Inc., Emeryville, California—This project will develop microbial catalysts to convert renewable cellulosic sugars into higher-value commodity and specialty chemicals. The project will then develop an integrated process from cellulosic glucose through fermentative production of a high-value chemical, aspartic acid, which has several end uses including bio-degradable polymers, fertilizers, and even cosmetics, and can be produced at high efficiencies and rates, driving production costs down.
  • White Dog Labs, New Castle, Delaware—This project will develop new metabolic pathways in microorganisms so that they can concurrently consume a cellulosic sugar feedstock and CO2, thus limiting the amount of CO2 released from the process. 
  • LanzaTech Inc., Skokie, Illinois— This project will work on technology to enable manufacturing of the high-value industrial chemical building block, acetone, via biomass-derived syngas. 

Biomass Research and Development Initiative

On May 9, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded up to $10 million in funding, available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). With up to $3 million in available funding, DOE has selected two projects from Ohio State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that will receive between $1 million to $2 million. The USDA is funding five projects for a total of $7.3 million, and selections include the University of California-Riverside, the University of Montana, Missoula, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the State University of New York, and Dartmouth College. Read more about USDA’s selections in the USDA announcement.

The two DOE projects will focus on the development of diverse cost-effective technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels, bioenergy, as well as a range of biobased products (including chemicals, animal feeds, and power) that potentially can increase the economic feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery.

The DOE selections are:

  • The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus, OH–The OSU project is titled “Biomass Gasification for Chemicals Production Using Chemical Looping Techniques.” OSU proposes to develop the biomass to syngas (BTS) chemical looping process for efficient production of value-added chemicals and liquid fuels from biomass. This BTS process is expected to deliver high quality syngas from biomass in a single step, with a potential to reduce capital costs for syngas production by 44% compared to conventional processes.  
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA–The MIT project is titled “Improving Tolerance of Yeast to Lignocellulose-derived Feedstocks and Products.”  The primary goal of this research is to enhance production of cellulosic ethanol by improving tolerance towards three common inhibitors during cellulosic ethanol production. This same tolerance mechanism is expected to also enhance production of products beyond ethanol, such as monoethylene glycol, an important precursor material used in the production of bottling, fabrics, and anti-freeze.  

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2014

Landscape Design for Sustainable Bioenergy Systems

On August 21, 2015, the Energy Department announced a project that will receive up to $9 million for the design of sustainable bioenergy systems that maintain or enhance the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of cellulosic bioenergy through the improvement of feedstock production, logistics systems, and technology development. This funding supports the Department's efforts to promote the commercialization of environmentally sustainable advanced bioenergy that reduces carbon emissions and enhances national security. 

The project will involve landowners and multi-disciplinary stakeholders in the landscape design process, establish field research to quantify and improve sustainability metrics, and assess logistics systems needed to provide high quality cellulosic feedstocks to conversion facilities for bioenergy.

  • Antares Group, Inc. (Lanham, Maryland)—The Antares Group, Inc. will receive up to $9 million to enable more stable and diverse future feedstock supplies (corn stover, switchgrass, and other warm season grasses) for three cellulosic biorefineries in Iowa and Kansas, while increasing both profitability and ecological benefits in those areas. The project will incorporate a broad range of conservation practices, develop and validate advanced landscape management tools, and collect data on key sustainability indicators and feedstock logistics performance.

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Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts (TABB)

On July 9, 2015, the Energy Department announced six projects that will receive up to $18 million in funding to reduce the modeled price of algae-based biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. This funding supports the development of a bioeconomy that can help create green jobs, spur innovation, improve the environment, and achieve national energy security.

Algal biomass can be converted to advanced biofuels that offer promising alternatives to petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels.  Additionally, algae can be used to make a range of other valuable bioproducts, such as industrial chemicals, bio-based polymers, and proteins. However, barriers related to algae cultivation, harvesting, and conversion to fuels and products need to be overcome to achieve the Department’s target of $3 per gge for advanced algal biofuels by 2030. To accomplish this goal, the Department is investing in applied research and development technologies that can achieve higher yields of targeted bioproducts and biofuels from algae—increasing the overall value for algae biomass.

The projects selected include: 

  • Producing Algae and Co-Products for Energy (PACE), Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colorado) – Colorado School of Mines, in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Reliance Industries Ltd., and others, will receive up to $9 million to enhance overall algal biofuels sustainability by maximizing carbon dioxide, nutrient, and water recovery and recycling, as well as bio-power co-generation.
  • Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC), Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) – Duke University will receive up to $5.2 million to lead a consortium including University of Hawaii, Cornell University, Cellana and others to produce protein-based human and poultry nutritional products along with hydrotreated algal oil extract.
  • Global Algae Innovations, Inc. (El Cajon, California) – Global Algae Innovations will receive up to $1 million to increase algal biomass yield by deploying an innovative system to absorb carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a nearby power plant.   
  • Arizona State University (Mesa, Arizona) – Arizona State University will receive up to $1 million for atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, enrichment, and delivery to increase biomass productivity.
  • University of California, San Diego (San Diego, California) – The University of California, San Diego will receive up to $760,000 to develop an automated  early detection system that can identify and characterize infestation or infection of an algae production pond in order to ensure crop health. 
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, California) – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will receive up to $1 million to protect algal crops by developing “probiotic” bacteria to combat pond infestationand increase ecosystem functioning and resilience.

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Innovative Bioenergy Technologies

On February 20, 2015, The Energy Department announced the selection of seven projects across the country to receive up to $10 million to support innovative technologies and solutions to help advance bioenergy development. These projects will support BETO’s work to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from non-food biomass feedstocks by reducing the risk associated with potentially breakthrough approaches and technologies.

  • Metabolix, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts), in collaboration with North Carolina State University, will receive up to $2 million to develop a non-genetically modified, non-food feedstock, Camelina sativa, with significantly increased seed yield and oil content to maximize oil yields per acre, thereby enabling the widespread use of a currently underutilized non-food feedstock.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington), in collaboration with MicroBio Engineering Inc., will receive up to $900,000 to develop a process to produce microalgae directly from CO2 in air at high productivities, thereby decoupling algal growth from CO2 sources.
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio), in collaboration with the University of Alabama and Green Biologics, Inc., will receive up to $1.2 million to develop a cellulosic butanol production process with high productivities, yields, and carbon conversion through novel metabolic engineering of two different pathways.
  • The University of California, Riverside (Riverside, California), in collaboration with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and CogniTek, will receive up to $1 million to further develop a co-solvent pretreatment for high yields of clean fuel precursor fractions that can significantly improve downstream chemical catalytic upgrading to final biofuel additives.
  • OPX Biotechnologies (Boulder, Colorado) will receive up to $2 million to develop the production of cost-competitive C8 fatty acid derivatives (which can readily be converted to high-performance lubricants and synthetic oils) from cellulosic sugars via novel metabolic engineering pathways.
  • Kiverdi Inc. (Berkeley, California), in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will receive up to $2 million to further develop processes and genetic tools to produce hydrocarbons in previously unengineered bacteria that directly utilize biomass-derived syngas for growth.
  • The Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Illinois), in collaboration with W.R. Grace and Company and Michigan Technological University, will receive up to $1.4 million to develop a process to catalytically convert biomass and methane into hydrocarbon liquid fuels and chemicals at high yields, while simultaneously decreasing hydrogen consumption.

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Biological and Chemical Upgrading for Advanced Biofuels and Products

On October 9, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $13.4 million for five projects to develop advanced biofuels and bioproducts that will help drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from biomass. These products not only will help reduce carbon emissions, but also advance the department's work to enable the production of clean, renewable, and cost-competitive drop-in biofuel at $3 per gallon by 2022. The research and development projects, located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Colorado and Georgia, will focus on developing integrated processes for the production of advanced biofuels and chemicals. Two of these selections will address research efforts on the efficient conversion of biogas (a mixture of gases generated from the biological breakdown of organic material) to valuable products other than power.

  • The University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin) will receive up to $3.3 million to develop a process to produce high-value chemicals from biomass, which can be used as plasticizers (an additive in certain plastics) and in the production of industrial chemicals and resins.
  • American Process, Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) will receive up to $3.1 million to develop and demonstrate processes to upgrade cellulosic sugars to solvents in their demonstration facility.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado) will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a conversion process demonstrating the production of muconic acid from biogas. This acid can be converted into an array of bioproducts, including fuel, plasticizers, and lubricants.
  • Natureworks, LLC (Minnetonka, Minnesota) will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a fermentation process, using biogas and bacteria, for the production of lactic acid. This process could be used for the commercialization of biomethane to fuels.
  • Vertimass LLC (Irvine, California) will receive up to $2 million to commercialize technology to convert ethanol into diesel fuel, gasoline, and jet fuel blend stocks compatible with the current transportation fuel infrastructure.

On August 27, 2015, the Energy Department announced two additional projects selected to receive up to $4 million to develop next-generation biofuels that will help reduce the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels from biomass. These projects—in addition to five projects previously selected in October 2014 under the same funding opportunity—total a $17.3 million investment by the Department to develop technologies that will enable the production of clean, renewable, and cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon of gasoline equivalent by 2022. Advancing and commercializing cost-competitive biofuels will help the Department work toward its goal of reducing current petroleum consumption in the United States and, in turn, enhance U.S. national security and reduce carbon emissions.These competitively selected research and development projects, located in Texas and Ohio, will focus on lowering biofuel production costs by converting lignin to valuable products other than heat and power.

  • Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a single-unit process to convert lignin for increased utilization in the production of bioplastics.
  • Ohio University (Athens, Ohio) will receive up to $1.5 million to develop a continuous flow electrochemical reactor that upgrades biorefinery waste lignin to bio-based phenol substitutes with cogeneration of hydrogen.

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Renewable Carbon Fiber

On July 30, 2014, two projects, located in Alabama and Colorado, were selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive up to $11.3 million to advance the production of cost-competitive, high-performance carbon fiber material from renewable, non-food-based feedstocks, such as agricultural residues and woody biomass. Carbon fiber—a strong, lightweight material that can replace steel and other heavier metals—can lower the cost and improve performance of fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy components such as wind turbine blades. The two projects seek to demonstrate new biomass conversion technologies that enable the manufacturing of acrylonitrile—an essential feedstock for high-performance carbon fiber—for less than $1 per pound.

  • Southern Research Institute (Birmingham, Alabama) will receive up to $5.9 million to innovate on a multi-step catalytic process for conversion of sugars from non-food biomass to acrylonitrile.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colorado) will receive up to $5.3 million to investigate and optimize multiple pathways to bio-acrylonitrile.

This funding supports the DOE’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, a crosscutting effort to ensure U.S. manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace.

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2013

Advancement of Algal Biomass Yield

On August 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of four projects for negotiation for the Advancement of Algal Biofuel Yield FOA:

  • Hawai’i BioEnergy, LLC (Honolulu, Hawaii) was selected to receive up to $5 million to develop a cost-effective photosynthetic open pond system to produce algal oil and demonstrate preprocessing technologies that reduce energy use and the cost of extracting lipids and producing intermediates.
  • Sapphire Energy (San Diego, California) was selected to receive up to $5 million to develop a new process to produce algae-based fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The project will also work on improving algae strains and increasing yield through cultivation improvements.
  • New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, New Mexico) was selected to receive up to $5 million to increase the yield of a microalgae, while developing harvesting and cultivation processes that lower costs and support year-round production.
  • California Polytechnic State University (Delhi, California) was selected to receive up to $1.5 million to conduct research and development work to increase the productivity of algae strains and compare two separate processing technologies.

The alternate awardee was announced in 2014:

  • Cellana, LLC (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii) was selected to receive $3.5 million to develop a fully integrated, high-yield algae feedstock production system by integrating the most advanced strain improvement, cultivation, and processing technologies into their operations at their Kona Demonstration Facility.

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Carbon, Hydrogen and Separation Efficiencies (CHASE) in Bio-Oil Pathways

On July 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of four projects for negotiation under the CHASE Bio-Oil FOA. The projects are:

  • Ceramatec (Salt Lake City, Utah) was selected to receive up to $3.3 million to develop cost-effective technology to separate oxygen from bio-oil. This project will help produce hydrocarbon products suitable for further processing in conventional petroleum refineries.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) was selected to receive up to $2.1 million to efficiently remove the hydrogen from the water found in bio-oil in order to reduce the corrosivity of bio-oil and improve the conversion of hydrogen and biomass to biofuels.
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman, Oklahoma) was selected to receive up to $4 million to investigate two processes to maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be extracted from biomass and converted to a refinery-compatible intermediate and suitable for final upgrading to a transportation fuel.
  • Virent, Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) was selected to receive up to $4 million to develop an innovative separation process which uses its BioForming® technology to efficiently convert carbon from lignocellulosic biomass into hydrocarbon fuels. Idaho National Laboratory will also bring their feedstock pre-processing capabilities to the project.

The alternate awardee was announced in 2014.

  • SRI International (Menlo Park, California) will receive $3.2 million to produce a bio-crude oil from algal biomass that will maximize the amount of renewable carbon recovered for use in fuel and reduce the nitrogen content of the product in order to meet fuel quality standards.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) will receive $3.1 million to maximize the biomass carbon and energy recovery in a low pressure process, therefore lowering production costs, to produce a bio-crude oil that can be efficiently upgraded into a finished biofuel.

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Advanced Biomass Feedstocks Logistics Systems II

On July 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a funding award for FDC Enterprises to reduce harvesting, handling and preprocessing costs across the entire biomass feedstock supply chain.

  • The FDC Enterprises (Columbus, Ohio) project was selected to receive up to $5.7 million to work with independent growers and biofuels companies in Iowa, Kansas, Virginia and Tennessee – including POET, ADM, Clariant International and Pellet Technology USA – to develop new field equipment, biorefinery conveyor designs and improved preprocessing technologies. The project will also develop and deploy feedstock quality-monitoring tools to reduce sampling and analysis costs, and conduct real-time analysis of feedstock characteristics such as moisture content and particle size.

The alternate awardees were announced in 2014.

  • The State University of New York—College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, New York) was selected to receive up to $3.5 million to lower the delivered cost of short rotation woody crops; rapidly, accurately, and reliably assess feedstock quality; and improve harvest and preprocessing operations to produce feedstocks that meet key biorefinery partner specifications.
  • The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee) was selected to receive up to $3.5 million to study how blending feedstocks could play a role in increasing the amount of available feedstock within a given delivery radius. The project will develop and demonstrate a state-of-the-art biomass processing depot to reduce sources of variation along the supply chain of multiple, high-impact biomass sources (pine and switchgrass) and deliver a consistent feedstock optimized for performance.

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Defense Production Act

On September 19, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Navy, announced funding awards for three commercial-scale biorefinery projects that will help meet the transportation needs of the U.S. military and private sector.

Together these three projects will produce more than 100 million gallons of military-grade biofuel annually beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts. This fuel can be blended up to 50% with traditional fuels and emits less than half the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than their petroleum counterparts.

The following companies are receiving federal investments for the construction and commissioning of biorefineries:

  • Emerald Biofuels (Chicago, Illinois): To build and operate an 82 million gallon per year refinery on the Gulf Coast to hydro-treat and upgrade waste fats, oils, and greases to create military-grade jet fuel and diesel.
  • Fulcrum BioEnergy (Pleasanton, California): To build and operate a refinery in McCarran, Nevada, to convert municipal solid waste, using gasification and Fischer-Tröpsch conversion technology, into more than 10 million gallons of renewable jet and diesel fuel a year.
  • Red Rock Biofuels (Fort Collins, Colorado): To build and operate a 12 million gallon per year refinery in Lakeview, Oregon, using gasification and Fischer-Tröpsch conversion technology to turn forest biomass and wood wastes into renewable fuels for the military.

The Energy Department is committed to supporting the advanced energy technologies needed to produce renewable biofuels capable of meeting military specifications.

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2012

Innovative Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Production of Advanced Biofuels

On April 22, 2013, the Energy Department announced nearly $18 million in four innovative pilot-scale biorefineries in California, Iowa and Washington that will test renewable biofuels as a domestic alternative to power our cars, trucks, and planes that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel.

  • Frontline Bioenergy LLC (Ames, Iowa) will receive up to $4.2 million. Building on prior commercial-scale gasification success, Frontline BioEnergy, along with its project partners SGC Energia, Stanley Consultants, and Delphi Engineering and Construction LLC, will build and integrate an innovative new pilot scale TarFreeGas™ reactor and new gas conditioning processes with an existing Fischer Tropsch (FT) unit capable of producing 1 barrel per day of FT liquids from woody biomass, municipal solid waste and refuse derived fuel at the Iowa Energy Center’s Biomass Energy Conversion Facility in Nevada, Iowa. These liquids will be upgraded to produce samples of biofuels that meet military specifications.
  • Cobalt Technologies (Mountain View, California) will receive up to $2.5 million to operate a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery to convert switchgrass to bio-jet fuel. Together with its partners, including the Naval Air Warfare China Lake Weapons Division, Show Me Energy Cooperative, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Cobalt intends to build a pilot-scale facility to purify and convert butanol to jet fuel. Cobalt will operate the integrated pilot-scale biorefinery to evaluate scalability of the process and assess the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Mercurius Biorefining, Inc. (Ferndale, Washington) will receive up to $4.6 million to build and operate a pilot plant that uses an innovative process that converts the cellulosic biomass into non-sugar intermediates, which are further processed into drop-in bio-jet fuel and chemicals. Several organizations are participating in this consortium led by Mercurius Biorefining, including Purdue University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Incitor.
  • BioProcess Algae (Shenandoah, Iowa) will receive up to $6.4 million to evaluate an innovative algal growth platform that will produce hydrocarbon fuels meeting military specifications using renewable carbon dioxide, lignocellulosic sugars, and waste heat. The proposed biorefinery will integrate low-cost autotrophic algal production, accelerated lipid production, and lipid conversion. While the primary product from the proposed biorefinery will be military fuels, the facility will also co-produce additional products, including other hydrocarbons, glycerine, and animal feed.

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Innovative Biosynthetic Pathways to Advanced Biofuels

On January 3, 2013 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $10 million award for research and development in projects that use innovative synthetic biological and chemical techniques to convert biomass into processable sugars that can be transformed into bioproducts and drop-in biofuels for cars, trucks, and planes. DOE selected five projects for negotiation of award:

  • J. Craig Venter Institute (Rockville, Maryland) will receive up to $1.2 million to develop new technologies to produce enzymes that more efficiently deconstruct biomass to make biofuel.
  • Novozymes (Davis, California) will receive up to $2.5 million to expand their existing capabilities to find new sources of enzymes that can be targeted to deliver more cost-effective solutions for deconstructing biomass into processable components.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington) will receive up to $2.4 million to increase the production of fuel molecules in fungi growing on lignocellulosic hydrolysate.
  • Texas AgriLife Research (College Station, Texas) will receive up to $2.4 million to develop a novel and integrated platform for converting lignin, a component of all lignocellulosic material, into biofuel precursors.
  • Lygos (Berkley, California) will receive up to $1.8 million to develop efficient, inexpensive methods and tools to convert biomass into common and specialty chemicals.

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Research, Development, and Tools for Clean Biomass Cookstoves

On October 18, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced award of $2.5 million over three years to support projects that focus on biomass cookstoves. A key factor in DOE's decision-making process was research and development (R&D) that improves the combustion efficiency of stoves that use biomass fuel, as well as our understanding of combustion physics to enable more efficient cookstove designs for the future. Designs were selected based on their ability to enable users to burn wood or crop residue more efficiently and with less smoke than traditional stoves or open fires; this improves indoor air quality, reduces carbon emissions, and delivers key economic and health benefits to developing nations. The following projects were selected to perform R&D for products with auxiliary devices:

  • BioLite, LLC (Brooklyn, New York) will develop an affordable thermoelectric generator and fan that will be integrated into a variety of stoves. To learn more, visit the BioLite website.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) will develop a thermoelectric add-on device to enhance the cooking performance of existing biomass stoves. To learn more, visit the Research Triangle Institute Energy Research website.
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins Colorado) was also selected to receive a grant to research combustion and heat transfer. The project will characterize the complex process of solid biomass combustion and heat transfer in order to develop a model to assist development projects in designing stoves. To learn more, visit the Colorado State University Biomass Energy Resources website.

Pending additional funding for fiscal year 2013, two more projects will be awarded under this funding opportunity.

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Bio-Oil Stabilization and Commoditization

On August 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced award of $11 million to support projects that produce stable bio-oils from lignocellulosic and algal biomass sources. The target goal is to create bio-oils capable of blending within existing petroleum refineries to produce drop-in fuel with a renewable edge. DOE sought applicants in two categories: research and development (R&D) to establish proof of concept bio-oil production systems that engage a refinery partner; and technology providers with an R&D plan and initial refinery partner to validate the process on a larger scale. Applicants in the second category will have existing petroleum refinery partners and more advanced technology. The following projects were selected in the first category:

The following projects were selected as recipients in the second category based on their existing partnerships with traditional petroleum refineries:

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington) will partner with W.R. Grace to work on the use of fast pyrolysis oil to produce gasoline-range and diesel-range hydrocarbon fuels. To learn more, visit the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory website.
  • Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Illinois) will work with the Valero petroleum refinery to create hydropyrolysis oil from biomass that can then be converted to a hydrocarbon fuel. To learn more, visit the Gas Technology Institute website.

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Biomass Advancements in Sustainable Algal Production

On August 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced awards of $14 million in grants to support algal research and development. DOE already supports more than 30 algae-based biofuels projects, representing $85 million in investments. Part of this investment in biofuels focuses on unlocking the potential for homegrown transportation fuels from algae, which could potentially replace up to 17% of the United States' imported oil. The following four projects were selected based on their focus on algal production systems and development of algal testbed facilities:

These projects will support DOE's goal of having more than 1 billion gallons of cost-competitive algal biofuels by 2022. This particular award is the first phase of an intended $30 million investment in algal biofuels for 2012.

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2011

Drop-In Biofuels and Bioproducts

On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $36 million in grants to support six small-scale projects in California, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin that will advance the technology improvements and process integration needed to produce drop-in, advanced biofuels and other biobased chemicals. Drop-in fuel refers to a substitute that is completely interchangeable and compatible with conventional fossil fuel and does not require adaptation of the engine, fuel system, or fuel distribution network. Drop-ins can also be used in pure form, or they can be blended in any quantity with existing fuels. The following projects were selected for award:

  • General Atomics (San Diego, California) aims to improve the production of algal oils as drop-in fuels. To learn more, visit the General Atomics General Atomics Energy website.
  • Genomatica, Inc. (San Diego, California) will engineer an organism for optimized fermentation of cellulosic sugars. To learn more, visit the Genomatica, Inc. Technology website.
  • Michigan Biotechnology Institute (Lansing, Michigan) will focus on the pretreatment process to stabilize conversion-ready intermediates. To learn more, visit the Michigan Biotechnology Institute's website.
  • HCL CleanTech, Inc., now Virdia (Oxford, North Carolina), will focus on improving the process for pretreatment and conversion of biomass feedstocks. To learn more, visit the Virdia website.
  • Texas Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, Texas) will develop a pretreatment for cellulosic biomass feedstocks that will enable conversion to hydrocarbons. To learn more, visit the Texas Engineering Experiment Station Energy and the Environment website.
  • Virent Energy Systems, Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) will develop a fully integrated process for converting cellulosic biomass feedstock to a mix of hydrocarbons targeted for use as jet fuel. To learn more, visit the Virent Energy Systems, Inc. website.

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USDA-DOE Joint Grants on Biomass Research and Development for Energy Independence

On May 5, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy announced $47 million in grants to support research and development projects that will reduce the United States' reliance on imported oil. Funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, the advanced biofuels produced through these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to fossil fuels and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. The following projects were selected for award:

  • Cellana, LLC (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii) will work to develop a protein supplement from algae as a by-product of algal biofuels production. To learn more, visit the Cellana, LLC website.
  • Domtar Paper Company, LLC (Fort Mill, South Carolina) will build a demonstration plant using two technologies to convert low-value by-products and waste into sugar, oil, and lignin products. To learn more, visit the Domtar Paper Company, LLC Sustainability website.
  • Exelus, Inc. (Livingston, New Jersey) will work to develop energy crops with an improved tolerance to drought and salt stress. To learn more, visit the Exelus, Inc. website.
  • Metabolix, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts) will enhance the yield of bio-based products, biopower, and fuels made from switchgrass. To learn more, visit the Metabolix, Inc. website.
  • University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida) will improve the production and sustainability of sweet sorghum as an energy crop. To learn more, visit the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website.
  • University of Kansas Center for Research (Lawrence, Kansas) will demonstrate a sustainable technology at a pilot scale that produces advanced fuels and chemical intermediates. To learn more, visit the University of Kansas Center for Research website.
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky) will improve the economics for biorefineries by using on-farm processing to convert biomass and waste. To learn more, visit the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research website.
  • U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (Missoula, Montana) will develop an integrated approach to investigate biomass feedstock production, logistics, conversion, distribution, and end use. For more information, visit the Rocky Mountain Research Station's website.

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Advanced Biofuels Development

On March 30, 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $12 million to support three small-scale projects that will commercialize novel conversion technologies to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in biofuels and other biobased chemicals. The projects will accelerate research and development to lead the way toward clean alternatives to fossil fuels. The following projects were selected for award:

  • LanzaTech (Roselle, Illinois) will develop a cost-effective technology that converts biomass ethanol into jet fuel. To learn more, visit the LanzaTech website.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) will work on an integrated thermochemical process and a hydroprocessing technology to turn biomass into gasoline and diesel. To learn more, visit the Research Triangle Institute Energy Research website.
  • Virent Energy Systems, Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) will work on an integrated process that will convert biomass to intermediates and intermediates into a blending hydrocarbon. To learn more, visit the Virent Energy Systems, Inc. website.

All of these projects will use some form of thermochemical process as the basis of their research and advance drop-in biofuel production, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

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2010

Advanced Biofuels Technology Development and Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production

On September 9, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy announced investment of $16.5 million to support two research and development initiatives surrounding biofuels technology development and sustainable bioenergy feedstock production. Both initiatives will support the expansion of renewable transportation fuels production. The first initiative includes four projects, which will receive a total of $12 million, and will focus on developing technologies for thermochemical conversion of biomass that is compatible with existing infrastructure. Those four projects are as follows:

The bio-oil created by these four projects has shown potential to be compatible with existing petroleum infrastructure, making it an invaluable product for energy efficiency.

The second initiative includes three projects that will design, model, and implement sustainable biomass production systems across the country. By improving production and processing, the biomass resources have the potential to provide a source of liquid transportation fuels and biopower. Those three projects are as follows:

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Algal Biofuels Research Grants

On June 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy announced investment of $24 million to support three research groups in investigating obstacles to commercialization of algae-based biofuels. The consortia's research will support the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. The following consortia were selected for award:

  • Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium (Mesa, Arizona), led by Arizona State University, will test the acceptability of algal biofuels as substitutes for petroleum. For more information, visit the Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium website.
  • Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization (San Diego, California), led by the University of California, San Diego, will concentrate on developing algae as a biofuels feedstock. For more information, visit the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology website.
  • Consortium of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, led by Cellana, LLC, will examine large-scale production of fuels and feed from seawater microalgae. For more information, visit the Cellana, LLC website.

Each consortium includes private and public partners and is expected to continue joint projects for a period of three years.

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Advanced Biofuels Process Development Facility

On March 31, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced award of $18 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to build an advanced biofuels process development facility. The grant will enable the facility to test and integrate innovative technologies that can later be applied to the private commercial scale. The facility is the first of its kind available for public use and will establish an Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit (PDU) that will gather the research and efforts of all DOE laboratories for implementation. The PDU will also allow private sector partners the opportunity to scale-up some of their existing processes to test. The facility, which became fully operational in 2011, will have capabilities for pretreatment of biomass, enzyme production, fermentation, and product purification.

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Invests in Advanced Biofuels Research and Fueling Infrastructure

On January 13, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy announced investment of approximately $80 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds to support two recipients in researching algae-based and other advanced biofuels. The consortia selected for project award include the following:

  • National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts, led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center of Saint Louis, Missouri, will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialization of algal biofuel and bioproducts. To learn more, visit the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium website.
  • National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of Richland, Washington, will conduct research to develop existing infrastructure compatible, biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels. To learn more, visit the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium website.

Collectively, these projects will be matched by private and non-federal cost-share funds of more than $19 million. The critical research performed by the consortia will support the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector. Additional funds within this investment will be directed to expanded fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

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2009

Supply Systems to Handle and Deliver High-Tonnage Biomass Feedstocks

On August 31, 2009, DOE announced up to $21 million made available for the selection of five projects to develop supply systems to handle and deliver high tonnage biomass feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels production. The awards were part of the department's ongoing efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country. The chosen awards were selected as the best projects to stimulate the design and demonstration of a comprehensive system to handle the harvesting, collection, preprocessing, transport, and storage of sufficient volumes of sustainably produced feedstocks. Feedstocks or combinations of feedstocks that were considered include: agricultural residues, energy crops (e.g., switchgrass, miscanthus, energycane, sorghum, poplar, willow), forest resources (e.g., forest thinnings, wood chips, wood wastes, small diameter trees), and urban wood wastes.

Projects selected for negotiation of awards:

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Invests in Integrated Biorefineries

On December 4, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy announced selection of 19 integrated biorefinery (IBR) projects to receive up to $564 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds. The projects span 15 states and were selected to lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of biomass production. The following recipients will produce bioproducts and biofuels at the pilot, demonstration, and full commercial scales:

See the complete list and descriptions of the projects selected for more information about their proposals.

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DOE-USDA Joint Research and Development Grants Awarded

On November 12, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $24 million in a series of joint grants. Of the total sum, DOE will contribute approximately $4.9 million. The 12 awardees all proposed research and development projects in the fields of biofuels and biobased products, biofuels development analysis, and feedstock development. The resulting biofuels are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to fossil fuels. A major selection criterion was a commitment to increasing availability of biobased products made from more diverse, renewable biomass. The following projects were selected for award:

  • GE Global Research (Irvine, California) will perform research in the biofuels and biobased products category to develop detailed and simplified kinetic models of biomass gasification. To learn more, visit the GE Energy Program website.
  • Gevo, Inc. (Englewood, Colorado) will develop a yeast fermentation organism to create isobutanol, a second generation biofuel. To learn more, visit the Gevo website.
  • Itaconix (Hampton Falls, New Hampshire) will develop production methods to create polyitaconic acid using wood biomass. To learn more, visit the Itaconix website.
  • Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corporation (Columbus, Ohio) will demonstrate the operation of a dry fermentation system using food and wood wastes to produce biogas, heat, and electrical power. To learn more, visit the Yenkin-Majestic website.
  • Velocys, Inc. (Plain City, Ohio) will improve biorefinery economics through microchannel hydroprocessing. To learn more, visit the Velocys website.
  • Exelus, Inc. (Livingston, New Jersey) will develop a biomass-to-gasoline technology using engineered catalysts. To learn more, visit the Exelus website.
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) will develop an analysis of the global impacts of second generation biofuels. To learn more, visit the Purdue University Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering website.
  • The University of Minnesota (Saint Paul, Minnesota) will assess the environmental sustainability and capacity of forest-based biofuel feedstocks. To learn more, visit the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment website.
  • Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (located in Washington, Idaho, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee) will compare the life-cycle environmental and economic impacts for collecting biomass for a variety conversion processes. To learn more, visit the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials website.
  • Agrivida (Medford, Massachusetts) will develop new crop traits to eliminate the need for pretreatment equipment and enzymes. To learn more, visit the Agrivida website.
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Oklahoma) will develop the best practices and technologies needed to ensure efficient and sustainable production of cellulosic ethanol feedstocks. To learn more, visit the Oklahoma State University website.
  • The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee) will compare several varieties of switchgrass using various harvesting, management, and conversion practices. To learn more, visit the University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture website.

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2008

Stabilization of Biomass Fast Pyrolysis Oils

On October 7, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $7 million to five advanced biofuels projects to perform research and development that will advance cost-effective, practical technology needed to stabilize biomass fast pyrolysis oils. Pyrolysis oil is derived from cellulosic biomass feedstocks; through a multistep stabilization process, pyrolysis offers the potential of a greenhouse gas neutral, renewable, and domestically produced feedstock for petroleum refineries. The finished product is indistinguishable from current hydrocarbon fuels produced from petroleum feedstocks. Combined with a minimum cost share of 20%, more than $8.75 million will be invested in the following projects:

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Clean Energy Commercialization

On August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will invest $7 million to hasten the process of moving technologies from DOE's national laboratories to the commercial market. The seven laboratories selected for award are at the forefront of renewable energy research:

The funding will support activities such as demonstration projects, market research, and prototype development, as well as encourage private industry partnerships. This process will facilitate the transition of technology from the laboratory to the market.

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DOE-USDA Award Joint Grant for Cellulosic Biofuel Research

On July 31, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $10 million in a joint grant to 10 recipients who were selected based on their goals to accelerate research in biomass genomics and to further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels. Most of the awardees will be investigating ways to improve the performance of switchgrass, a fast-growing perennial grass that can be used to produce cellulosic ethanol. Additional plant material being studied includes sunflowers, poplar, and soybeans. The 10 grant recipients are as follows:

To learn more about each of the projects, visit the DOE-USDA Genomic Science Program Web page.

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DOE-USDA Annual Joint Biomass Grant Given to 21 Recipients

On March 8, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an investment of $18.4 million over three years for more than 20 biomass research and development (R&D) and demonstration projects. A key selection criterion included a commitment to addressing and reducing barriers to efficient and cost-effective bio-based products and biofuel. Of the 21 recipients, 19 were awarded funding for R&D:

The other two recipients were awarded funding for demonstration projects:

All grant recipients are required to raise a minimum of 20% matching funds for R&D projects, or 50% matching funds for demonstration projects. USDA will provide more than $13 million of the total grant, with DOE providing more than $5 million.

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Enzymes Systems for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

On February 27, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its investment of up to $33.8 million over four years in support of four projects that will develop improved enzyme systems to convert cellulosic material into sugars suitable for production of biofuels. These projects aim to address key technical hurdles associated with the mass production of clean, renewable fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol. These four projects seek to more cost-effectively and efficiently break down processed biomass into fermentable sugars, a significant challenge in converting biomass into fuels.

Projects were selected based on their demonstrated ability to reduce the cost of enzymes-per-gallon of ethanol by improving an enzyme's performance. Selected projects must demonstrate the ability to produce enzymes at a commercial scale, and have a sound business strategy to market the enzymes or enzyme production systems in biorefinery operations. Combined with industry cost share, up to $70 million will be invested in these projects, with a minimum 50% cost share from industry. The four projects selected to negotiate awards are as follows:

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Small-Scale Cellulosic Biorefineries

On January 29, 2008, DOE announced it will provide up to $114 million over four years to support the development of small-scale cellulosic biorefineries. The projects will develop biorefineries at 10% of commercial scale that produce liquid transportation fuels as well as biobased chemicals and bioproducts used in industrial applications. Projects selected to negotiate awards will use novel approaches and a variety of cellulosic feedstocks to test new conversion processes. Combined with industry cost share, more than $331 million will be invested in these four projects. Combined with industry cost share, more than $331 million will be invested in these four projects. Two projects were announced July 14, 2008, with DOE cofunding of up to $40 million. An additional three projects were later announced with DOE cofunding of up to $86 million.

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2007

Thermochemical Solicitation

On December 4, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that four cellulosic biofuel projects will receive up to $7.7 million over the next three years. Due to available funding, a fifth project with the Gas Technology Institute was added. The five projects will receive up to $9.7 million in funding. When combined with the industry cost share, more than $17.7 million will be invested in the five projects from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2010. The following five projects were selected for negotiation of awards:

These projects will demonstrate the thermochemical conversion process of turning switchgrass, corn stover, wood, and the non-edible parts of other organic materials into biofuel. The five projects will validate technologies for removing contaminants from biomass-derived synthesis gas to very low levels. After verifying that the proposed cleanup technology can achieve the required low contaminant level, the projects will advance to the second phase where a fuel synthesis train will be coupled to the gas cleanup system. The fuel synthesis train will use catalysts to convert the cleaned synthesis gas to Fischer Tropsch (FT) hydrocarbons and/or mixed alcohols.

Emery Energy Company will demonstrate conversion to both hydrocarbons and mixed alcohols, while the other four projects will only produce FT hydrocarbons. This research promises to validate effective technology to eliminate contaminants generated during biomass gasification to levels necessary to protect the expensive catalysts used for subsequent fuels synthesis from poisoning.

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Bioenergy Research Centers

On October 1, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will award an additional $30 million to three Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs); an initial award of $375 million was granted on June 26, 2007. The BRCs will pursue research on a range of high-risk, high-return biological solutions to use for bioenergy. They will seek a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying biofuel production, leading to redesign and improvement of current techniques to create a more efficient strategy to be used on a mass scale. The three major categories studied by the BRCs are development of next-generation bioenergy crops, discovery and design of enzymes and microbes with biomass-degrading capabilities, and development of transformational microbe-mediated strategies for biofuel production. The three centers selected were:

The additional funding was granted to enable the BRCs to begin research on an accelerated schedule. Partners for the project include a total of seven DOE national laboratories, 18 universities, 1 nonprofit organization, and a range of private companies. A major focus will be on reengineering biological processes to develop more efficient methods for converting cellulosic material, including agricultural residues, grasses, poplar trees, inedible plants, and non-edible portions of crops, into ethanol or other biofuels that serve as a substitute for gasoline. To learn more, visit the DOE Bioenergy Research Centers website.

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Genomics: GTL Bioenergy Research Centers

In June 2007, DOE announced the Office of Science has established three Bioenergy Research Centers intended to accelerate basic research in the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels as part of the Office's Genomics: GTL Program.

More information about the GTL Bioenergy Research Centers can be found on the Office of Science website.

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Cellulosic Ethanol Conversion

On March 27, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will award $23 million over the next four years to five projects focused on developing highly efficient fermentative organisms to convert biomass material into ethanol. Commercialization of fermentative organisms, capable of fermenting both hexose and pentose sugars, is crucial to the success of biochemical-based integrated biorefineries. The criteria used in selecting these projects include the organism's stated capacity to convert lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol; the robustness of the organism in process-relevant conditions; and commercial market economics. Additionally, it was specified that the organism must be able to survive a wide range of environmental and process conditions and remain stable from adverse mutation. The five projects selected for award are as follows:

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Integrated Cellulosic Biorefineries

On February 28, 2007, the Department of Energy (DOE) selected six biorefinery projects to develop commercial-scale integrated biorefineries demonstrating the use of a wide variety of cellulosic feedstocks such as corn fiber, wood wastes, agriculture residues, municipal solid wastes and potential energy crops. The collective goal of these projects is to demonstrate that integrated biorefineries can operate profitably once their construction costs are covered and can be replicated.

Since selection on February 28, two of the projects were withdrawn, leaving four projects to reach award. DOE will invest up to $272 million in the four projects over the next four years. When fully operational, these facilities will be capable of producing more than 98.1 million gallons of ethanol per year.

While the refining process for cellulosic ethanol is more complex than that of corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol yields a somewhat greater net energy benefit and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. Three of the four projects—BlueFire Ethanol, Inc., Poet, and Abengoa Bioenergy—will principally utilize biochemical processes to free the sugars from the biomass and then ferment them into alcohol. Range Fuels plans to use thermochemical processes to gasify the biomass into a "synthesis gas," which will then be further converted into biofuels.

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