WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced their intent to issue funding to support research and development (R&D) projects for converting algae and other wet waste feedstocks into low-carbon fuels, chemicals, and agricultural products. The intended Mixed Algae Conversion Research Opportunity (MACRO) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) would address gaps in the use of carbon dioxide (CO2), conversion technologies, and product development that limits the use of wet algal feedstocks.

While these feedstocks are an emerging resource, they are underutilized and are difficult to convert due to their variability, unique chemical make-up, and storage instability. Overcoming conversion challenges to working with these feedstocks will help build supply chains, accelerate their demand, and ultimately enable greater volumes of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and the use of CO2 to grow algae in the future.

Seaweeds (also known as macroalgae) are a biomass resource with unique benefits compared to land-based biomass systems. A wide range of feedstocks, such as seaweed, other algae, and other wet waste feedstocks, will be needed to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of an equitable, clean energy future of net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. This intended FOA will support these goals, as well as the government-wide targets of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge and Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy

The planned funding opportunity will meet BETO’s strategic goals for SAF, other low -carbon products, and decarbonizing communities, as well as FECM’s efforts to use CO2 emissions to convert macroalgae and microalgae into low-carbon agricultural products such as animal feed. The potential funding is expected to be released in March 2024, and could include up to $18.8 million for the following topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Conversion of Seaweeds and Waste Algae to Low Carbon Fuels and Products
  • Topic Area 2: Conversion of Algal Biomass for Low Carbon Agricultural Products

BETO and FECM envision awarding multiple financial assistance awards for R&D activities in the form of cooperative agreements lasting approximately two to three years. More information on applicant eligibility and registration requirements can be found here.