Mission Innovation launches sustainable biofuel challenge

By Erin Voegele | November 21, 2016

On Nov. 14, Mission Innovation Partners came together at the UN climate change conference, known as COP22, to report on developments one year from its launch. The global effort aims to double clean energy research and development.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, seven innovation challenges were launched at the event to target the development of clean energy technologies that will accelerate the clean energy transition. One of those challenges focuses on sustainable biofuels.

The Sustainable Biofuels Innovation Challenge aims to develop ways to produce widely affordable, advanced biofuels at scale for use in transportation and industrial applications.

A webpage dedicated to the biofuels innovation challenge notes biofuels have an important contribution to make in meeting short- and medium-term climate targets. “One role is the use of biofuels when zero-emitting electrification cannot be implemented practically and at a reasonable cost,” said Mission Innovation. “For some industrial applications which require high operating temperatures and for some forms of transportation—such as long distance shipping and aviation where the added weight of batteries makes electrification impractical—biofuels are the best near term low-carbon renewable alternative to petroleum fuels.”

“A key challenge for some countries constraining wider adoption of biofuels is the limited availability of inexpensive biomass, and the high costs of advanced conversion technologies that are at various stages of development,” the group continued. “Research and development aimed at accelerating advanced biofuels availability must address key challenges ranging from the sustainable generation and supply of biological feedstocks which takes into account life-cycle impacts and increasing competition for food, feed and material production, to demonstrating the economic feasibility of technologies to produce biofuels that meet current fuel specifications and that can be blended with existing fuels.”

According to Mission Innovation, the challenge will build on the existing work of individual countries and international institutions to identify and prioritize innovation need and collaboration opportunities where research and development can result in significant advances in biofuel technologies. “To achieve this, participating countries will cooperate and collaborate to help governments, private investors, and researchers accelerate technology development so that advanced biofuels reach global market penetration in transportation and industrial applications,” said the group.

Additional information on the challenge is available on the Missions Innovation website