DOE invests $64M in 22 advanced biofuels R&D projects: pre-pilot, pilot, demos, clean sugars, wood heaters, RNG in the mix

September 9, 2021 |

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy announced more than $64 million in funding for 22 projects focused on developing technologies and processes that produce low-cost, low-carbon biofuels.

These selected projects will support the newly-announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge: an interagency collaboration between DOE, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reduce the cost, enhance the sustainability, and expand the production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). These agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that lays out a commitment to achieve a minimum 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel, to meet a goal of supplying sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050.

The MOU was presented at a Sustainable Aviation Roundtable hosted by the White House on September 9, 2021. More information on SAF interagency collaboration beyond the MOU can be found at the Biomass Research and Development Board website.

These projects fall into five topic areas for the “Bioenergy Technologies Office Scale-Up and Conversion” funding opportunity:

  1. Scale-Up of Biotechnologies
  2. Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion
  3. Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion
  4. Residential Wood Heaters
  5. Renewable Natural Gas

The topic areas include high-impact biotechnology research, development, and demonstration to bolster the body of scientific and engineering knowledge needed to produce low-carbon biofuels at a lower cost.

“Decarbonizing transportation is an essential part of the path to a net-zero carbon future. While electrification of smaller vehicles is gaining momentum, larger vehicles like planes will still rely on liquid fuels for the near future,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “This investment will accelerate the deployment of bioenergy technologies and mobilize public clean energy investment in the biofuels, chemical, and agricultural industries, which can lead to new good-paying jobs across the bioenergy supply chain and increased investment in rural economies.”

These investments are administered by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), which is focused on developing technologies that convert domestic biomass and other waste resources into low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts. BETO is increasing its emphasis on partnering with industry to demonstrate technologies at a large scale to recognize the urgent need to reduce risks and scale-up SAF production.

Topic Area 1a: Scale-Up – Pre-Pilot for Biofuels and Bioproducts
Alder Energy Charleston, SC Field-to-Fuel Production of Carbon-Negative Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Regenerative Agriculture Biomass $4,000,000
Gas Technology Institute Des Plaines, IL Novel Electric Reformer for Drop-In Fuels from Waste CO2 or Biogas $3,994,252
Gas Technology Institute Des Plaines, IL R-GAS Advanced Gasification Pre-Pilot Demonstration for Biofuels (BioRGAS) $3,999,898
Global Algae Innovations San Diego, CA Direct Air Capture Algae Cultivation $4,000,000
LanzaTech Soperton, GA Low-Cost Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Waste CO2 $3,994,307
MicroBio Engineering Inc. San Luis Obispo, CA Clean Water, Sustainable Aviation Fuel and Renewable Diesel Production from Wastewater $3,999,596
Texas A&M Agrilife Research/Texas A&M University College Station, TX Scale-Up of Biodegradable Plastic Product To Enable the Economic Renewable Aviation Fuels $3,923,620
University of Maryland: College Park College Park, MD Near-Critical Fluids Treatment for Liquefaction and Extraction of Biofuels $3,101,362
Topic Area 1b: Scale-Up – Pilot Scale for Biofuels and Bioproducts
D3Max LLC Grand Forks, ND Production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels from Corn Stover via NREL’s Deacetylation and Mechanical Refining Technology (SAFFiRE) $499,988
Topic Area 1c: Scale-Up – Demonstration for Biofuels and Bioproducts
SkyNRG Americas Inc Bend, OR Project LOTUS: Landfill Off-gas To Ultra-Low Carbon Intensity SAF $1,000,000
T2C-Energy Pinellas Park, FL Demonstration Scale-Up: TRIFTS Biogas to Renewable Fuel $533,619
Topic Area 2: Affordable, Clean Cellulosic Sugars for High Yield Conversion
AVAPCO Thomaston, CA Sugar Is the New Crude $2,800,000
National Renewable Energy Laboratory Golden, CO Production of Low-Cost and Highly Fermentable Sugar from Corn Stover via Chemical-Recovery-Free Deacetylation and Mechanical Refining Process $2,800,000
Topic Area 3a: Separations to Improve Arrested Anaerobic Digestion Process Development
Quasar Energy Group Independence, OH High Solids In Situ Product Recovery; The Next Generation of Arrested Anaerobic Digestion Technology $3,500,000
Topic Area 3b: Separations to Enable Biomass Conversion (Bioprocessing Separations Consortium)
Archer Daniels Midland Decatur, IL Demonstration of Continuous Biobutanol Fermentation Integrated with Membrane Solvent Extraction $3,466,844
Lignolix Wilmington, DE Enabling Lignin Valorization with Liquid-Liquid Chromatography $2,499,196
RAPID Manufacturing Institute New York, NY Physical Property Data and Models in Support of Bioprocessing Separation Technologies for Organic Acids Separation $2,900,000
Topic Area 4: Residential Wood Heaters
Oregon State University Corvallis, OR Development of Forced-Air Combustion Systems with Automated Controls to Reduce Emissions from Cordwood Room Heaters $2,500,000
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL Clean Combustion Technology with Efficient and Autonomous Wood Heater Operation over the Full Cycle $1,642,815
Topic Area 5a: Renewable Natural Gas (R&D)
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA Low-Temperature CO2 Methanation for Biogas-to-Renewable Natural Gas Conversion via Advanced Ni-Based Catalysts $2,300,000
Washington University – St. Louis St. Louis, MO Upgrading Biogas through In Situ Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Biomethane in Anaerobic Digesters $2,300,000
Topic Area 5b: Renewable Natural Gas (Pilot Scale)
Summit Utilities Yarmouth, ME Renewable Power-to-Gas (PtG): A Technical Feasibility and Market Demonstration of Biomethanation as a Means for Biogas Upgrading and Renewable Natural Gas Production $4,977,437

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