The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) continually evaluates new feedstock, conversion, and other advanced developments to incorporate emerging areas that may contribute to Office goals. The production of bioproducts and the utilization of waste streams to generate energy are two areas that have potential to advance BETO goals along the entire supply chain.
An emerging area of research for the BETO portfolio is bioproducts that can enable biofuels production. High-value co-products—like carbon fiber, plastic, rubber, adhesives, and fabrics—made from waste or side-streams in a biorefinery can provide additional revenue while also reducing waste treatment or disposal costs.
Technology developed for bioproduct creation can also enable stand-alone bioproduct processes, and since these rely on many of the same feedstocks, infrastructure, feedstock commoditization, and upstream technologies central to biofuels production, the knowledge gained from producing bioproducts will also reduce biofuel process risks.
Wet waste, solid waste, and gaseous waste streams are potential high-impact resources for the domestic production of biofuels, bioproduct precursors, heat, and electricity. Wastes represent a significant and underutilized set of feedstocks for renewable fuel and product generation. These streams are available now without land-use change, and in many cases, their utilization helps to address the unique and local challenges of disposing them. These resources are unlikely to diminish in volume in the near future, and as a result (in the short and medium term), they represent a potentially low-cost set of feedstocks that could help justify broader investment.