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US DOE announces US$73 million for 35 bioenergy R&D projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of 35 projects totaling US$73 million for bioenergy research and development (R&D). Funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), these projects will help reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources.

US dollars

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced October 1, 2019, the selection of 35 projects totaling US$73 million for bioenergy research and development (R&D). Funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), these projects will help reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources.

According to the DOE, the United States has the potential to produce 1 billion dry tons of non-food biomass without disrupting agricultural markets for food and animal feed. This underutilized domestic resource could be used to produce 50 billion (US) gallons (≈ 189.25 billion litres) of biofuels which is around 25 percent of U.S. transportation fuels, 50 billion pounds (≈ 22.6 million tonnes) of high-value chemicals and products, and 75 billion kWh (75 TWh) of electricity which is enough to power around 7 million homes.

The main goal of DOE’s bioenergy R&D is to produce affordable biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure and vehicles across a range of transportation modes, including renewable-gasoline, -diesel, and -jet fuels. These projects will reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources while creating American jobs and strengthening our economy and energy security, said Secretary Rick Perry.

Topic Area 1: Cultivation Intensification Processes for Algae

  • New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos, NM: “OSPREY – Optimizing Selection Pressures and Pest Management to Maximize Algal Biomass Yield” (US$4 999 475)
  • Global Algae Innovations, San Diego, CA: “Innovations in Algae Cultivation” (US$4.5 million)
  • Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO: “APEX – Algal Productivity Enhancements by Rapid Screening and Selection of Improved Biomass and Lipid Producing Phototrophs” (US$3 936 302)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL: “Improving the Productivity and Performance of Large-Scale Integrated Algal Systems for Wastewater Treatment and Biofuel Production” (US$3 011 601)
  • Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ: “Decision-Model Supported Algal Cultivation Process Enhancement” (US$3.5 million)

Topic Area 2: Biomass Component Variability and Feedstock Conversion Interface

  • Montana State University, Bozeman, MT: “Enhanced Feedstock Characterization and Modeling to Facilitate Optimal Preprocessing and Deconstruction of Corn Stover” (US1.3 million)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI: “WIFT: Single-pass, Weather Independent Fractionation Technology for Improved Property Control of Corn Stover Feedstock” (US$1 248 748)
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY: “Sulfur Profiling in Pine Residues and Its Impact on Thermochemical Conversion” (US$1 641 922)
  • University of South Carolina, North Charleston, SC: “Polymer Products from Lignin Through De-aromatization and COOH Functionalization” (US$879 000)
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN: “Modeling Feedstock Performance and Conversion Operations” (US$1 378 384)
  • University of Georgia, Athens, GA: “Machine Learning-Based Modeling Framework to Relate Biomass Tissue Properties With Handling And Conversion Performances” (US$1 451 342)
  • Penn State University, University Park, PA: “Characterization of Mechanical Biomass Particle-Particle and Particle-Wall Interactions” (US$707 323)

Topic Area 3: Efficient Wood Heaters

  • MF Fire Inc., Baltimore, MD: “Swirl Stove: Swirling Combustion for Efficient Wood Burning” (US$998 937)
  • ISB Marketing, South Bend, IL: “Automated Wood Stove UFEC23” (US$1 019 252)
  • MF Fire Inc., Baltimore, MD: “Fire MAPS – Secure Performance Monitoring and User Alerts System” (US$989 644)

Topic Area 4: Systems Research of Advanced Hydrocarbon Biofuel Technologies

  • T2C-Energy, LLC, Pinellas Park, FL: “TRIFTS Catalytic Conversion of Biogas to Drop-in Renewable Diesel Fuel” (US$2 327 759)
  • OxEon Energy LLC, North Salt Lake, UT: “Production of Liquid Hydrocarbons from Biomass Generated Carbon Dioxide” (US$1 995 389)
  • RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC: “Integrated Reactive Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis System for Advanced Hydrocarbon Biofuels” (US$2.4 million)
  • Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, IL: “Integration of IH2 with the Cool H2 Reformer for the Conversion of Cellulosic Biomass to Drop in Fuel” (US$1 276 852)

Topic Area 5: Optimization of Bio-Derived Jet Fuel Blends

  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN: “Higher Energy-content Jet Blending Components Derived from Ethanol” (US$1 774 214)
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, CO: “Cellulosic Derived Advantaged Jet Fuel” (US$1 791 048)
  • Vertimass, Irvine, CA: “Production Of Renewable Cycloalkanes From Ethanol For Blending With Jet Fuel To Enhance Energy Density And Material Compatibility And Reduce Particulate Emissions” (US$1 434 738)

Topic Area 6: Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Wastes

  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO: “Electro-Enhanced Conversion of Wet Waste to Products Beyond Methane” (US$5 067 538)

Topic Area 7: Advanced Bioprocessing and Agile BioFoundry

  • Pow Genetic Solutions, Inc., Berkeley, CA: “Tightly Regulated Separation of Growth and Production in a Contamination-Resistant Two-Chamber System for Robust Continuous Bioprocessing” (US$2 468 821)
  • Invizyne Technologies, Inc., Rolling Hills Estates, CA: “Towards Economical Cell-free Isobutanol Production” (US$2 078 605)
  • University of California, Berkeley, CA: “Accelerating Polyketide Synthase Engineering for High TRY Production of Biofuels and Bioproducts” (US$2.5 million)
  • University of Washington, Seattle, WA: “Developing Multi-Gene CRISPRa/i Programs to Accelerate DBTL Cycles in ABF Hosts Engineered for Chemical Production” (US$1 815 906)

Topic Area 8: Plastics in the Circular Carbon Economy

  • Northwestern University, Evanston, IL: “ResIn: Responsible Innovation for Highly Recyclable Plastics” (US$2 499 999)
  • Spero, Goleta, CA: “Recyclable Thermoset Polymers from Lignin Derived Phenols” (US$2 million)
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA: “Bioconversion of Heterogeneous Polyester Wastes to High-Value Chemical Products” (US$1 500 814)
  • Washington State University, Pullman, WA: “Upcycling of CFRP Waste: Viable Eco-friendly Chemical Recycling and Manufacturing of Novel Repairable and Recyclable Composites” (US$1 609 883)

Topic Area 9: Rethinking Anaerobic Digestion

  • State University of New York, Albany, NY: “Novel and Viable Technologies for Converting Wet Organic Waste Streams to High-Value Products” (US$2 698 542)
  • Washington State University, Pullman, WA: “An Advanced Pretreatment/Anaerobic Digestion (APAD) Technology for Increased Conversion of Sewage Sludge to Bio-Natural Gas in Small-Scale Wastewater Plants of Less Than Five Dry Ton Sewage Sludge/Day” (US$2,428,281)

Topic Area 10: Reducing Water, Energy, and Emissions in Bioenergy

  • University of California, Berkeley, CA: “Multi-Input, Multi-Output Biorefineries to Reduce Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollutant Emissions” (US$1 million)
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO: “Agent-based Modeling for the Multi-objective Optimization of Energy Production Pathways” (US$1 million)

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