New $40 million funding announcement for military, aviation biofuels from DOE

June 19, 2012 |

DOE releases its latest $40 million funding opportunity, for aviation and military biofuels; lignocellulosic and algal feedstock components.

In Washington, the DOE released details of a long-awaited funding opportunity announcement for advanced biofuels for aviation and military applications, titled “Innovative Pilot and demonstration-scale production of advanced biofuels.”

According to the DOE, “the intent of this FOA is to identify, evaluate, and select innovative pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefineries that can produce hydrocarbon fuels that meet military specifications for JP-5 (jet fuel primarily for the Navy), JP-8 (jet fuel primarily for the Air Force), or F-76 (diesel).”


Concept Paper Submission Deadline: 7/16/2012 5:00 PM ET
Full Application Submission Deadline: 8/13/2012 5:00 PM ET

Integrated biorefineries proposed for this funding opportunity may employ various combinations of feedstocks and conversion technologies to produce a variety of products, but the primary focus must be on producing biofuels.  Novel and highly innovative technologies are strongly encouraged.

Topic Area 1 is focused on lignocellulosic feedstocks or adnaced technology processes for conversion of CO2 (rather than direct conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks), while Topic 2 focuses on algal feedstocks.


The FOA stems from the MOU signed by the Department of Defense (DoD), USDA, and DOE, for the thre agencies to jointly support the design, construction, and operation of integrated biorefineries (IBRs) that produce hydrocarbon-based biofuels from a wide variety of lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks and algae.

In support of this MOU, DOE seeks to use its annual appropriated budget authority to fund innovative IBRs that are: (1) capable of producing hydrocarbon-based advanced biofuels that meet military specifications (2) in geographically diverse locations, with (3) no significant impact on the supply of agricultural commodities for the production of food.

US Energy Security

According to the FOA, “Our dependence on foreign sources of crude oil undermines foreign policy objectives and creates enormous trade imbalances.  It is estimated that the United States transfers approximately $340 billion each year1 (nearly $1 billion per day) to foreign nations to purchase crude oil and refined products.  Advanced, biomass-derived transportation fuels that use a domestic, renewable feedstock can provide a secure alternative that reduces the risk associated with our dependence on foreign sources of petroleum.”

Projected Impact

It is anticipated that technologies developed as a result of this funding opportunity will also help to stabilize the cost of transportation for the American consumer, at or near $3 per gallon of gasoline, while improving the environmental impact of transportation fuel use, reducing dependence upon imported petroleum, and increasing U.S. employment in the production of fuels and chemical products from renewable resources.


For the purpose of this FOA, a pilot-scale integrated biorefinery is defined as a facility with a throughput of no less than one (1) dry tonne of feedstock per day.  A demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery is defined as a facility with a throughput of no less than fifty (50) dry tonnes of feedstock per day. See Section I.C.3 for additional clarification of pilot or demonstration scale as pertains to algae-based technologies.


The proposed integrated biorefinery project must be located within the United States and use a feedstock from a domestic source.  In lieu of constructing a new facility, the applicant may propose the use of an existing pilot-scale or demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery as appropriate to the Topic Area.


Only those applicants willing and able to diligently pursue taking the integrated technology to the commercial scale and have a sound business and technology strategy to deploy and/or license and market the technology commercially should apply.

Acceptable Lignocellulosic Feedstocks

(A) materials, pre-commercial thinnings, or invasive species from National Forest System land and public lands that are byproducts of preventive treatments that are removed to reduce hazardous fuels;  to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation; or to restore ecosystem health; would not otherwise be used for higher-value products.

(B) organic matter that is available on a renewable or recurring basis from non-Federal land or land belonging to an Indian or Indian tribe that is held in trust by the United States including – renewable plant material, including organic material grown for the purposes of being converted to energy; waste material, including crop residue (including cobs, stover, bagasse and other residues); other vegetative waste material (including wood waste and wood residues);  food waste and yard waste.

Food feedstocks not included

No plant based material that is generally intended for use as food may be used as a feedstock under this FOA. Hence, sugars derived from sugarcane or beets and oils derived from soy, canola, sunflower, peanut, and other such food sources normally recovered using conventional food processing methods are not eligible as feedstocks under this FOA. Use of excess oil production of food-grade oil also does not constitute an acceptable feedstock. Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) is also excluded.

Sorghum grain may be an acceptable feedstock if it meets GHG emissions reductinos requirements.

Post-sortation MSW meets the requirements – for the biomass fraction only.

Acceptable Algal Feedstock

Algae may have a broader role under this FOA than other acceptable feedstocks because they can also act as biocatalysts, accumulate lipids or starch-based carbohydrates, or excrete fuels or fuel intermediates. Therefore, the production of algae using a variety of available cultivation strategies (e.g. open ponds, open oceans, and closed bioreactors supporting phototrophic and/or heterotrophic growth) is allowable under Topic Area 2 only.

For the purpose of this FOA, algal biomass can be grown with either CO2 as the main carbon source (photoautotrophic growth), or with other clean carbohydrate sugars or lignocellulosic-derived carbohydrates (heterotrophic growth), or with both types of carbon sources (mixotrophic growth).

Acceptable algal types, for purposes of this FOA, are defined as cyanobacteria, microalgae, and macroalgae.

For applications proposing heterotrophic algae and proposing to initially use a clean carbohydrate sugar feedstocks stream, the applicant must propose a credible path to the use of lignocellulosic sugars.

For applications proposing use of CO2 as source of carbon for fuels and proposing to initially use a fossil based CO2 stream, the applicant must indicate a significant reduction in GHG as compared to petroleum derived fuels, using an acceptable methodology (see GREET as example) and  propose a credible path to the use of renewable CO2.

Aquatic plants (including but not limited to duckweed and eelgrass) are considered lignocellulosic feedstocks, not algae.

Algal throughput

The minimum throughput for pilot-scale algal based integrated biorefineries, is one (1) dry tonne per day of CO2, or other main carbon source, or mixture of CO2 and an additional carbon source. For demonstration-scale, algal based integrated biorefineries, the minimum throughput is fifty (50) dry tonnes of CO2 per day. See Appendix G for a more detailed discussion of the heterotrophic case.

Acceptable Biofuels

he targeted fuels must be suitable for military operational use and, as such, must be either currently approved or likely to be approved in the future as JP-5, JP-8, or F-76 equivalents.  Ethanol from sugarcane, starch, algae, or lignocellulosic feedstocks is specifically excluded from consideration under this FOA

Biodiesel is excluded; however, the hydro-processing of biodiesel to produce a renewable diesel or a renewable jet fuel, for example, would be an acceptable process/technology under the FOA so long as the resulting fuel was otherwise an “acceptable biofuel”.

Estimated funding

Approximately $20,000,000 is expected to be available for new awards in FY2012 with up to an additional $20,000,000 in FY2013, subject to Congressional appropriations for this program.  DOE anticipates obligating all funds to the projects no later than September 30, 2013.

Maximum and Minimum Award Size

Ceiling of $20 million in DOE cost share; floor of $1 million.

Expected Number of Awards

DOE anticipates making approximately 2-4 awards, with up to 2-3 additional awards in FY2013, subject to Congressional appropriations for this program, under this announcement, depending on the Topic Area and size of awards; an average award of $5-$7 million is anticipated.

For more information, contact

[email protected]

Download the complete FOA here


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